Main.TrailIndexPage | The History of the Group


The following is a set of message exchanges on the original Yahoo SL113 group (which is now defunct) discussing the formation of what would become the "Pagoda SL Group", this community, its website and technical manual. Have a read and see how much we've actually been able to do!

How the group got started...

Rodd Masteller: I have often thought of how to improve and expand our group/list. Making an actual club out of it seems to be the logical next step. We could have:

  • officers
  • meets/events
  • organized searchable archives
  • technical documents consolidated from e-mails
  • printed periodic newsletter
  • advertisement/marketing to attract new members
  • a better web site
  • a better e-mail list service
  • membership dues to support all this
  • non-profit style of operation

One important incentive to work towards a more organized club would be recognition by DaimlerChrysler or the MBCA or whatever it takes to become an "official" club. Besides determing a standard for the chassis, what other benefits could be realised by becoming an "official" club? There are a lot of people that get a lot of benefit from this site (free) and Dorian's site (voluntary donations), so moving to a true club structure with mandatory dues of some sort would require that the club offer a great deal more benefits. I'll start a poll on this subject and we can all vote on this idea.

Tom Hanson: when you form an "official" group, politics always seem to get involved. Then you know what happens...Something to think about.

Hi. Actually, I did not propose anything. I am simply asking if we, as owners, drivers, collectors, restorers, racers, and enthusiasts, would receive more benefits and resources if our status was labeled as an "official" group by DaimlerChrysler or the MBCA or both. The example was defining and maintaining a concourse judging standard for the w113 chassis. I simply extended that thought to, "If an official club can do that, what else can it do?" So, I extended the question to the group. If we were to form an official international club and be recognised by other institutions, then what could we bring to w113 owners above and beyond our current resources? I cited some basic benefits that could be realized with the collection of membership dues, but I'm sure there are more that I didn't think of at the time. Nowhere did I mention this being exclusive to "garage queens", restorers, or any other specific interest group. I realize that we all have different interests, goals, and so forth. That's what makes the group so interesting. I'm just wondering if forming a club would be worth while and of interest to the vast majority of owners. If an official club formed, would I continue with this site? Well, I don't think I have the right to dismantle it, but I would no longer contribute because an "official club" ought to have a good e-mail list system and a content-rich and reliable web site available to it's members. Recent drops of digest messages, limitations to file storage and database formats, and the inability to access the site suggest that we could do better than Yahoo!. So, please vote in the poll. If you would like to provide more feed back, as you have here, please do so. I am very interested in what people have to say on this subject. Tom Hanson's comment about politics is certinly something to consider.

Doug Kim: I think the idea of a "Pagoda club" is a good one -- there's one in Germany, but I'd like to think we already have one right here on the internet as well. Personally, I think we have everything we need right here. I also think the idea of establishing "originality guidelines" is a good one -- NOT purely for car shows either. There's just too much misinformation out there & that kind of stuff just gets worse over time. Just look at the hogwash on many ebay auctions. ("it has the optional leather steering wheel"....."it has a rare factory 8-track tape player"....). In the same spirit, I also encourage everyone to enter their VIN & engine number into the owner's registry that Rodd kindly set up in the database section. future owners will appreciate this. (and FYI, long before the Pagoda, Mercedes used to publish just such a list of owners.) I think everyone on this list agrees that these cars are special & that their history needs to be preserved. Who better to do that than us?

Rodd: Doug, Hi. You make some good points. My counter point to having everything we need right here is that technically, we don't have it. Yahoo! has it. If Yahoo! went bust (Enron), if someone bought Yahoo!, or if they simply decided to stop providing their Group service, then all of our 6800+ e-mails, our megabytes of files/photos, our databases, etc. would be all gone in the blink of an eye. This is not likely to happen, but it's a fact that we don't "own" any of this information that we've compiled over the last two years. That's one point for having a group with it's own resources. But, that comes at a cost. Yahoo! is free, which is why we started using it in the first place. It's a give-and-take situation that will have to be considered.

Rodd, I applaud your enthusiasm for the w113, I certainly have taken benefit from the fruits of it. I was also very interested in the answer to the judging standards question. Not because I want to enter concours, but because it seemed to me to be the definitive answer to some of the questions about the pesky little details that continue to haunt us. If such standards exists for other categories, then I think we could/should help establish such for the w113. An "official" w113 section of MBCA might be nice thing too. While I like the immediacy of this yahoo group and simplicity of the site, Dorian Garson's site eliminates all the problems associated with Yahoo. As far as I can see it IS the "club" site we might envision, complete with "dues" but without the meetings & politics. BTW, wasn't the abandon yahoo question asked and answered? While I don't think the world is inundated with information on the w113, I think improving what's already available should be the goal, another club/site would be just one more source for me to track and verify.

Cees: I agree that we are in effect already a club and that we are also vulnerable to Yahoo owning the information etc. As a member of two other mercedes clubs (UK and The Netherlands) I must say that the practical and tangible benefits I have gotten out of this site far exceed those I get from the two formal clubs combined. At the same time some of the additional activities that Rodd has listed I do currently miss, such as the consolidation of technical information, an own website and, ideally, more actively attracting members. The more information (currently scattered around various sites, clubs etc) gets consolidated and organized, the more accessible and useable it becomes for everyone. Given also all the other (many) remarks about this topic, perhaps it's worth exploring with Dorian G. a "merger" with his site, migrating all of our accumulated info there, and perhaps establishing on a voluntary basis responsibilities for a couple of individuals who are willing to "share the load" of maintaining an expanded service level. Right now Dorian and Rodd are doing most of the work to keep these platforms in the air and if we would want to expand them (e.g. by establishing judging standards, more accessible databases etc) then my personal preference would be to do it through volunteers rather than financial contributions. I'd be willing to dedicate additional time. Finally I think we should be very careful not to risk what we currently have, because in my perception it is already excellent!

