Mercedes 1966 280SL "Pagoda' Drive Report

Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
2,702
Location
New England, USA
Older gentleman neighbor who I have gotten to know and admire (self-made, the embodiment of the American Dream) has several nice, time warp or gently restored, original cars.

I'm known as one of the local oddball car guys and must appear responsible :p and I get asked to drive his immaculate 280SL as 'the brakes seem not right'. Let's see, six figure time-warp car I am unfamiliar with, possible brake problem...sure! Actually, I did a quick and quiet assessment and pre-flight; hand brake works properly, fluid full and it has a dual circuit system so the chances for complete failure are small.

What an impressive car for its time. I am not generally an MB fan, I have owned a few SUV's, driven many sedans and except for the 190E 2.3 I found them not that engaging (flame suit on and zipped). This is different, I admit to thinking of the SL series as female real estate agent cars, think Hart to Hart, but this one was actually engaging. Brakes were fine...long throw but progressive and not overboosted. The steering surprised me, despite being assisted worm and roller (I believe), it was precise and had better feedback than most modern cars I've driven recently. The car has an original 60's Nardi wheel that feels skinny and just right. Ride was on the soft side for the small size of the car, but never felt isolated or loose at all, was fun in the light twisties. Solid comes to mind.

What impressed me the most was the transmission a 4 speed automatic. These have a fluid coupling that is different from a typical torque converter and I don't know then specifics yet, but aside from a slightly harsh 1-2 thunk (needs tweaking), up and downshifts felt more like a muted modern PDK. This is one 2 seater that should have the auto.

Would I want one? No, of that era I am more of an E-Type, AH 3000, TR3,4,5,6 or 911 guy but I'll never turn down some seat time.

Stock pic of same car, same year, close color pulled from classiccars.com;
9323713-1967-mercedes-benz-280sl-std-c.jpg
 
Last edited:

wings&wheels

Thread starter
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
2,702
Location
New England, USA
If it's from 1966 it is not a 280sl. Likely a 230sl. If a real 280sl it is 1968 or later.

MB experts chime in. I'm not one but this is pretty basic.
It is a 280, and a 'real' one, may be a '67...he said '66 and IIRC it has a '66 YOM plate, but... I'm not a Benz expert and wasn't about to correct them. It is not NAS, so that may explain the discrepancy.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 5, 2021
Messages
32
Older gentleman neighbor who I have gotten to know and admire (self-made, the embodiment of the American Dream) has several nice, time warp or gently restored, original cars.

I'm known as one of the local oddball car guys and must appear responsible :p and I get asked to drive his immaculate 280SL as 'the brakes seem not right'. Let's see, six figure time-warp car I am unfamiliar with, possible brake problem...sure! Actually, I did a quick and quiet assessment and pre-flight; hand brake works properly, fluid full and it has a dual circuit system so the chances for complete failure are small.

What an impressive car for its time. I am not generally an MB fan, I have owned a few SUV's, driven many sedans and except for the 190E 2.3 I found them not that engaging (flame suit on and zipped). This is different, I admit to thinking of the SL series as female real estate agent cars, think Hart to Hart, but this one was actually engaging. Brakes were fine...long throw but progressive and not overboosted. The steering surprised me, despite being assisted worm and roller (I believe), it was precise and had better feedback than most modern cars I've driven recently. The car has an original 60's Nardi wheel that feels skinny and just right. Ride was on the soft side for the small size of the car, but never felt isolated or loose at all, was fun in the light twisties. Solid comes to mind.

What impressed me the most was the transmission a 4 speed automatic. These have a fluid coupling that is different from a typical torque converter and I don't know then specifics yet, but aside from a slightly harsh 1-2 thunk (needs tweaking), up and downshifts felt more like a muted modern PDK. This is one 2 seater that should have the auto.

Would I want one? No, of that era I am more of an E-Type, AH 3000, TR3,4,5,6 or 911 guy but I'll never turn down some seat time.

Stock pic of same car, same year, close color pulled from classiccars.com;
View attachment 109502
[[What impressed me the most was the transmission a 4 speed automatic. These have a fluid coupling that is different from a typical torque converter and I don't know then specifics yet]]

Weren't their automatics akin to the GM Hydramatics of that era, as those didn't have torque converters as I understand it? I may be confusing that with something else. BTW our tastes in cars of that era is similar FWIW.
 
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
2,447
Location
United States
early MB automatics never wore out but shift quality was always complete garbage

eventually they moved on to cheaper better and more conventional design
 
Last edited:
Top