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230 SL Pagoda
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  Mercedes-Benz 230 SL Pagoda

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Country of origin:Germany
Produced from:1963 - 1967
Numbers built:19381
Introduced at:1963 Geneva Motor Show
Source:Company press release
Last updated:Before December 1st, 2004
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Click here to download printer friendly versionThe Geneva Motor Show in March 1963 became the scene of a remarkable debut which was widely covered in the media: With the Type 230 SL Daimler-Benz presented a new sports car which was to replace two models of the former sales programme at once. The new model was faced with a major challenge - not only because its two predecessors, the 190 SL and the 300 SL, had been extremely popular from the start and the 300 SL had even become a legend during its lifetime. The real challenge was the fact that, despite many similarities within the family of models, both models represented two radically different design concepts and it turned out to be rather difficult to make out something like a common denominator.

In a sense, the new model represented something of a compromise: the 230 SL, internally code named W 113, was neither an irredeemably tough roadster, nor a gentle boulevard-sports car - rather, it was a comfortable two-seated GT car with an excellent driving performance and maximum driving safety.

Apart from its wheelbase - the magic measurement of 2400 mm had been taken over unchanged - the new SL had almost nothing in common with its two predecessors. Still, the W 113 was not simply a new construction as its technical concept was mainly based on that of the 220 SE. For example, the new model took its curtailed and reinforced framework from the tailfin sedan including the front and rear axle suspension. the engine, too, had been developed from the 2.2-liter aggregate of the 220 SE. By reboring the engine to 2.3 liter, enhancing compression and use of a six-piston injection pump, power was increased to 150 hp.

Apart from the standard 4-speed gearbox, for the first time an SL model had become available with an optional 4-speed automatic transmission. A third version came in May 1966 with a 5-speed gearbox, produced by the Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen (ZF).

The 230 SL was the first sports car with a safety body with stiff passenger cell and deformation zones at the front and rear; this had become possible by applying the construction principles of Béla Barényi, which had been used for the first time in the "fintail" sedans. In contrast to these invisible construction elements, the body was characterised by one conspicuous design element: The 230 SL came with a removable hood, which had a concave shape, i.e. its surface curves inwards in the middle. This rather avantgardistic design was unusual for its time and met by no means only with approval. However, it was not an end in itself, but was a classical illustration for the designer maxim that 'form follows function'. According to the work of Béla Barényi, the pagoda shape lends a high degree of stiffness to the roof even if it uses a light construction. Moreover, access had become easier through the big side windows and vision had improved.

As with its predecessor, the 230 SL came in three versions: as a roadster with collapsible hood, as coupe with removable hood and as coupe with removable hood and a roadsterhood. All three versions could optionally be fitted with a transverse seat in the rear.

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  Article Image gallery (8) Specifications