The second-generation W113 1963 Mercedes-Benz SL has always been somewhat overshadowed by its more collectable W198 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “gullwing” predecessor. Most of that comes down to rarity, but — and I might catch some heat for saying this — I think the W113 is the prettier car. Take this 280 SL ‘Pagoda’ owned by Daniel Monti of Los Angeles. He might be a bit biased, but I think Monti would agree with me. And as an architect, he’s someone who knows a few things about design. Our friends at Petrolicious recently spoke with Monti about his SL and his love of timeless design in cars and architecture.
The 1969 280 SL ‘Pagoda’ earned its nickname because of its unique, concave roof that resembles a Japanese pagoda when view from straight on. But its shape was dictated by functional requirements. “One of the things I read in the design brief,” Monti told Petrolicious, “they wanted to make sure that the journalists who’d came out to a race day, parked their 280SL at the side of the track, climb on top of the roof, get their camera out, and take pictures of the race that day.” Evidently, journalists made a lot more money in the late ’60s.
The 280 SL was the last of three W113s and came after the 230 SL and 250 SL. It was built during a time when Mercedes would determine a car’s price point only after designing and building it — the opposite of what every other car manufacturer does to this day (including Mercedes). It resulted in some stoutly engineered automobiles. Monti’s SL has been in his family for 30 years, and he says it still fires up and drives reliably whenever he takes it out.