First introduced to the world at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show, the Mercedes-Benz W113 — better known as the 230 SL — certainly had big shoes to fill. It was slated to be the replacement for both the iconic 300 SL and the smaller 190SL. As it turned out, the 230SL wasn’t so much a replacement as it was a significant change in direction for the Super Light line, bringing the American market an emphasis on luxury while retaining an essential sportiness — something lead engineer Fritz Nallinger called “motoring happiness.”
- 2.3-liter overhead,
- cam inline,
- fuel-injected 6-cylinder engine,
- 150 HP,
- 4-speed manual gearbox,
- double-wishbone front suspension,
- transverse spring rear axle,
- 94.5” wheelbase
The fresh new 230SL was a sales success, immediately doubling the best results of the previous 190SL. It proved to be a landmark design with undeniable collector appeal.
Perhaps the most distinctive new feature was the removable hardtop designed by Paul Bracq, which had a slightly concave center section and raised edges — a clever touch that effectively improved cabin visibility and created much easier access. It also gave the car a distinct look, earning the 230SL its familiar nickname, the “Pagoda.”
The 230 continued the Mercedes-Benz tradition of impeccable build quality. Neither extravagant nor overly aggressive, the clean, new styling was elegantly proportioned. Collectors enjoy the attention these cars get. The easy availability of parts and a well-established and enthusiastic community of fellow Mercedes-Benz owners open up a world of collector car opportunities to the new owner.
Power is provided by the robust and reliable fuel-injected straight-six engine installed at the factory, mated to a supple and fully-synchro 4-speed manual transmission. The W113 was a very early adapter of safety considerations like planned deformation zones to protect the passengers and the lack of any sharp edges that began in the design stages. The engine in this example is silky smooth with good power delivery — the total package is tight and handles well. Top speed is listed as 125 MPH, thanks to a high compression head and new 6-nozzle Bosch fuel injection, and it’s equipped with front disc brakes and power-assisted rear drums.
This highly presentable 230 SL is, apart from a repaint in period correct Grey Beige, largely original and wearing its miles gracefully. It was originally sold at Worldwide Motors in Indianapolis, Indiana — included in the sale are many original documents, including instructions for the original Becker radio, which is still in the car. The shipping invoice, warranty papers and service records are included, in addition to both the hard and soft tops. The original turquoise leather upholstery and carpets are in good condition and bespeak the careful use this car has received.