The 230SL, along with its later variants, the 250SL and 280SL, comprise the third generation of the Super Leicht (“super light”) models that began with the 300SL in the 1950s. This new model introduced in 1963 at the Geneva Motor Show was an immediate hit, doubling the sales rate for even the best year of the 190SL. The styling of the 230SL set design directions for many modern Grand Touring cars. Even today the lines look crisp.

Although intended purely as a touring car, the 230SL achieved modest success in the Liege-Sofia-Liege rally, proving it had sporting abilities. The engines of the 230 and later 250 and 280 series are in-line sixes; each used single pivot independent rear suspensions and disc brakes at the front. The 230SL, available with a manual or automatic four-speed, was the lightest of the series. Top speed is quoted at 125 mph.

This example is one of just 135 cars produced in 1967, the final year of production for the 230SL. Painted in the factory color scheme of gray-beige with a Caviar MB-tex interior, it is in completely original condition. The car was first purchased in California in November 1967 and driven 9,255 miles before being sold in October 1968. The second owner drove the car 21,813 miles and then it was stored from June 1985 to September 1999.

Today the car is virtually a time capsule and looks and drives as if almost new. Features include the removable hard top, Blaupunkt AM radio (with original instruction packet), air conditioning (again with instructions), original Anthracite M-B rubber mats, accessory Koko mats, full owner’s manual and service booklet with dealer stamps for all services, owner’s ID plate, engine, trunk and jack tags, windshield stickers, black canvas top, full tool kit with fuses, even an original paint touch-up stick. The original canvas soft top is like new, so the hard top may have been used exclusively.

With a mileage of only 31,068, it is incredibly original and there can be few others in this condition. All of the major systems have been recently serviced and new tires and a new battery have been fitted.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1967 Mercedes-Benz 230SL
Years Produced:1963-67
Number Produced:19,831
Original List Price:$6,665
SCM Valuation:$17,000-$24,000
Tune Up Cost:$350
Distributor Caps:$25
Chassis Number Location:Stamped on plate mounted on radiator support
Engine Number Location:Stamped into engine block near head
Club Info:Mercedes-Benz Club of America, 1235 Pierce Street, Lakewood, CO 80214
Alternatives:Porsche 911 Targa, 1963-67 Corvette Sting Ray,Ferrari 308 GTS, Jaguar E-type, BMW 2800/3.0 CS coupe

This 230SL was offered at no reserve and sold for $37,600, including buyer’s premium, at the Christie’s Pebble Beach auction held August 18, 2001. The price paid was strong for this model, but original cars with low miles, in near-perfect condition and with complete records are always capable of bringing big numbers.

The 230 was a ground-breaking design for the Mercedes SL line, offering square-edged surfaces but elegant proportions as a replacement for the derivative and bulbous 190SL. Look carefully at the 230SL and both the details and overall concept of the design will surprise. For example, the 230SL was one of the first sports cars to push its wheels to the outside of the body. Both the 300 and 190SL hid their wheels under eyebrows, and wheels on the Jaguar E-type, Porsche 356, and 1963-67 Corvette Sting Ray were partially concealed by rounded fender lines as well. The SL’s pagoda roof, which allowed easier entry and increased visibility, the finely

detailed cowl air intake and the ultra-crisp front-end design all work in harmony. Less is more on this successful piece of automotive architecture.

Not only did the 230SL deliver advanced style, the six-cylinder engine was a major improvement over the under-powered four used in the 190SL.

Most devotees of this SL series, sold new from 1963 to 1971, prefer the 280 series. Its increase in torque makes a noticeable difference, leaving the 230 and 250 cars to struggle in the market with the perception that they are underpowered.

But this particular car was worth the price paid and more. The color may not be to everyone’s taste, but I find the mellow light gray with hints of beige evocative of the pastel period of the ’50s and perfectly fitting for this car from the ’60s. I rather like the same color on my personal 1975 300D as well.

The pagoda-roof generation SLs have always had a following, and we have seen their values quietly march upward over the last decade. A bonus is that these cars are both reliable and comfortable, traits not necessarily found in vintage sports cars. While a 230SL may not have the hairy-chested performance of a Corvette Sting Ray or the visual panache of a Jaguar E-type, if I were to pick one of the three to drive from San Francisco to New York City, this low-miles, as-new, time-warp 230SL would easily be my choice.—Jim Schrager

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