1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING
Estimate: US$170,000 - US$190,000
Price realised: US$184,000
1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING Chassis No. 198.040 5500 374 Engine No. 198.980 5500 416 Body No. 198.040 5500 390 Mercedes Red with black leather interior Engine: inline six cylinder, single overhead camshaft, 2,996cc., 240bhp at 5,800rpm; Gearbox: four speed synchromesh manual; Suspension: double wishbone front with coil springs and anti-sway bar and rear swing axle with radius rods and coil springs; Brakes: vacuum assisted four wheel finned drums. Left hand drive. When Mercedes-Benz returned to motor racing in 1952, they dominated the major long distance sportscar events with their futuristically styled 300SL race cars. Considerable pressure and a guaranteed 1,000 orders from the Mercedes New York agent convinced Stuttgart to produce a street version of the 300SL, duly launched at the New York Motor Show to ecstatic acclaim. It closely resembled the race cars except that, with all-steel bodywork, appropriate road equipment and larger doors, it was even more stunning. To resolve the carburetor location problems, it was the first production car to have Bosch direct fuel injection, with a resultant increase in power to 240bhp. These cars were not only sensational in appearance, but had a performance that only race drivers normally experienced. It was not surprising that such drivers were eager to buy them, and in order to extract the maximum performance, which ranged from 150-165mph depending on axle ratios, one needed their expert skills. The swing axle rear suspension and drum brakes did require considerable respect when driving on the limit. Even so, these highly specialized and very expensive cars sold amazingly well and 1,400 were hand-built in three years. The current owner purchased this 300SL in highly original and complete condition in the mid 1980s. According to the Gullwing register, this particular example was originally delivered in the very rare Daimler-Benz Strawberry Red Metallic color, though today this 300SL is finished in a different factory color. Following his purchase, the vendor subsequently commissioned a thorough restoration to be undertaken by the noted Mercedes restorations firms of Scott Restorations and Michael Adams Restorations of California. The engine was also completely rebuilt at the same time by Walt Pagenstecher of California. Since its restoration the car has been driven sparingly and the odometer shows less than 38,000 miles. The owner reports that the car is in good driving condition, having been regularly maintained by an independent Mercedes-Benz specialist. The car is complete with matching black leather fitted luggage as well as rare belly pans and heat shields, which are currently not fitted but are included in the sale. Notably the Gullwing is also equipped with an original 1955 Continental spare tire. Overall, this Mercedes-Benz 300SL is in highly presentable condition and shows limited wear in some of the higher stress areas like the leather door sills and delicate metal edging around the pop-out door handles. These spirited road cars, with speed capabilities up to 150mph, are timeless and cherished classics with one of the most distinctive designs ever put to metal and the 300SL on offer exemplifies this in its fine condition and roadworthiness.
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