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2 Responses to German Silver: ’65 Mercedes-Benz 230SL 4-speed

  1. Brian P says:

    Obviously the engine in a 230SL and a 250SL is slightly smaller than that of a 280SL but I think it is a myth that the 230SL is under powered. This is for several reasons. First, both the 230 and the 250 versions of the Pagoda were rated at 170hp SAE while the 280 was only rated 10hp more at 180hp SAE. That 180hp was probably for the first full model year which was 1968. The U.S. specification 280SL experienced “emissions creep” with each successive year ending in ’71. So maybe the later versions did not even make the reported 180hp. Second, I think most street drivers would not notice a “seat of the pants” difference of just 10 horsepower (certainly not while obeying traffic laws). Third, most 280SLs are heavier than their 230 and 250 counterparts. This is because many 230 and 250 models lack the weight adding power steering and A/C components that most 280s have. Also, most 280s have bumper over riders adding a bit more weight and there are likely a few more weight adding items which escape me.

    Many Pagoda enthusiasts have what I sometimes refer to as “280 on the brain”. In America we tend to get caught up thinking that bigger and newer is better. The 230 and 250 versions are not valued as high as the 280s are but this is a market aberration. I see no logical reason that the 230/250 should sell for a significant discount to a 280, condition being the same. They do however, at least in the States. True it is more difficult to find a good 230/250. Again there are several reasons for this. The obvious one is that they have simply had to suffer a greater number of years at risk in the environment. The second is sort of a self fulfilling prophecy. Since they have been perceived as being less valuable, owners have been less willing to lavish dollars upon them in maintenance and restoration.

    I have been predicting that eventually the price gap between the 230/250 and the 280 models will shrink. There are those who prefer the 230 and early 250 models due to their purity of form and higher level of chrome. History wise the 230 was actually used by the factory as a rally car. I think Stirling Moss’s sister Pat even rallied one. One would think that this would even enhance the perceived value of a 230.

    On to this car: The climate in much of Europe is not friendly to vintage cars so one must be especially vigilant to perform due diligence in determining the condition of a car that was there for much of its life like this car. The majority of Pagodas which stayed in the home market suffered extensive rust. That is why buyers come from all over the world to the Southwestern U.S in their quest for rust-free old cars. Our warm and especially dry climate is much more favorable for steel structures.

    The front hood gap is larger than factory on this car but at least in the photo it seems fairly even left to right. Also, the driver’s door gap looks off in the photos. A prospective buyer will want to question the seller about what sort of body work was performed.

    About the stated odometer reading, I could go on and on but suffice to say that most nearly 5 decades old cars saw their 5 digit odometers reach their mechanical limit and turned over in their first decade of life. There are legitimate “actual miles” old cars out there but they are especially rare. If you are paying a premium for “low miles” you might want to find a service file intact that documents the odometer reading. Also, one would expect extreme low miles to go hand in hand with extreme originality (including upholstery) .

    Now with all that said, the seller is asking a very moderate sum for this example. My advice would be to talk with the seller, ask some questions and if you like the answers that you get in return, get out and see it in person or hire a knowledgeable inspector to do the same.

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