Bernt: Any opinions on the new W113 group on ? It is yet another group and I see some of our members are posting there. Since we have doubts about Yahoo, perhaps we need to evaluate if we should all move there and discontinue this group. Don't get me wrong but this group is ultimately going to be discontinued by Yahoo or it will get full etc. I would be very disappointed if all the info we bashed out is lost again. My personal opinion is that the more groups there are on the same topic, the less information there will be on any of them.

Tom Sargeant: Rodd, Doug, Jim, Cees, Bernt, others: I think Rodd is on track. We are exposed to Yahoo in that they could decide to get out of the hosting business and we lose all of the intellectual capital we have built on this site over time. We are exposed to the same risk with Dorian Garrison's site, except the risk is concentrated to one person. Dorian is running his site as a profitable enterprise. That's ok and this is America and that is what this country is all about. However, there are no governance rules other than what is established by that site's owner and web master. And what happens when Dorian sells his car and loses interest? It is not a perpetual undertaking, and I think we all benefit by having an organization with a vested interest in the intellectual capital we are building here. Rodd has done a *remarkable job* with this site, but he has taken the site to the limits of the technology. I think we could all benefit from a better website technology that has some governance standards that are voted on by the group, club, etc.

Bob Geco: Sounds good. Where are the resources going to come from? Money,time cost of paper printing. How much should we charge for a club membership? All seem to be important. Don't forget a website and who is going to maintain that. What commities will be formed to oversee the projects of this club and the cost incurred? Not to speak of who will over see the club bank account and do the bookkeeping and reports. Who are the officers of the club going to be and how do we vote them in? Will we get approval from Mercedes Benz to use the star logo in our publications and how can we service our members overseas? Just a few things to think of be before we step forward. Remember no looking back and no I told you so's. All thoses in favor of starting a Pagoda club step forward!

Wow, this really got a discussion thread going fast! I created a database some time ago for us to enter opinions of Yahoo's site and service, but this is getting much more activity then a database. If this level of traffic on this topic keeps up, I will try to track all these comments and compile them in the database every few days. Please note:

  • I have not proposed that we start a club.
  • I have not proposed that we abondon this site.
  • I have not proposed that we abondon Dorian's site.

I have simply asked what the benefits would be if we were to be an "official" club. I have also asked what it takes to be "official", or what is the definition of "official". If we can solidify the pros and cons of this, then we can decide if it's something to persue. If so, then we ask about officers, accounting, etc. and how that might work. There are many choices of how to actually make the club a reality, I just want to know if it's even worth looking at. Thanks for you input! Keep it coming.


Tom, you are right. I don't think Dorian hides the fact that the donations collected are taken in return for his time spent working on his site. I'm not sure how much financial cost was incurred when creating or updating the site, but the donations go into his well-deserving pockets. From there, he either re-invests in the site or buys parts for his car or what ever. It's his money to spend and he's earned it the right way - good product and service. Now, on the other hand, a Club should be oriented towards a non-profit or not-for-profit model. (I think there's a difference.) So, if our group can come up with enough positive reasons to actually do something like this, then we would have to look at how it would be hosted, financed, managed, etc. These are all issues to be settled later, if we even do this thing at all. Currently, let's examine what benefits we could achieve and what costs may be incurred. I supplied a few examples in my original e-mail, I would like to hear more from the list. I'll update these in the database. Thanks everyone!

"jynjernjim": I'd like to share some of my non-profit organization experience. First to remind everyone that *non* profit doesn't mean NO profit. It means that the membership does not recieve direct financial gain. Every organization must have a positive revenue stream to survive. Therefore the costs associated with organization must be offset by, say, dues or subscriptions, and say, advertising in the group newsletter. Which Dorian is already pursuing. Inevitably, if an organization is successful, the "management" exceeds the ability or technical expertise of the volunteers and/or even the deepest well of the dedicated volunteers runs dry. The necessity for consistent, qualified management gives rise to the paid organization manager or Executive Director, and you guessed it, the need for more revenue. Dorian is already acting as an executive director (and, I assume, he wouldn't mind being successful enough to pay himself). What safeguard do we have against a dictatorship or price gouging? The whole site is revenue driven, unhappy members mean less members, fewer members mean lower ad revenue (no audience) and less dues/subscriptions, that means less left over for the manager pay. It would be in any site owners' best interest to keep the site accessible and affordable. What happens when Dorian loses interest or when Rodd loses interest? Now that's a good question. But I would wager that it would depend on the strength of the volunteer membership and the financial success of the organization. That's the flip side of beneficial paid help. Organizations that depend too much on the paid help don't live long and even less long after that help departs. Could Dorian sell the site if it were profitable? Why not. The major concern seems to be that we don't "own" the information on yahoo and on Dorian's site he would be the defacto owner. IMHO, we ultimately can not guaranty access to the information unless we pay for it. Sure the archive and files are valuable, but it’s the membership/participants that is/are the site value, because eventually someone else is going to own my car and hopefully they are going to want to talk with others who own one like it. I'm not on Dorian's payroll or saying that his particular site must be chosen the ultimate destination, only that if I had to design organizational collateral and web support system from scratch for this group today, I'd try to buy his, before I tried reinventing the wheel. Dorian is likely less fickle and infinitely more reliable than Yahoo because even if he sells his car and loses interest, he knows what we care about. Yahoo just cares that we can't avoid their advertisers. There, I've said too much, next?

