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Lot 34: Mercedes-Benz 280 SL

Car, H&H Sales Limited (13 March 2010)

"The Mercedes-Benz 280SL departs from other sports cars in two respects. First, it does not resemble a rocket ship or a fugitive from a racetrack. It is sporty but deliberately unflashy. It will never embarrass you, whether keeping fast company in a rally or arriving at the White House. Second, it is one thoroughbred sporting machine that isn't stark or cramped. That doesn't make you pay for soul-stirring performance with ringing ears or stiff joints. It is a civilized sports car. For adults." (Road & Track magazine 1969) Mercedes have been producing an SL (Sport Leicht) model or range of models since 1954 when the landmark 300SL was unveiled. The similarly styled, but mechanically unrelated, 190 followed in 1955, completing the first generation of cars. Their successor was the W113 series. The last of the line, the 280SL was launched in 1968. Blessed with the same effortlessly elegant Paul Bracq styling as its earlier siblings, it was powered by a new seven bearing crankshaft 2781cc straight-six engine that developed some 170bhp and 180lb ft of torque. The SL was equipped with all round independent suspension - double wishbones and coil springs at the front and a coil-sprung swing axle at the rear. Braking was by power assisted discs all round and steering was by recirculating ball. The car's 'square' track (some eight inches wider than the contemporary Jaguar E-type) gave notably sure-footed handling. Able to blur the divide between city streets and open roads with ease, the majority of 280SLs were specified with four-speed automatic gearboxes and power assisted steering. The SL was available in Californian Coupe, Convertible or Coupe Convertible guises, the last of which came with both a soft-top and the famous 'Pagoda' hardtop roof (so called because of its gently scalloped centre section). Some 23,885 280SLs were reputedly made by the time production ceased in 1971, virtually half of which were exported to the USA. The popular W113 Series of cars was replaced by the all new and substantially heavier R107 350SL/450SL range. This left-hand drive 280SL was built in 1971 and delivered new to a Mr Barth of Oklahoma, USA. It was finished in red and equipped with four-speed automatic transmission. For some reason, the car was placed in storage very early in its life and spent some 25 years under cover in Oklahoma before being moved to California where it lay for a further 10 years. At this point it was purchased by Javier Sacio, the proprietor of Sacio Enterprises, renowned restorers based in San Diego - Sacio had planned to sell the car but, due to its condition and low mileage decided to restore it for his wife. Early in the restoration it was apparently clear that the car had never been in an accident and had an incredible body complete with all its original factory markings. The car was stripped to bare metal and refinished in DB180 silver, rather than its original colour. The seats received new inserts and the whole interior was retrimmed in black leather. The original wood trim was in good shape and needed little work to look as new once more. The aluminium and chrome of the scuff plates was replaced. The soft and hard tops were both restored. In deference to the car's age, the engine was pulled apart and resealed with new gaskets etc, while its fuel pump was reconditioned and recalibrated. The transmission was stripped to ensure it ran properly. The lights were all replaced with new OEM parts. The suspension was removed and cleaned. It is claimed that no expense was spared over the work and, once complete, the job was inspected by some Mercedes 280SL experts and a few minor corrections made in the search for perfection. The vendor describes the current condition of 'DDG 961J' as follows: coachwork, "concours condition, rust free"; paintwork, "concours condition"; engine, "excellent"; transmission, 'overhauled - excellent'. Clearly, he sees little room for improvement. The Mercedes is MOT'd into September and taxed until the end of August. This fine looking example of the most sought after version of the Pagoda series represents a rare opportunity for the serious collector.

Lot Details
Auction Car
H&H Sales Limited, Stoneleigh Park
TypeCar
Lot Number34
Estimate£50000-£60000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1971
Condition rating
Registration numberDDG961J
Mileage-
Chassis number11304412021202
Engine number130983-12-014233
Engine capacity (cc)2778
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2