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Car Tales: Instant Classic, Mercedes-Benz 280 SL

The Mercedes-Benz 280 SL, like the 1971 model we presently have at Beverly Hills Car Club, is one of the all-time classic cars, an inarguable piece of art.
Why? Because it is so beautiful it has become literally the car of kings.
1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL for sale
Or, at least, The King: none other than Elvis Presley himself, the King of Rock’n’Roll, purchased one – a white convertible 280 SL – in 1969 as a gift for his then-wife Priscilla. Nowadays it is featured at Elvis’s Memphis home of Graceland as a permanent display object.

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So many celebrity names have been turned on by the car with the ‘pagoda roof’: the model Kate Moss; the legendary Beatle John Lennon; the actors Sophia Loren, John Travolta (who owned a Havana Brown 1970 280 SL which was stolen in September 2011) and Peter Ustinov; the master racing driver Stirling Moss; and the late statesman Colin Powell.
‘It’s a beautiful car, with a dark-blue hard top,’ said Powell, a man of taste, of his 280 SL. ‘My wife loves to drive it; it’s really a gift to her…It runs just like it did 40-odd years ago when it was built.’
1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL side view
It is hardly surprising that these stellar names would love this car so much, one of the most beautiful and stylish automobiles ever to go on sale. Although defined by that signature ‘pagoda roof’, that was just the start of its gorgeousness.
In fact, it is hardly surprising that it would appeal to supermodel Kate Moss or to Sophia Loren or Priscilla Presley: there is something indefinably feminine about the graceful design of the car. But it wasn’t simply the look of the car but what was beneath the hood: that powerpack straight six engine sitting potently on top of the strong chassis.
That is why we are delighted to offer to you this 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL featured with 2 tops. Dressed in its original factory color of White Gray (158), this 280 SL is a sight to behold, exuding timeless elegance and sophistication. The exterior is perfectly complemented by a black interior, creating a striking contrast that is sure to turn heads wherever you go.


This example comes with 2 tops, including a black removable Pagoda hardtop and a convertible soft top, allowing you to enjoy open-air cruising or sheltered driving depending on your preference. The car also features a range of classic details such as side marker lights, courtesy light, side moldings, chrome trim, and chrome bumpers with overriders, all of which contribute to its timeless appeal.
Equipped with an automatic transmission, fuel-injected six-cylinder engine, power steering, four-wheel disc brakes, twin exhaust finishers, VDO instrumentation, 2-spoke steering wheel with a horn ring, Michelin tires, 14-inch steel wheels, branded hub caps, jack, and a full-size spare tire.
1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL rear view
Equipped Convenience features include manual-crank windows, front bucket seats with head restraints, Becker Europa radio, fender-mounted antenna, cigar lighter with an ashtray, lockable glove box, driver-side rearview mirror, door pockets, sun visors, and a center console.
1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL interior
Included with this vehicle is an owner’s manual and service booklet, providing valuable insights into the car’s history and maintenance records.
This is an excellent opportunity to acquire a highly collectible Mercedes-Benz 280 SL Pagoda that is mechanically sound.
The ‘SL’ term in 280 SL originates in the German Sport-Leicht – which translates into English as Sport Light. Mercedes-Benz introduced the 280 SL in December 1967 and continued production of it until February 23 1971. The 280 SL sported a 2.8 liter fuel-injected 6-cylinder engine which produced 170 hp and a top speed of 125 mph.
The car was designed by Frenchman Paul Bracq. Bracq’s car designing principles were rarely strayed from: well-balanced proportions; a continuous line stem to stern along the flanks to emphasize length; wheels that fit within their well so as to appear flush with the body; and a low-set waistline. But he never forgot that above all safety was paramount.
Bracq was working with one Bela Barenyi, an engineer who had a huge influence on the automotive industry. During his 33 years as head of pre-development for Mercedes he helped revolutionize & popularize the idea of passive safety: crumple zones, collapsible steering columns and the idea of a passenger cell can all be credited to Barenyi.
1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL engine
In maximizing its space utility, Barényi had proposed a load-bearing roof for carrying luggage. In order to strengthen this plane, longitudinal ridges were applied to the roof’s edges. This was an idea he had patented back in 1956, and so we came to the first example of the Mercedes-Benz pagoda roof.
The Mercedes-Benz 280 SL was an instant classic. The car was marked by its shallow bodysides topped by the tall and airy turret of its roof – which forever recalled the exoticism of the East. With its minimal simplicity, the 280 SL was so complete in its expression.
The 280 SL remained virtually unchanged for its lifespan.
-Alex Manos, Owner
1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL buyer Alex Manos

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