Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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Lot 148

1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

  • Chassis no. 198.042.8500286
  • Body no. 198.042.8500286

Sold for $957,000


225 bhp (DIN), 240 bhp (SAE), 2,996 cc SOHC inline six-cylinder engine with Bosch mechanical fuel injection, four-speed manual transmission, coil-spring independent front suspension and coil-spring single point swing axle rear suspension, and servo-assisted drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.

  • High-quality restoration to concours standard in elegant, subtle colors
  • Very desirable upgraded alloy engine block
  • “Euro” headlamps, Rudge wheels, fitted luggage, and factory hardtop
  • An excellent 300 SL roadster to show, drive, and enjoy


THE 300 SL ROADSTER

At the 1957 Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz introduced a new version of the celebrated 300 SL wearing open coachwork: the 300 SL Roadster. In an early suggestion of the increasing focus the manufacturer would place on luxury cars over the ensuing decades, the new roadster was above all a more refined car than its gull-winged predecessor.

There was no denying the 300 SL’s mechanical performance, which had decidedly improved in the roadster, with the updated six-cylinder engine receiving the competition camshaft used in the NSL racing Gullwings, good for a lift of 20 horsepower. Handling also benefited from a revised rear suspension with a lower axle pivot-point, minimizing the Gullwing’s tendency for oversteer. Despite the added weight of chassis reinforcement required by an open model, the roadster was every bit the performance car that the Gullwing had proven itself to be.

The roadster’s overwhelmingly luxurious character, however, generally obscured its performance capabilities. With a reclining soft top and elegant concealing cover, the model was never subject to the uncomfortably hot cabin issues that beguiled the Gullwing, and the roadster’s redesigned tube frame afforded lower door sills, facilitating far easier access than the Gullwing’s challenging ingress and egress.

Upholstered in leather and usually equipped with a Becker radio and climate control, the roadster was also offered with sporty Rudge knock-off wheels, fitted trunk luggage, and an ivory or black steering wheel. The new 300 SL was an improvement on the Gullwing in nearly every capacity, at least from a road-going perspective, and it has since evolved into one of Stuttgart’s most collectible models, a darling of both concours fields and vintage rallies.

CHASSIS NUMBER 198.042.8500286

The 1958 300 SL roadster offered here is documented by its original Daimler-Benz data card, a copy of which is on file, as having been destined for a Mr. Johnson of New York, equipped with the 3.89:1 rear axle ratio and a side-view mirror, and built to the usual American specifications. Later part of Steven Wolf’s well-known Florida collection, it was restored several years ago, in what was obviously a superb and exacting effort, in Metallic Silver-Blue with tan leather upholstery, a new dark blue soft top, and all interior components properly restored in the correct materials and finishes.

Interestingly, the car is fitted with a later alloy engine block, a desirable upgrade correct to the final production 300 SL roadsters, as it results in a considerably lighter front end and appropriately more well-balanced handling. The engine block in the car bears its correct original tag but is unstamped, and may well have been a factory-authorized replacement in period.

The car is also equipped with the stylish racing-influenced Rudge knock-off wheels. Something of an icon of 1950s Mercedes performance, these wheels proved popular on the Gullwing, especially those examples that saw track use, but relatively few roadsters were fitted with them—making the set on this car rare indeed. The car is also equipped, as per its factory data card, with a full set of fitted luggage, ideal for touring in a Grand Tourer, especially one with, as on the 300 SL Roadster, an unusually shaped trunk compartment. The crowning touch is a removable hardtop in medium blue, which contrasts nicely with the lighter body panels. The roadster’s factory removable hardtop was designed “into” the car, so that unlike many removable tops, which appear awkward and out of place when installed, it appears right at home and produces a beautiful, snug closed coupe. In fact, it almost recalls the Gullwing.

As an original U.S.-delivery car with bumper guards, in addition to its “triple crown” of options, this car is equipped with a later upgrade to European-style single-lens headlamps. Many feel that this improves the overall appearance of a roadster, and here, the lenses are fresh and beautiful. The 300 SL rides on sports racing tires with a period-correct appearance and shows 21,650 miles, and it is accompanied by original radio manuals; an original English owner’s manual, service booklet, catalogue, and service directory; and a German language service directory.

Today, the 300 SL Roadster still carries with it an indelible aura of speed, power, and sophisticated style. Fast enough for the sports car lover, and comfortable enough for those who demand some luxury, it has remained one of the most admired automobiles in the world for nearly 60 years. The car offered here, with its unusually high assortment of desirable options and accessories, which, combined with a beautiful restoration in an outstanding choice of colors, makes it one of the most attractive examples still on the road.

Addendum

Please note that contrary to the printed catalogue description, this car is not equipped with a radio. Additionally, the reverse gear has become detached and will be repaired at the seller's expense.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more