David C. Seidman: Fellow listers: In addition to the MBCA, I also belong to the Rolls-Royce owners Club; an approach that they use might make sense here. The club - like the MBCA – is broken down into regions - fewer of them than the M-B club, but there are fewer members. It also has special sections devoted to particular models (e.g., I belong to the "Derby Bentley Society" [Bentleys made between 1933-1939]; the Silver Cloud/S Society [R-R's and B's built 1955-1965, aka Clouds]; the Modern Car Society [1966 to present]). Each of these groups is able to focus on the particular technical challenges of their chosen model, and also organizes activities for their members that highlight their particular cars. Unfortunately, each does have [1] dues, [2] officers, [3] rules, etc., etc. It is a way of institutionalizing the databases and sharpening the focus while working within the parent club. Might there be a way of doing this - if only as a back-up to the Yahoo site - within MBCA?* Just a thought.

Cees Klumper: Just looked at the W113 list on - there's very little there so far (unless I am missing something) and in any case it doesn't look nearly as user-friendly as our Yahoo set-up. I agree that the more sites/groups there are, the less effective each one is. There should be two or three at the most I think.

Richard Madison: If we want judging standards and information on originality (I think that's what started this discussion), we don't need a "club" to do that. Recognition by MBCA or DaimlerChrysler will add national dues, national club rules, political problems, and a layer of unwelcome oversight. Take a look look at which is just one page of a great site with tons of info. Also another example of a site that has info on originality, running changes, photos...and a lot more could be added. I don't think these are clubs as such, just web sites with lots of contribution in an organized way. My point is that you don't need a sanctioned club to do this, just the dedication of tireless volunteeers. Perhaps Yahoo isn't the best place to keep our group since Yahoo might fold at any time and we lose the archives etc. but maybe forming a club is unnecessary to get the result we want. Perhaps we need a site we can control (whoever "we" is) and an organized way to collect and post info, perhaps assign data collection tasks to volunteers by their area of interest such as exterior colors, tops, interiors, wheel covers, running changes, production history, or some other scheme. Maybe a club is unnecessary baggage.

John W Hass: nur meine zwei Pfennige, aber.... I rely on this site for an exchange of technical information and to correspond with other 113 owners. I don't care if you're a concours purist looking for 100% originality or (like I) one who enjoys his Pagode as a daily driver. IMHO, let's keep it informal. If you're really into shows and judging standards, why not create a separate group dedicated to that pursuit? I agree wholeheartedly with some other previous posts: if we create a "club" Pandora is standing by with her box of ills, politics, egos, usw. John, San Antonio, 1969 280SL, 4-speed (not fully original, but an incomparable drive).

Rodd: Jim, I don't know if you've said "too much", but perhaps you've just spoken up too early on these topics. Step back to the original issue, please. Look at it this way:

  1. What benefits would a Club provide that we now lack?
  2. Are these benefits worth persuing?
  3. What is the cost of persuing these benefits?

I think too many people are at Step 3 right now in this conversation. I have not heard one person plainly list reasons for forming an Club with dues paying members. If we don't have a reason to do it, then there's no point in talking about how a club would be run, how money would be handled, and so on. I'm looking for straightforward lists from everyone that state reasons for or against forming a Club.

And: Jim, Then everyone would have to join the MBCA to be in the W113 group and I don't think everyone wants to do that. There are some anti-MBCA people in this world. Also, we are a global group right now and the "A" in MBCA stands for America. I would hate to exclude our excellent global membership.


Dorian's site is started down the right road for what I would envision as a Club site. Ownership and management of content and information is key. Navagation of his site is good and there are other points. Of course, there are issues with just jumping on his site and calling it The Official International Pagoda Group. First, I would want to have a say in how my "dues" are spent. For now, he is collection "donations", so it's his money to do whatever with. If he takes your donation and buys oil filters, that's his business. Now "dues" for a Club, that's a different story. There's accounting, checks and balances, etc. Of course, there are a lot more issues than that, but again we are talking about Step 3!! Yes, the "Abandon Yahoo!" question was raised before and I had several people strongly suggesting we manage our own site. One list member even suggested donating web server hardware! There is backing for this from some people, while others are completely content with what we have. That's why I want to focus on Step 1. That is, what can forming a Club do for us?


Cees, Hi. Here's some Step 3 thoughts. To merge the sites would take a lot of effort. I don't even know how it could be done. Perhaps Dorian and I could put our Geek hats on and figure it out. Never the less, performing this merger, compiling thousands of e-mails into "how-to" and "reference" documents, and other tasks would take considerable amounts of time. If I put that much work into it, I would expect some "pay back" and I would expect the same of other people. I assume that's exactly why Dorian started asking for Donations. It took him time, and perhaps cash, to develop his site. If we get several people putting in significant time, and perhaps cash, then how do you divide the Donations? This gets into the whole "How a Club is operated" discussion and is a whole other can of worms. It's an interesting discussion, but not one I'm ready for. I know there are lots of people who are willing to volunteer time and resources, but let's see if it's really necessary to go down that road in the first place.


