My 1965 Mercedes 230SL

230SL in Nice Setting

My car was built in February 1965 and delivered to its first owner on March 11 in Reutlingen, Germany.  It is a European model, dark green, with cognac leather and a black soft top.  It was first imported to the US in 1985, and remained in Phoenix until I bought it in August 2001.  From the records I have, I believe I am the fourth owner, and that the odometer reading of 96,000 km (59,650 miles) is the correct mileage.

When I bought it, the car was solid, original, and had apparently not been in any accidents, but it had been neglected for several years.  The engine was in pieces, partly in the trunk.  I restored it completely in 2002 - 2003: rebuilt the engine, put in new upholstery and carpets, repainted it, did necessary chrome plating, and renewed all necessary smaller items (this is the expensive part of a restoration).

The car has been entered in a number of Concours d'Elegance, winning a third place in Newport Beach (2004) and Beverly Hills (2006), and second place awards in Newport Beach (2005), Beverly Hills (2005), and Palos Verdes (2005).

The same body style was used later also for the 250SL and the 280SL.  Some general facts about all three models, showing the similarities and differences, are given below.

More Photos

230SL from above
From Above
230SL Winning Award
2nd place, Palos Verdes Concours 2005

Mercedes 230SL, 250 SL, 280 SL Facts

The Mercedes 230SL was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 1963 as the replacement for the 190SL.  The new innovative design was the work of Paul Bracq, a Frenchman, who worked for Friedrich Gegner.  (Later, Bracq also designed the BMW 630 coupe).

The car was given the nickname Pagoda by the staff at the Sindelfingen plant, because of the shape of the removable hardtop -- higher at the sides than in the middle.  The same body style was also used for the 250SL and the 280SL, which had larger engines but were heavier, so performance stayed much the same.  All three models had an in-line 6 cylinder overhead-valve engine with Bosch mechanical fuel injection.  Suspension was fully independent, with coil springs all around, double wishbones in front and swing axles with a single low pivot in the rear.

The total number of Pagodas produced was 48,462.  Of these, 34,215 were exported, 19,440 of them to the US.  Here are some other facts about the cars:

Years built
Number produced
Engine displacement
Horsepower (DIN)
Main bearings
Fuel tank capacity
Weight (empty)


1963 67
2306 cc
150 @ 5500
145 ft/lb @ 4200
65 L (17.2 Gal)
1295 kg (2855 lbs)


1966 68
2496 cc
150 @ 5500
159 ft/lb @ 4200
82 L (21.7 Gal)
1360 kg (2998 lbs)


1967 - 71
2778 cc
170 @ 5750
177 ft/lb @ 4500
82 L (21.7 Gal)
1360 kg (2998 lbs)


Hardtop weight
Overall length
Height with hardtop
Original tire size
Turning circle diameter
Drag coefficient (Cw)
Approximate top speed

49kg (108 lbs)
4282mm (14 ft in)
2400mm (94.5 in)
1305 mm (51.4 in)
185 HR 14
10.35 m (34.0 feet)
0.610 (open).
200 km/h (124 mph)