Gooding and Company will be holding their annual Amelia Island sale on Friday, March 9, 2018 at 11:00am. Cars are available for preview the day before and for a few hours the morning of the sale itself. This 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL with a manual transmission will be there. Full event details are below the car description.
Lot 005 – 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL
Estimate: $90,000 – $110,000
- Dark Red (542 G) w/ Cognac MB tex
- Manual transmission
- Both tops
- Becker Mexico Radio/Cassette
- Copy of Factory Data Card
- 55,840 miles appear on odometer
The auction catalog description for this car isn’t very detailed, past owners aren’t mentioned. It does mention receipts showing regular maintenance as well as paint and body work performed in 2008. The odometer reading is listed as 55,840, but no claims are made whether they are original or if it’s gone around. While a copy of the factory data card is with the car, no claim of ‘matching numbers’ is made. Matching numbers in the Pagoda SL world means that the engine number stamped on the block matches the data card. Usually, if the numbers match, an auction company will go out of their way to mention that fact, as it’s a strong selling point. Upon close inspection of the engine bay photos the car’s body tag appears to be missing. Now, maybe there will be a body tag on there the day of the sale, maybe it’s just the angle of the photo, but I don’t’ think so.
From the auction catalog photos, this car appears to be in decent cosmetic condition. The paint is shiny and the interior looks new, but to determine whether or not you want to pay $60,000 or $100,000 you have to pay attention to the details. The engine bay appears to be of driver quality, the original firewall pad is there, showing its age, but at least it’s the original, no harm done. I can see spot welds on the passenger’s side inner fender, that sheet metal appears original. Potential bidders will want to have a close look at the driver’s side as well. Are the storied ‘fender notches’ present, I doubt it, as they aren’t mentioned in the description. The fact that there is no body tag affixed to the driver’s side inner fender is a problem. Where is it? Why is it missing? Removed during bodywork ten years ago? Maybe, further investigation is needed there.
“1” More Detail
There is a footnote in the auction catalog, below the bullet point features / specs that reads “*Please note that this vehicle is titled 1304410020675,” this could complicate things for the buyer. The VIN printed on the title is missing its first digit, a “1”. The Pagoda SL chassis is known internally at Mercedes-Benz as the W113, so ALL Pagoda SL VIN numbers, from 230 SL – 280 SL begin with “113”. Somewhere along the line a DMV employee failed to type in both “1” when entering the VIN, so now, technically, the VIN on the car doesn’t match the VIN on the title. One digit missing, a problem? I know it sounds ridiculous, but it is a problem. I had THE SAME problem with a 1969 280 SL that an overseas buyer purchased. We were only made aware of the problem when the European buyer got a call from his shipping company telling him that U.S. customs had impounded the car at the Port of Baltimore and it could not leave the country until a new title was issued with the correct VIN. So I went back to my client, the long-time owner of the car, who I sold it for, and explained the problem. We were able to apply for a duplicate title, the DMV folks were very understanding (how often does THAT happen?!). They accepted the change and didn’t require a physical inspection of the car (thank God!), but the car did accrue storage charges at the port for almost a month while it was all sorted out. So, long story short… a VIN issue like this, as ridiculous as it sounds, can cause headaches for overseas buyers or for buyers who live in states where out of state cars require physical inspections in order to be registered. I’ll say it again… the devil is in the details. You have to ask questions of auction companies, you have to take into account everything that is included in an auction description and everything that is not.
All Pagoda SLs Are Worth Owning
I believe that all Pagoda SLs are worth owning, but not all of them are worth close to six figures. A casual Mercedes enthusiast who reads the collector car magazines thinks this is the only year / transmission combination to own. Nonsense. Condition and provenance trump both of those things and manual transmissions, across all model years, aren’t as rare as every collector car dealer classified ad would have you believe. Even with its short comings, this car presents nicely and would probably make a good driver, but I don’t think it will reach the low auction estimate, even if it is a ’71 stick shift car. My sale prediction: $72,000.
Gooding and Company – Amelia Island Auction
March 9, 2018
Racquet Park, Omni Amelia Island Plantation
6800 First Coast Hwy
Amelia Island, FL 32034
(1 mile south of Amelia Island Parkway)
Thursday, March 8 – 9:00am – 6:00pm
Friday, March 9 – 9:00am – 4:00pm
Friday, March 9 – 11:00am
Admittance – $30, admits one to all events
Catalogue – $75, admits two to all events
Cash or credit card only.
Children under 12 free.
$200 includes a catalogue, admission for two to the viewing and auction with two reserved seats, subject to availability.
On-Site Contact Information:
Shuttles will run round-trip from the Gooding & Company auction site to the Ritz-Carlton resort entrance on Amelia Island Parkway, 8:30am to 6:30pm on Thursday, March 8th and Friday, March 9th.
All photos courtesy of Gooding and Company.