OK, so you vote for an official dues paying Club so we can have a group of people manage the information generated by and for the Club and this would be done on Club resources. Good example. What other benefits would you expect if you were paying dues to this Club?


Bob, Hi. Before starting down the road of how to operate a Club, let's see if we even need one. If you were to pay annual dues to a Club, what would you expect? If there's nothing you need, then there's no point in talking about cost of paper printing, etc. The end (benefits) will justify the means (dues).


Richard, Hi. If what you want from a Club/Group/Site is compiled information, then you need to pay someone to compile, update, and secure it. Or, as you mentioned, it could be done by "tireless volunteeers". Either way, it needs to be done using resources controlled by the Club/Group/Site. Dorian has this, Yahoo! is very limited in this. Dorian collects donations, Yahoo! does not. I guess it all goes back to Step 1. What do you want from the Club/Group/Site? It sounds like you want more than Yahoo! can deliver, but not the "overhead" of an organized Club. Well, what if Dorian hits the big lottery numbers and moves to Aruba? I don't think he'll be worried about the Pagodas as much then. Yes, it's a silly example, but the point is that the Club structure would provide contingencies to ensure constant information availability. I'm not talking about protection from a one time event. I'm talking about protection for generations of Pagoda owners well into the future. We just have to decide if it's worth paying for. You know, measure the risk against the benefits. What do you want that we don't have now?


John, OK. One more vote for "we need not change anything". It's a valid point that what we have has worked for some time. Is there anything lacking in our system or services? Could you think of expanding or improving on anything?


Bob, Hi. Storing the info on CD is a great goal. The problem lies in organizing the data. We have over 6800 messages with incredibly useful content (detailing, transmissions, suspensions, engines, etc.) and no way to compile it. If some body was willing to take several hours a week for the next few months, then they could probably go through each message one at a time and catagorize it. Once you had all the message files copied in to several catagories, then you would have to sort through the message contents to see what was correct (yes, we can all state bad info from time to time), what was right for different chassis or engine runs, etc. and then compile those messages into full-bodied documents covering various points of interest in each catagory. That's a lot of work. A lot! Anyone know a better way? Any volunteers?

Tom Sargeant: Rodd, thanks again for moderating such a provacative topic. You asked for other benefits:

  • Negotiated prices from vendors for group purchases.
  • sponsor refabrication of parts/components not available, e.g.:
    • Canvas tool kit
    • Frigking face plates
    • Original and true decals
    • How about an authentic fire wall cover?!!!
  • Organized Social Events
  • Democratic representation so that no one person controls the site
  • Retention & distribution of intellectual capital created by posts
  • Club sanctioned standards for judging pagodas at car shows
  • A cohesive org to perpetuate knowledge & support for our cars.

For those opposed to a club, there is no need to feel threatened. An open club with the right intentions done right will allow non-members or those that do not pay dues to participate in discussion boards, etc. And no need to be concerned with politics, as board posting and review would be open-those not interested can rise above the political fray and just post and read and not participate further. I really view such an arrangement alot like what Dorian has done- voluntary contributions. The principal difference is the need for democratic control over content so that all of our posts and hard work are not lost by one person's or company's changing interests. If this is not time to form a club or a new site, then I and trust others will continue to happily post, read, learn and support this group. My concern is centered on democratic control and active contributions from technical experts. Have you noticed that Frank Mallory, Arthur Dalton and other technical experts have stopped posting? I visited with Frank Mallory recently and asked him why- his answer was difficulty in using site and managing around ads. Our goal should be first to encourage and enhance postings and knowledge of this board. If a club were to detract from that, I would be against a club. I think if done correctly it could provide the technical forum we need while offering additional benefits for those that want to participate more fully.

Bill Rader: hi Group, I believe this group is simular to a church.It is made up of people not a building or in our case a web site. Burn down the building the church still exists.If Yahoo "burns" us down we will continue on elseware. I don't think we have to worry about our database being lost. The database is in our colective heads. Ask a question,get an answer. That’s what its all about. I don't think a club will make an improvement on that. So many things have been said about this subject that I can't comment on them all but I would like leave you all with a thought. Why fix something that is working? I guess you all now know how I will vote. I look forward to some day meeting Rodd, shaking his hand, and thanking him for starting this group.

ivorysl: Came home from work expecting to relax reading some 113 posts and found this heavy stuff. The yahoo group site is perfect for me except for the archaic web design. I see a ton of posts on the subject of forming a club but it would take me so long to read them I won't do it, not after the day I've had. The membership here is terrific. I get great feedback from nice people all over the world. The problem is that the site does not encourage "chatting", short posts that are meant to be read as part of a string like on Pelcian Parts BBS, check it out. It's free. We got the right people but not the right mechanism to communciate. Personally I don't want to go to 2 or 3 different sites, I just want to go to the one that has the most posts. We need one great site not 2 pretty good ones. So I vote to improve the site in terms of usability. Re ads doesn't make a difference to me, I'm OK getting for free with ads or paying and having no ads. Since free would have more activity I would vote for that, there aren't many of us and if we lose people it becomes a pretty sleepy site.

