With production of both the 300SL and 190SL cars coming to an end in 1963, Mercedes-Benz needed a new car to carry the SL (Sehr Leicht, very light) torch. And while the previous cars immortalized the SL moniker, the 230SL was more a spiritual successor to those cars than a direct descendent.
Mercedes debuted the 230SL (designated W113 internally) at the Geneva Auto Show in March 1963, to great acclaim. Exterior styling was a departure for Mercedes, which had until that point relied on rounded, even bulbous curves to characterize its automobiles. But the 230SL bordered on square, pulled off through the use of clean, elegant lines, intelligent placement of the wheels in proportion to the rest of the design, and a tall, “pagoda” removable hard top that allowed for ease of ingress and egress.
The 230 utilized a monocoque chassis borrowed from the 220 series sedan, with front suspension courtesy of coils and wishbones, while the rear incorporated a single-pivot swing axle and transverse springs set up to compensate for camber. Girling disc brakes stopped the front wheels, and power-assisted drums worked the rear. Also borrowed from the 220 series was its overhead-cam inline-6, now bored out to 2.3 liters. Bosch fuel injection was incorporated as well, and horsepower on the new sport tourer was rated at 150, a significant boost over the underpowered 190SL. A 4-speed manual transmission was standard, though a new 4-speed automatic transmission was optional, a first for Mercedes sports tourers of this nature.
The 230SL was an unqualified success, with sales topping even the best sales year for the 190SL. This was in some measure due to the car’s genuine ability to perform. Top speed was rated at about 200 km/h, and handling was described as neutral, with light, balanced steering, even at the limit. And while they were not originally intended as competition cars, the sturdy, reliable 230 made a suitable and quite successful rally machine, including a famous win in the grueling Spa-Sofia-Liege Rally.
Ultimately, these “pagoda” SL’s would become regarded as one of the finest cars to come from the Stuttgart firm, with timeless, graceful styling, spirited performance and handling, and build quality and reliability second to none.
This 230 SL was delivered September 15th 1966 to its first owner in the very beautiful Horizon blue over a black leather interior and having a dark blue soft top. Some years ago this beauty underwent a professional nuts-and-bolts restoration to original specifications and colours. Since then the car has driven 500 km and thus the car is still in a perfect and clean condition.
All numbers on the car are matching! All original spotwelds are present on the car!
The combination of comfort, reliability and ease of use makes these pagode’s the ideal and reliable classic for rally’s. This very nice example is ready to be enjoyed!