Rides from the Readers: 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL
Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, email@example.com. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.
Today’s featured vehicle is a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL. The “pagoda” line of SLs was produced between 1968 and ’71 and earned its name from the tall, removable hardtop. Characteristic of Mercedes-Benz’s W113 cars (which included the earlier 230SL and 250SL), the 2.8-liter 280SL boasted a monocoque chassis and disc brakes on all four corners. Suspension came courtesy of coils and wishbones in front and a swing axle and transverse springs in the rear.
The 280SL, as its name suggests, was powered by a 2.8-liter overhead-cam inline-6, which boasted Bosch fuel injection and, at 180 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque, was a bit beefier than its W113 predecessors. Interior was classic Benz: leather, plush, Blaupunkt radio, and easily readable gauges. Unsure whether you’re looking at a 250SL or a 280? Check to see whether the convertible has side marker lights; only the 280SL has these.
This fine example belongs to Peter Menger, who was walking the field at the Greenwich Concours when a dark red “pagoda” car caught his eye. Menger resolved that one day he’d own one—but it would be the right one. He threw himself into the history of W113 cars, trawling forums for owners who would share critical details and ownership experience. He traveled, searched through dusty garages, and saw W113 examples of every shade, from restored to neglected.
Finally, he found a maroon 1971 280SL with 50K miles. It ticked all the boxes. “Over the years, I have tweaked and proudly restored the car,” Menger writes. He and his family take the Benz for a relaxing coffee run or trip to a local winery, but the highlight of Menger’s experience occurred at his son’s wedding. “Watching my son and his new bride drive off from the church made it all worthwhile.”