Cees Klumper: Right now the benefits I get from the two formal clubs, as I perceive them, are limited to the monthly (UK) or bi-monthly (NL) club magazine. Principally because they contain ads from professional suppliers (so I know who they are and where to find them), ads from private individuals for parts, cars etc. and in general, reading about my car. Of course these clubs also organize events, maintain spare parts supplies, provide technical advice by specialists and so on but the events don't interest me that much (they're more social than car-related!), the spare parts supply tends to be overpriced, and the technical advice I get from this group is far superior. I also don't think the two formal clubs are concerned about preserving the detailed information and knowledge necessary to maintain our cars in tip-top shape in the manner that I've been reading about the last 24 hours on this site. So when I really stop and think about it, I am willing to pay quite substantial membership dues for not-so-great benefits. Also the fact that these clubs cater to all mercedes (UK) or all classic Mercedes (NL) models, reduces their ability to provide me as a Pagoda owner with what I am looking for. Potential important benefits I can see getting from a more formalized club than we currently are, in descending order of importance:

  • a more organized way to manage the archives and make available the very valuable content that's in there
  • continuity, i.e. not being dependent on a host (like Yahoo) or one or two individuals
  • a channel for getting NLA parts remanufactured at reasonable prices
  • acting on behalf of members in insurance disputes, concourse standards, discussions with MB about certain topics, etc.

Potential disadvantages:

  • if membership would cost money, it would cost members, and this should be avoided at all cost
  • if it behaves too much like a club, i.e. move away from the current "democratic" set-up, it would cost members

P.s. - interestingly, the professional specialized (Dutch) garages/shops that I have talked to about participating in our group, or at least reading the posts to ensure they have as much knowledge as relevant for them to do their job, maintain that it would take them too much time and, "they already know all that they need to anyhow". This last point they have disproven to me on a many occasions. So I am sure that, if the information in our 6000+ posts were to be aggregated and edited properly, even they would benefit and, in turn, all those people who, unlike most of us, do not tinker with their cars themselves but are more or less fully dependent on the pros.

I like the "Stammtisch" feel of this group. For some of you "Stammtisch" is German for the table that the regulars sit at in the Gasthaus. However, it is much much more, it is normally a group of like minded folks (like us) who come together to play cards; were all in the military (retiries and Reservisten) to discuss the current and past military politics (I won't go there); etc. Come tonight if you like or stay home, it doesn't matter, but when you come you are a "Kamerad." You can get mad a leave for a night or forever; you can express your feelings and experiences freeley; and do some 1/2 litere arm lifts; but the "Stammtisch" will go on with an ebb and flow of folks until it dies due to lack of interest and then another "Stammtish" will evolve. This is what I like about our group.

Benefits I would be looking for if I were just new at W113 ownership and wanted to join your W113 Group & pay dues. Looking at this as a www based organization where the Group is selling information and the buyer, i.e. new club member has to have percieved value inorder to take his/her money away from them year after year. These are not in order and are only a stream of thought.

  1. Finished how to projects. I am part of a 2.3 Turbo Group. There are lots of How-To complete a project with wiring/vacume diagrams, pictures, parts lists, procedures, etc.
  2. News letter
  3. Events
  4. Club sponsered parts discount
  5. Buy/Sell/Want postings
  6. Discussion page (very much like we have now on Yahoo)
  7. Comprehensive ORGANIZED links page
  8. Data gallery
  9. Photo gallery
  10. Subject Matter Expert list for problems
  11. A DC representative committed to assisting the group. I would perceive someone form the MB Classic Car Center in Stuttgart who could answer questions and provide service.

Overall, I'm not much of a Club person because I've seen many potentially enjoyable opportunities among like-minded people like ourselves diminished by the inevitable politics involved in a club. However, I do belong to several car clubs (one of them is the SL-Club-Pagode in Germany which is hosting its annual meeting in one of my home towns, Berlin this August) and while they all offer something worthwhile as long as it's is still "new", I have by far gotten the most out of our group in terms of information, the Stammtisch feel, that was mentined and a general feeling of wanting to tune in to "the group". Also there is the question of the cost of memberships in several clubs for different marques and types of cars for those people that aren't made of money and the limited time we all have to participate in yet another group. As far as short-comings of this group I'll have to leave that to the more computer-oriented people and foremost our very generous Rodd, but there is also something to be said for 2 years of success. Now, as far as judging standards are concerned, I would very much like to be involved, although my knowledge is currently limited mostly to 280Sls. I could be one of the go-to guys (or come-from?) to help add information to such a data-base. While I'm at it, the rocker panel covers were covered with a stone guard Schutz material and black (Dunkeltiefgrau). I won't say never or always though, but I'm very solid on this and many other smaller details.

I had originally joined Dorian's Web-site very early on as well and while I appreciate that Dorian probably puts a lot of work into the site, I was a little put off by the sense that the donations seemed to be expected (hard sell) and I couldn't quite see what was being offered that our group hadn't already supplied. Regardsless, I tried to use the sight every now and then, but found that I no longer had access to the member features. I guess, this would be a feature or a priviledge that I would maybe expect to have/use if donations were voluntary, but would feel a little uncomfortable using anyway, if they are expected. I guess what I am trying to say is that I feel that the stength and joy of our original W113 list is that members contribute freely, time and knowledge permitting, with varying degrees of generosity.

