Mercedes 63 230SL Pergoda

Eugen-Boehringer-W113-230SL-_roadster-1963 pergoda

What do the numbers and letters mean?

You would be forgiven for being a little confused when trying to decipher the seemingly impenetrable wall of gobbledegook involved in car names. You get “GLE” or “SI” or “350”, but none seems even slightly hinting at a meaning.

Badges are usually there to help the buyer navigate through dizzying array of models and variants. It was once very easy and car makers even used similar nomenclatures. SE meant Special Equipment and usually meant a radio and sometimes even a heater, WOO HOO. You felt awfully special if your radio had FM. Air conditioning and power steering were something you might find only in a Rolls or one of those huge yank tanks, but certainly not in a humble aussie car surely?

The average person needs to Mandrake and have a Confucius-like grasp on the subtitle nuances of the workings of the marketing mind to make heads or tales of the letters and numbers. Almost always, the numbers mean the size of the engine in CC’s so a Mercedes 350 CDi would be a 3.5 litre diesel with fuel injection but a Jaguar XJ simply means the full sized limo of the range and are letters plucked from the air 4 decades ago and now mean nothing. Jag now have the XJ limo, the XF full sized saloon and the XK coupe and convertible.  Perhaps we need a Little Black Book of car terms to help!

Then of course there are the model number such as Jaguar X351 or Mercedes w108. This is purely internal but sometimes referred to by journos, salesmen and financiers, but almost never the general public, that’s you and me. Usually the only time it comes in handy to know these things is if you’re buying a bit from a wrecker where you have to be very particular or you’ll come home with exactly the wrong thing. It might look right but a screw hole won’t be in the right place or the seal will be different.

Merdecedes Benz 58 “roundie” limo

58 roundie limo

There is no rhyme or reason to the letters. Sometimes particular models become known by a different name altogether. The 65 Mercedes SL is known as a Pergoda because of the hardtop looking like a Japanese building with its odd but beautiful shape. The saloon model of the 40’s was known as a roundie.

63 Mercedes Beze SL (with detachable Pergoda roof in place)

Eugen-Boehringer-W113-230SL-_roadster-1963 pergoda

There is also a claim that Mercedes Benz were the first with a 4 door coupe, but no, there have been many of which the old Rover 3500 coupe is one. So even if the car is designated coupe, it may well have 4 doors.  One model of Rover, another 3500 was known by its internal codename of SD1 for some odd reason.

Rover 3500 SD1


Rover coupe

3500 Rover_P5_coupérover P5 3500 coupe

In a nutshell, it’s marketing probably designed to make you want to spend more on a model with classier looking letters on the back!