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One of the most famous automobile roof designs ever debuted at the Geneva Motor show in 1963 on the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL, also called the “W113. The lid, with its concave shape, earned the car the name “Pagoda,” a term alluding tocurved roofs of Far Eastern temples.” But the shape didn’t exist for just aesthetic reasons, it also offered practical benefits including visibility and ease of ingress.

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This all comes form the legendary designer Paul Bracq, who says in the video below from auto supplier Mahle—and my German is getting a rusty so forgive me here—something to the effect of: “We needed a car with good visibility and ingress capability...at the time, we needed 10 centimeter of depth to give a roof stability. And if you flip the roof, then I have 10 centimeters better visibility and it’s easier to get into...and so the Pagoda was born.”

Jalopnik runs these “blip” posts every morning, and they usually just consist of a single picture and a small, single-paragraph description beneath it. But I couldn’t not show you that video. It’s a design legend talking about a masterpiece!

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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DISCUSSION

texturedsoyprotein
Textured Soy Protein

Here is a pagoda SL in a lovely green with a roof rack on the removable roof. According to the owner this was a supposedly-rare example with only the removable roof and no convertible soft top. Normally I hate roof racks but I’ll give this one a pass. This was at the Rockville Antique & Classic Car Show.