Bob Smith: hi Rodd and group, I actually like the friendliness and willingness of members of this group to help us non-technical members to have our technical problems solved in a non-judgemental way, without fear of asking uninformed questions. As I read the POSTS on the web site, I often Browse the Message Index looking for topics of interest. There are so many useful topics with insightful responses. We are very lucky to have such experienced members. One limitation of the Yahoo site is the function of SEARCH. It is possible to copy the posts of interest to our own PCs. I have created my own library. To free up databases ....Given the similarities of the 2 Colour Codes Matrix for MBTex and Leather databases, is it possible to combine them? Similarly, if the Options, Paint, Interior, Soft Top Colour CODES are unique, maybe those databases could be combined. Another consideration .....a PAY club would be based in the USA and subscriptions would be in US Dollars. Given the international exchange rates, fees for international members like myself (Australia) would be almost double the US members' fees. As a normal worker with a passion for W113 cars, I Do Not want to pay a large fee. I would rather put that money into my car. I like this site because it is free. I have a cable connection so the advertising doesn't bother me at all. Regarding Concours judging standards.... I think there is need for a standard to be established. I envisage this as being the BIBLE when it comes to the ultimate restoration project. At this time, it is something that i don't see myself using. I do agree that a definitive reference on the colours and options etc., of the W113 is necessary. This could be separate from the concours standards.

Bill, Hi. It's not only about saving our information. That was just one of my issues. I'm asking everyone if there's something they would like improved or changed. If you like it the way it is, that's fine. You are not alone in that and we all respect that opinion. I feel there are things we could do to make this a better site/group/club, so I'm just wondering if others have aspirations as well. If so, then we can see if it's worth changing anything and how it can be changed in a way to keep current participation and even increase it.

I have to concur with all the messages about the free email and Yahoo groups. The whole point of this W113SL group was to act as a relay and podium for all of us to open up and ask questions and seek answers or opinions from each other. We all probably own one of these SL's and want to learn more about them. And in order to do that we speak up so others can hear our voices and reply or join us in the search for the answers. If we shift over to a formal 'club' format like MBCA or MBGullwing or MB190SL then we need to have all sorts of politics and formal functions like electing a board and start charging members an earnest fee to perform the functions of a formal 'club'. I'd rather let it run the way it is now and not worry about the fees and board members and a newsletter. We or at least I can gather all the info from the archives or asking others what the answers are.

Hi Group. When I first decided to search for an SL, I also began searching for groups and clubs that would help in my understanding and enjoyment of the car. I joined the MBCA and through someone's posting in that forum discovered this list. I'm still a dues paying member and enjoy the magazine. But other than that, I haven't "logged on" since. Many thanks to you Rodd and anyone else who keeps this thing running. And many thanks to all of you who FREELY share your knowledge, views, photos, videos and stories. I feel I'm missing something if I don't have the time to read every post.

I'll join the chorus supporting what we already have, long as Rodd and anyone else who helps him are happy with the arrangement. Volunteer burnout has to be considered, and none of us can really know how much work is involved, especially if we wish to expand the site. I agree that it is the access to each other that makes this site work, but some members put more into it than it may appear. Joe Alexander for example has been a wonderfully helpful member, with 30+ years as an MB mechanic I believe, and from what I understand he doesn't own a 113. I imagine many listers, including myself have contacted him offline with specific questions. Will he get tired of this ? Should we make him honorary Oracle? Buy him a beer?

Will we unwittingly "use up" the most knowledgeable (like Will Samples) and those who do the most for the group? My guess is that most of the members are new 113 owners and of course we are excited to make our cars "better" and want to know "everything" and because the archives aren't easy we ask the same questions a lot. If one of the main worries is losing the archives, maybe there is someway to save them without organizing them and continue as is until such time as we have to make a change. Or maybe some of us could volunteer to organize a folder on a topic and then repost the results. (I want all the Injector pump info...... now that I'm ready to tackle it, ..but its not easy to dig it out). Dorian's site and the new w113.mbz are really more of the same and most of us can't get enough 113 so I can't see a need to merge them, what else would we do in the evening, watch TV :-( or try to tell our wives about suspension bushings :-)

This is one of the very few lists that I have seen remain consistently informative and almost completely apolitical -- please, let's not change it, at least for the time being. Like most of us in the group, I am interested in the cars, their history, repair and restoration. I look forward to the posts to confirm what I think I know and surprise me with things that I do not know. Let's keep it that way!

Pete Lesler: all - please do not take this too much to heart. The 190SL group is indeed offical to the extent that they charge dues, publish a newsletter, have established themselves selves as non-profit entity and have annual 190SL group meets where they judge cars, conduct technical seminars and may have driving events, etc. If the w113 group wished to do the same, then go for it. I will volunteer my experiences in creating the MBCA judging sheet and guidlines to the group. Only provided we intend to actually use such a document and train judges in the utilization of it at competitively judged events.

