Engine: 3.0Litre I-6
Transmission: 4 Speed manual
Fuel Delivery: Direct fuel injection by Bosch
Top Speed: World Record Holder at 161MPH
Curb Weight: 2,410lbs
The iconic Mercedes 300SL is considered to be one of the top ten most desirable collector vehicles by many experts. Since its debut at the 1954 New York Auto Show it was an instant success. Mercedes had gone “all out” producing a racing pedigreed car for the street… and they succeeded in a major way. The 300SL broke new ground in nearly every way possible with technologies like the first ever developed direct fuel injection system. This car also became a record breaker with a recorded top speed of 161MPH, despite the somewhat lowly 212BHP.
The early models with the “Gull Wing” doors are likely the most notable, but in late 1957 when production began on the OTS, or roadster, the car became lighter and faster to really take advantage of the advanced technology of the day. The body was built around an early version of a steel tube “space frame,” which considerably reduced the weight of the vehicle, giving the racing versions an edge over their consistently more powerful Italian rivals. Mercedes also spent a great deal of effort on aerodynamics, not only giving the vehicle yet another advantage on the track but creating a legacy of styling cues that are still visible on the most modern of Mercedes SL series cars.
This particular example is quite rare. Built in 1957, it was one of the first open, two-seater versions available. Chassis number: 198.042.750081 discloses that this was the 81st of its kind built. The first 100 built included a unique design for the exterior door latches. With a passenger side lock-cylinder delete, the handles are spring loaded and slot into a narrow gap in the doors—just one of the ways that Mercedes was able to lower the drag created by the air stream, and a beautiful and extremely rare feature to find on these vehicles.
The history on this vehicle is simply unparalleled, as well. Bought new in Maryland in 1959, this car was sold to its second owner in 1962 (with 24,066 miles on the clock) to a doctor who owned and maintained it to the highest standards until his passing in 2012. In 2006, with only 55,000 miles showing, the doctor called on his trusted mechanic to rebuild the 3.0litre engine. Receipts provide proof that the lower and upper ends were rebuilt with all new parts including pistons, rod and main bearings, a new clutch, brake work and much more. All told, there are 119 pages of service documents and ownership history that have remained with the car to this day. Some pages of note are the pre-purchase inspection and original bill of sale from when the doctor bought the car in 1962. Many pages include hand written notes from the doctor himself, requesting service and parts–the last of which was a service invoice from 2006 in Syracuse, NY, reflecting the engine rebuild.
Near completely original, this 300SL has seen some paint work over the years. The original owners’ manual, jack, tool roll, spare wheel and tire, keys and soft-top head protector pads remain with the car to this very day. Stephen Bell was astonished when he learned of this car and its history and has never seen such a complete collection of ownership documentation accompany a vehicle until now. Correct in every way, this car is an excellent candidate for a driver with a rich patina or even a complete restoration. This 300SL was sold on Friday, 8th March 2013 at the Gooding & Co. Amelia Island Auction in Florida. Details to come!