The Mercedes 280SL is a name mostly associated with the 1967-1971 Pagoda convertible. This lovely Mercedes classic car is increasingly becoming more and more popular because the values of these are constantly on the rise. Nowadays, many people are interested in the 280SL, and we are going to tell you all you need to know about it.
The 280SL comes with a 2.8L inline 6-cylinder engine which is not the most reliable Mercedes engine yet, but it does manage to hold its own even after more than 50 years of use. The engine sounds good and some deem it to be the perfect engine for the Pagoda, both for its size and its character.
The design of the 280SL can easily be considered one of the very best Mercedes ever did. The Pagoda got its nickname because the roof of the 280SL resembles Far Eastern temples. The nickname quickly became a thing and now people refer to the 280SL simply as “Pagoda SL”.
Reliability is good which is nothing but praise considering that this car first came out in the 60s. However, we are going to list some of this car’s most common issues. These have continuously been rising in value and it seems like that is not going to stop anytime soon. Finally, practicality is what you’d expect from a late 60s roadster.
Mercedes 280SL – The powertrain
The Mercedes 280SL Pagoda comes with a 2.8L 6-cylinder engine codenamed M130. This engine produces about 170hp and 177lb-ft of torque. This may not seem much by today’s standard, but the 280SL weighs less than 3,000 pounds which means this car has a power to weight ratio of 93.22W/kg.
This is enough to push the 280SL from 0 to 60mph in about 9 seconds. The car comes with a 4-speed manual and the power is being sent permanently to the rear wheels only. The 280SL is an old car so you really can’t consider one if you are hard struck on fuel efficiency. It’s not to say that the 280SL drinks with two straws, but it’s not all that fuel efficiency for a 170hp engine.
Mercedes 280SL – Design and chassis
The 280SL looks stunning both inside and out and rarely anyone is going to argue that. Mercedes did quite a few of these 2-seater roadsters since the brand first came to be, but hardly any of them look as good as the 280SL Pagoda looks. Some say that the 280SL only gets better with age, just like fine wine.
When it comes to the driving experience, the 280SL is an extremely brisk car considering its age. It offers a lively but not so balanced chassis which is a guaranteed rollercoaster. However, the best thing about the 280SL is to just sit back, take the roof off, and enjoy a light breeze on a warm summer sunset evening.
Mercedes 280SL – Reliability and common issues
The 280SL is a relatively reliable car as are all Mercedes cars from that era, but you need to keep in mind that the 280SL is extremely old by now. This means that cars like these deserve and need constant maintenance because they are fairly fragile and prone to experiencing all sorts of issues. Therefore, you need to baby a car like this, and you should, especially because it costs as much as it does.
The most common 280SL issues are related to the engine, the cooling system, the electronics, the fuel system, and worst of all, rust. The good thing is that these have become extremely valuable if in great condition so people take proper care of them now. Buying a heavily corroded example only makes sense if you plan to restore it to its former glory.
Mercedes 280SL – Value and practicality
The value and practicality department is where the 280SL fares the worst as it is now way too expensive for anyone to enjoy it for what it is while also being a compact two-seater that is tight on space no matter how you look at it. The 280SL is a showpiece which means that some of these can fetch a few hundred thousand dollars if in perfect condition.
Even the worst 280SL Pagoda examples are likely to fetch a few tends of thousands of dollars. After a proper and thorough nuts and bolts restoration, the value can increase tenfold. Therefore, these are collectible items as much as they are cars.
Why does Mercedes make 2-seater roadsters?
Most of us associate Mercedes with large luxury 4-door sedans and SUVs made for the world’s richest and most famous people. However, Mercedes actually started making cars without a roof at first and they only later started making dour door luxury sedans.
The Mercedes SL lineage is one of the oldest Mercedes models and is being revived as we speak. Mercedes has recently announced the brand-new 2023 Mercedes SL that will only be available with high-horsepower engines and soft tops, just like it all started.
Is the 280SL Mercedes better than the 300SL Roadster?
According to die-hard Mercedes classic car enthusiasts, the 280SL from the late 60s and the 300SL Roadster from the late 50s are the two most desirable roadster classic cars Mercedes has ever made. Choosing the better one between these two is a difficult task, but it would be impossible not to say that the 300SL Roadster isn’t the best Mercedes Roadster yet.
Sure, the 300SL Gullwing is the more preferred option due to its signature Gullwing doors, but these are simply not as good as having a car such as the 300SL without a roof.
Is the Mercedes 280SL going to continue increasing in value?
It is impossible to say for certain if any car is going to go up in value or go down, but the 280SL is one of those cars that should keep climbing until they reach somewhat of a plateau. These are rare and beautiful, they are great to drive, and they sound great.
Many enthusiasts and collectors want the 280SL and the general interest after the Pagoda is increasing while the number of available cars is shrinking. According to some sources, there are only about 8 registered 280SL Pagoda models in the UK, so saying that the 280SL is not going to continue appreciating is difficult, but never impossible.