Michael Salemi - OK, Here's my two cents:

  1. I am not bothered by the Yahoo ads--only because I don't even notice them anymore, and I certainly don't pay any attention to them. The only thing that is bothersome is the occasional double click to get through to the message, but with a DSL line this is only a minor annoyance. I do think however, that the graphics format of this and Dorian's site is probably too cumbersome for dial-up users. By subscribing in digest format, you avoid the graphics, but your replies (unless carefully crafted) don't refer back the the "thread" of the original subject. I've felt that is quite a problem for some time, and I have not seen much change in the postings by those getting the digest format.
  2. I think Dorian's site as compared to the existing Yahoo site is overly complex, I don't want to have to think about navigating it. As he is in the business of developing the software, he should take note. The Yahoo "scheme" is very well done--sure it has limitations, but what doesn't? And, there is too much that is repeated between the two. I think Dorian's site tried to solve a problem that we didn't have, OR is just a test-bed for his employer. That is not to denigrate his efforts, but I don't have time to deal with multiple sites like this. ONE GOOD ONE is all we need, and we all have to be a subscriber.
  3. ATTACHMENTS. All of a sudden, a good number of the postings when viewed in MESSAGES view appear to have attachments (i.e. the message listing indicates an attachment) but when you go to the message, there is not actually any attachment! Anyone else notice this?
  4. I've found the group to be a valuable resource and I enjoy getting good information as well as sharing my experiences. I've developed a good number of "off-line" individual conversations and hopefully friendships as well. In a sense we have a club already.
  5. Before I discovered this group, I subscribed to a similar forum on the MBCA website and found myself totally inundated with message digests. Unfortunately the group was not divided up, and frankly I have little interest in a 1985 220D, or a 2002 SLK. The MB marque is too wide over too long a time frame to have a single forum--that's what is so great about our group--a singular focus.
  6. I'd certainly be willing to volunteer some time and computer skills (rudimentary as they are) towards a sanctioned 113 club. I think however, we should be a sub-group of the MBCA or something--I don't believe in re-inventing the wheel.

Pete Lesler: in order to create judging standards and a sheet for just the W113 models, we do not need to establish a club, nor do we need to create a W113 group under the MBCA umbrella. I tried to do that about 7-8 years ago and the politics were awful!! I actually authored three newsletters that were mailed to about 250 recipients. Jim Luikens was the editor/publisher. We did this for free to all interested parties. The budget to accomplish this was established by the Sub Group Committe which I chaired at that time. The reason for the establishment of the Sub Groups was to prevent exodus from MBCA the older car enthusiasts to newer start ups like the 190SL group the M100 group etc.

Dorian Garson posted, on February 18, 2003, at 10:46 AM: “Hey, There's a new W113 online forum: It looks like it's off to a really great start. Nice clean design, and some familiar-looking content and features! It looks far more friendly to use than the Yahoo group. Let's give it a great big hand in kick-starting the discussion there. Get posting today! Annual dues for the site/club are only US$30 or Euro 30, making it the least expensive option on the 'net. Congratulations to Richard Madison on the fine work he's done, and to the rest of the founders of the "W113 Pagoda SL Group Club, The International Club for Mercedes 230 SL, 250 SL, 280 SL Roadsters"!

At 11:18, Cees posted: “Actually the basic membership to the W113 Pagoda SL Group, with unrestricted participation in the discussion forum (as we have now with Yahoo!) will be totally and absolutely free, but more details about the site and the volunteer club behind it, will be posted soon (the site is still in its final development stages)!”

Dorian again (12:37 AM): Hmm, it sounds like a replacement site for this very old, very informative Yahoo! group. I hope the message archive for this group does not get deleted!”

Cees, 12:43: “The 11000+ Yahoo posts are being catalogued as we speak (I did the first 3000 of them already, totalling over 200 pages of organized, great information - a lot of work but extremely worthwile, as you point out).”

Then, at 1:24, Cees wrote: “Last summer, there were quite a few messages here, discussing the problems with the Yahoo site and some possible alternatives. Taking these comments as a starting point, several Yahoo Group members have been working very hard to create an alternative. Several of us who are active members and supportive of the Yahoo! W113 Group agreed that something better was possible. The Yahoo! Group site suffers from intrusive advertisements, a weak and frustrating search mechanism, the inability to easily follow a discussion thread, the limited number of database files that can be created, the inability to customize the site as needed, and more. After many e-mail discussions, internet chats and some face-to-face meetings, we believe we have developed a much improved way to enjoy Pagoda W113 cars: the W113 Pagoda SL Group, The International Club for Mercedes 230 SL, 250 SL, and 280 SL Roadsters. It's a new Group with a better focus and a better web site, at:

The new web site will allow more convenient ways to share our knowledge and information, organize and enjoy W113 events, and assist one another in improving, maintaining, and enjoying our cars. The new site will be the home of a new W113 club that will be able to support the international preservation and appreciation of the W113 cars. With enough membership, we can even encourage the production of unavailable parts and accessories for 113's and accomplish other historically difficult feats. Basic membership, which includes access and participation in the forum discussion, is and will always be free. Improvements to the site over Yahoo! include the ability to participate in a new message forum, follow discussion threads by topic, access a database filled with technical information derived from the best Yahoo! Posts, access a W113 Owner's Registry, and advanced search engines that will accurately and quickly search the site including databases and messages. On the site you will also find listed all the benefits of becoming a member, including the added benefits of becoming a full member. We have received a great deal of support from around the world. Officers from the National MB Clubs of the UK, The Netherlands and Spain have provided support and encouragement. Prominent MB personalities are behind this effort as well. We have even visited with Daimler-Chrysler in Stuttgart and they, too, encourage this initiative. Most importantly, there is an incredible amount of enthusiastic volunteer support from the founding members.

