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1966 Mercedes 230SL Roadster
1964 Mercedes 230sl
1966 Mercedes 230sl
1965 Mercedes 230sl Roadster
1966 Mercedes 230SL Roadster

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Mercedes 230 SL 

The Mercedes-Benz W113 was marketed to the public as the Mercedes 230 SL. 

Designed as a two-seat roadster/coupe and introduced at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show, the 230 SL was produced from 1963 through 1971. Of the total 48,912 230 SL models produced, 19,440 were sold within the United States. 

230 SL vehicles were assembled with the help of Mercedes technical director Fritz Nallinger, chief engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut, as well as head of styling Friedrich Geiger. Lead designers included Paul Bracq and Béla Barényi, who created the patented, slightly concave top that led to the Pagoda nickname. 

All 230 SL models came stocked with an inline-six-cylinder engine and multi-port fuel injection. 

To reduce weight, the following elements of the 230 SL were made of aluminum:

  • Bonnet
  • Boot lid
  • Door skins
  • Tonneau cover

Part of what made the 230 SL an exceptional vehicle was the superb handling the car contained during its time of production. Enhanced handling was achieved as a result of a short and full chassis, excellent suspension, reliable brakes, and radial tires. 

Homage was paid to the 300 SL with the 230 SL’s fishbowl headlights, a simple chrome grille, and a sizable three-pointed star located in the nose panel. Typical 230 SL cars were coupes/roadsters with a soft-top and removable hardtop option. 250 SL’s were introduced with a fold-down rear bench seat instead of a soft-top. 

230 SL History 

In 1955, Mercedes began creating a car that was more attainable than the 300 SL supercar, while featuring higher performance than the 190 SL. What led to the 230 SL was improvements upon 220 SL models. 

Fritz Nallinger proposed a new 220 SL design based on the W111 with shortened chassis and W112 technology. The 230 SL platform was then created with an improved fuel-injected 2.3-liter M127 inline-six engine with the iconic pagoda hardtop. 

While showing the 230 SL at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show, Nallinger announced that Mercedes had created a fast sports car with high performance and traveling comfort. 

Enhanced Safety Design 

230 SL vehicles were the first sports car with a safety body. Rigid passenger cell, designated crumple zones, impact-absorbing front, and rear sections were all a part of the 230 SL design. All hard corners and edges were removed with rounded interior design. 

One neat fact about the 230 SL was the vehicle served as the first Mercedes with radial tires. 

230 SL: The Start of Something New 

Production of 230 SL models had a solid 7-year run between 1963-1967. 

4-speed manual or automatic transmission was offered to 230 SL purchasers. US customers seemed to be more in line with the 4-speed automatic transmission. 

230 SL Conclusion 

What made the 230 SL exciting was that it was both stylish and high-performing. Drivers could push the limits of the road while feeling safe behind the wheel of a car that had enhanced safety features. The pagoda hardtop is only part of what makes the 230 SL an iconic vehicle from Mercedes. 

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