Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

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.


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 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).

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


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.