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This week’s Prime Find can hardly be classified as a budget classic. Let’s be frank: It’ll be well out of financial reach for a large portion of our readers – myself too for that matter. But while there’s nothing budget about it, it still appears to be a real bargain.

As we are all very well aware, classic car prices have been on a rather intense climb over the past eight to ten years. However, things seem to be cooling somewhat. In short, that was the conclusion we came to when ViaRETRO attempted an analyses of the market back in November leading to this report: The Current Temperature of the Classic Car Market? Either this Pagoda is the perfect embodiment of that report, or there’s something rotten about the advert or the car in itself…

The ever elegant, timeless and widely acclaimed Mercedes-Benz W113 – popularly known as the Pagoda thanks to its distinct concave roof design – has been one of the models which increased significantly in value. In fact, recent years has seen the best of the best advertised north of £ 100 grand, while values between £ 50 to 80 thousand seems to have been the norm for good, solid and well-presented SL’s – largely of course depending on engine size and further specs. The most sought after has always – not surprisingly – been the top-of-the-range 280SL with the 2.8-litre M130 straight-6 engine producing 170hp with the help of a mechanical Bosch multi-port fuel injection, which was added to the W113 model range in 1967 and finally bowed out in 1971 when the W107 took over. Probably the easiest way to further improve the specifications – at least according to market forces – is to ensure that you get your hands on a 280SL with one of the relatively rare manual transmissions. And that is exactly what we have here – a 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SL with a 4-speed manual gearbox. So why is it only advertised at a (relatively) modest £ 50,000?

To be perfectly honest, reading through the advert, it’s genuinely a mystery to me. The SL seems to have a lot of things going for it. Besides having both the “right” engine and gearbox, it’s also said to be a matching numbers car in its factory-correct original colours. It’s a US-market car, which shouldn’t be surprising as approximately half of the barely 50,000 Mercedes-Benz W113’s produced made their way to US shores. This of course, makes it a LHD car for sale on a RHD market, but with the Pagoda being equally popular in all of mainland Europe, that shouldn’t really affect the asking price much. It’s been treated to a set of European headlights and still retains its factory hardtop and original radio, just as it comes with its toolkit, manuals and a small history file. All good stuff…

The dealer is apparently selling on behalf of a client, and continues to describe in reasonable detail what’s been done to the SL over recent years. Body, panel gaps, paint and chrome are all said to be good, while the interior is described as immaculate. It’s also seen mechanical work to both the Bosch fuel injection, suspension and brakes, has been serviced recently, and is thus claimed to be a joy to drive. What’s not to like?

Okay, so the dealer admits to a few small flaws. There’s apparently three small cracks in the paintwork – two near the front grill and one on the bootlid. Credit to the dealer for including this in his write-up – many don’t. But it’s of course something which requires a proper inspection. If one were a pessimist, one could now fear thick layers of filler under the shiny paint causing those cracks to appear. It’s certainly one option, but things might not be that bad at all. If they are just minor cracks, and there’s no evidence of excessive filler underneath, then I would personally welcome small imperfections like this, as it only serves to make this SL so much more useable. After all, no one actually drives a concours Pagoda. The seller also mentions two small cracks in the binnacle of the dashboard. Again, this wouldn’t worry me personally, and surely this can’t be the only reason that this highly desirable 280SL is advertised at £ 50,000?
Here are some pictures from the advert:

More importantly, if this Pagoda tickles your fancy as much as it does mine, and you’ve got a decent chunk of cash burning a hole in your pocket, you’re going to need this link to the advert and the contact details for the Scottish dealer: 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SL

It both sounds and looks too good to be true. Often that means it is too good to be true. But maybe – just maybe – this is the new market value for a not-too-perfect-but-sound-and-clean Pagoda with a 2.8-litre and a manual ‘box. Needless to say, it will need a thorough pre-purchase inspection before any money passes hands. Should one of our readers venture out to see this one in the flesh, I sincerely hope you’ll report back with your findings. I’m deeply intrigued…

 

With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to primefindoftheweek@viaretro.co.uk

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