Elegance, prestige, grace. These are just words that represent style; something that we all aspire to have in life. But this 280SL has this encoded in its DNA.

It was 5am. The streets were filled with an exceptionally loud buzz of people making their way home from Saturday night’s festivities. The city streets were empty of cars, all but a few taxis.

I was beginning to grow excited at the prospect of shooting such an exquisite model as I drove through the abandoned streets of Sydney.

The Mercedes was parked right at the end of a multi–level underground car park. It was like finding treasure at the end of a long adventure. Sitting pretty with its light ivory paint and crimson red interior, its owner fired up the fine example of German engineering. A symphony began.

The acoustics of the car park accompanied by the voracious note of the Pagoda was like listening to a well-rehearsed orchestra.

The Mercedes 280SL in question was originally built to be sold in the South African market. Built to the same specifications as European models but in right hand drive, makes this Pagoda an extremely rare find.

Its owner, Jonathon Bristow claims that at the time of purchase in 2016 he needed to throw a deposit on the car without even seeing it just to have a chance of owning it. This particular car was indeed sold in South Africa and was then imported into Perth WA in the late 1980s.

The Pagoda is sporting a 2.8 litre DOHC inline six-cylinder engine that when new produced 170 horsepower at 5,700 rpm. This M130 engine is capable of propelling this Gran Tourer from 0 to 100kph in 10 seconds. It has a Bosch six plunger pump fuel system and electronic fuel injection system that was also used in the Mercedes 300 S class.

The entire car is original according to its current owner. It still retains the original paint!

The 280SL convertible came in two variants. One with a 3rd seat that sits horizontal and has a hard-top cover that clips on (this particular car making it even more of a rarity). The other variety has no rear seat and has a fold out soft top.

The car must hold magical properties because it caused passers-by, both men and women alike, to smile like they had seen pure joy.

I was also smiling, I couldn’t help it. I was lucky enough to be taken on a first-class tour of the city by Johnathan and the Pagoda, truly an unforgettable morning that will keep me grinning for years to come.

Article and photos by Daniel Ferraro

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