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Project 280SLeeper Part 1: A Mercedes 280SL Gets Prepped For Resurrection

280SLeeper_thumbnailFollow along as we chronicle the revival of a 1970 Mercedes 280SL. Like a vast, open road that disappears into the horizon it is difficult to image what trials and tribulations await the Benz. As we start this series, the car has been deconstructed, bits and pieces shipped out, and the shell has just returned from the paint shop.

The Mercedes-Benz W113 is a two-seat roadster/coupé that was introduced at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show, and produced from 1963 through 1971. Initially offered as the 230SL in 1963, the car replaced both the legendary 300SL and the 190SL. The 280SL model was introduced in December 1967 and was produced until 1971. Known as the Pagoda, this generation of the SL is one of the classic Mercedes shapes to come out of the 20th century. Its crisp, clean modern lines were a departure from the art deco inspired roadsters that came before.

The car was acquired from a couple who bought it Southern California in 1988 and eventually moved to Florida. The car, chassis #16714, was delivered in 1970. The overall condition was good with a few minor issues that are consistent with a 44-year-old car. The carpets were worn and parts of the seat covers had been replaced. There was at least one repaint on the car and the clear rear plastic window of the soft top hard turned a dark amber color. The chassis was very sound with rust-free floors and fenders. The suspension was still tight with some play in the steering system. Overall she was a good candidate for a restoration.

After dis-assembly,  the rest of the shell was found to be in really good condition. The doors, trunk lid, and hood are made from lightweight aluminum and were chemically striped before being carefully sanded to bare metal. During the research phase of the project a few shops performing V8 upgrades using Mercedes Benz engines were found. One such modification uses the 3.5-liter V8 from the 300SEL sedan. All of the research showed very little fabrication is needed to make this engine swap work so the decision to find a donor car and drop some V8 power on the project weighed heavy.

Keep an eye out here at for more posts showing the progress on this serious sleeper.


The engine before disassembly.


The car as it appeared in the sales ad.


Hard water stains on the chrome mirror.


The interior during disassembly.


Radiator pulled before removing the engine.


Rear suspension with 132,000 miles of road grime.


The rear suspension has never been apart.


Idler arm and tie rods with the engine removed.


The engine bay less the engine.


The engine subframe and motor mount.


The wiring harness on the floor.


Test fitting the Mercedes 3.5-liter V8.


The body shell back from media blasting.


The firewall after media blasting.

Have fun in your garage!




  1. dear sir
    i have a pagoda 250sl . i want to change the engine to 300 sel from the w126 and the automatic gear shift . dose it fits ?. what need to be chaged ? also want to change the breaks to the disc in rear
    kind regards
    dr m shaker

  2. Hank Baier says:

    I want to install a v-8 in my pagoda…….MBZ. or a Chev with auto
    trans. Will the motor mounts on a 450 or 500 fit in the same
    spots as the original 6 ? Chevy will require a ….new motor mount location
    and a fromt sump oil pan ….lot oh wo.

    • Tilly Hawtrey says:

      Hi Hank did you proceed and put a chevvy with auto in your pagoda? I just bought one with the combination and wondered if it was actually your old car
      Kind Regards

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