This is a true not-for-profit organization. We believe that forming an organized international group with a proper charter and an elected Board of Directors is the best way to preserve the information and promote the preservation of these fine cars for generations to come. A successful Group must be self-sustaining and we believe this is the best way to do accomplish that goal. Other clubs dedicated to perpetuating the knowledge of a single model or series which have achieved notable success include the Gullwing Group and the 190 SL International Group. We hope you will consider joining us on our new site and becoming an active contributor to what we hope will be an improved center for W113 information and preservation. We welcome your comments!

The Founding Members of the W113 Pagoda SL Group:

  • Cees Klumper
  • Rodd Masteller
  • Achim Ahlert
  • Doug Kim
  • Jan Dikken
  • Tom Sargeant
  • Roger Polls
  • Richard Madison
  • Albert de la Torre Chavalera
  • Bob Geco
  • Peter Ruehl

Peter van Es: All, I really applaud your efforts. I think that if we can collate all relevant information contained in the Yahoo group and from the site on that it will become a great and useful source of information. One feature which I however feel we should not lose is that of a mailing list, like this one. It forces you to keep up to date, and for me, at least, the barrier of posting to the mailing list is lower than accessing a forum on a web-site, navigating around all the categories and so on to find new posts and then composing and entering a reply. I prefer doing that through a mailing list: it ensures I miss no messages, and it is easy to reply. However, linking some kind of mailing list functionality with forums is only a technical issue, I’m sure. I will certainly join the group and aim to contribute. The first contribution I’ve made is to copy Cees’ message intact on my web-site with a reference to the new site. That will help it get indexed by search engines such as Yahoo, Google, Lycos et al, since my site already gets indexed. Everyone, add a link to from your own site and it will pick up relevance in the search engine rankings much quicker. Good luck and let’s all participate... Peter

Rodd: Hi. We looked long and far for a web forum application that would also perform e-mail distribution engine work. We found none. The basic difficulty is that forums are arranged by topic. If I create a topic on the web forum, it makes sense that the new message could be e-mailed to everyone, but none of the software allows you to reply to that e-mail and have it placed in the same topic thread in the forum. I was suprised to find this, but we looked at 5 or 6 web forum applications and none did this. We e-mailed tech support for these applications and nobody could suggest a package that met the dual needs.

Peter again: Although I’m all for diversity, having relevant information in one place is my preference. I have too many other things to do to do everything. has petered out to next to nothing. This list is pretty active, but so may be the new forum based site. One place will ultimately become the most frequently used by people, and therefore the most useful. It may take a week for this to happen, it may take many months. But happen it will. If we can face up to this, and try and provide technical features so that everyone is happy with the way they access the information (be it e-mail lists or web-based forum) then that place is likely to be the winner.

And - Rodd, thanks for the reply. I understand that now from having looked around a bit on the forums on the site. In the past, when Usenet was the “forum of choice” people quickly found ways of integrating Usenet with Web based forums, (although usually in the other direction... post in Usenet, view on the web, a bit like Google Groups or DejaNews). Maybe someone will develop the gateway needed for the kind of stuff I’d like to see. I understand the software you’re using is freeware and developed on sourceforge. Have you posted a question there with the developers to see if they have encountered this requirement before and come up with solutions ?

The W113 Pagoda SL Group, that originated directly from this Yahoo! group (in fact the decision to go ahead with it was made at the evening of Joe Alexander's tech session in Ohio, when Rodd, Tom Sargeant, Achim Ahlert, and myself met face-to-face) is undertaking all of the activities of a "regular" Mercedes enthusiasts club, including producing a quarterly newsletter,"Pagoda World". Rodd is its editor-in-chief. The very first issue will come out very soon, and will be printed out in hardcopy and mailed out to all full members. Full membership is $30 per year. The basic membership, which allows you to participate in the discussion forum, gives access to the technical articles (which are catelogued and edited posts off Yahoo!), among other things, is and will always be free to all. We are also working on writing the definitive W113 Pagoda manual (ownership, maintenance and repairs) which will be published when finished, in another year or two. The board, consisting of 11 founding members, are all strictly volunteers and, of course, Pagoda enthusiasts. We are working together with national MB clubs in organizing events, providing relevant information to each others' members etc etc. We strive to help Pagoda enthusiasts around the work make the most of owning their W113 SL. If you have not yet, please check us out at

Recent developments

When we introduced a new system for our website and forum (see this article) in 2008, the membership renewal system became automated. We've always had around 2000-2500 non-paying members (basic members, now called associate members), but in 2008 around 260 Full (paying) members. When we professionalised the site and the membership administration, the numbers grew dramatically, to around 690 Full Members today.

Even though we were organising more events, producing Pagoda Notes and Pagoda World, we started building a sizeable reserve that became more and more difficult to protect because we were not an official entity anywhere in the world. That status had served us well up until now, but became more and more a liability.

In 2013, after consultation with the membership, we decided to incorporate the Pagoda SL Group, but with the express goal of remaining a truly international, inclusive group with a very, very low cost base. In 2014 we became incorporated in the state of Florida as Pagoda SL Group, Inc. We are a Social Group (§501(c)7) within the meaning of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States. We needed to modify our charter to bylaws, which are presented here.

The group is now ready for another phase of its successful existence.
< The current bylaws of the Group | Main.TrailIndexPage | About Membership of the Group >