28-29 January 2016

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Lot 239

1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

  • Chassis no. 198.042.8500154
  • Engine no. 198.980.8500131
  • Body no. 198.042.8500153

Sold for $1,265,000

215 bhp (DIN), 240 hp (SAE), 2,996 cc overhead-cam inline six-cylinder engine, 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.

  • Recently restored by renowned marque specialists Rudi & Company
  • Desirable and beautiful color combination; includes matching luggage
  • Original matching-numbers engine
  • An exquisitely presented 300 SL Roadster

To say that the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was ahead of its time would be an understatement. The 300 SL heralded a new era for Mercedes-Benz road cars; it utilized an innovative space-frame chassis coupled with a race-bred, fuel-injected engine, the first of its kind fitted to a production car, and was clothed in breathtaking bodywork.

It was conceived by American Mercedes-Benz importer Max Hoffman, who believed that a road-legal version of the successful W194 racer would be profitable in the United States and that the power and styling of such a car would appeal to the American market. Mercedes-Benz took Hoffman up on his idea, and it was only natural that the new 300 SL would premiere at the New York Auto Show in 1954. The 300 SL coupe quickly earned the nickname “Gullwing” for its distinctive roof-hinged doors, and the public fell in love with the car, not only for its breathtaking design but also for its earth-shattering performance.

Of course, the best way to keep customers coming back to Mercedes-Benz was to create a drop-top version of the 300 SL. A prototype model of a convertible 300 SL was first spotted by the German magazine Auto, Motor und Sport in 1956, and the production version would first be shown at the Geneva Motor Show one year later. By the end of 1957, the final Gullwings had left the production line, and production began on the 300 SL Roadster.

The roadster offered a host of improvements over its gull-winged predecessor. In an effort to improve entrance and egress, Mercedes-Benz lowered the central section of its space-frame, crafted smaller sills, and fitted larger doors to the car. Strength was maintained, nonetheless, with the addition of diagonal struts, which braced the lowered side sections to the rear tubular members. Engineers also revised the suspension to create a more comfortable ride and improve handling. At the rear, the spare tire was repositioned below the trunk floor, necessitating a smaller fuel tank but also maintaining reasonable luggage space. These revisions to the roadster added some 250 pounds to the total weight of the car, mostly due to the convertible top. However, the car remained quite quick nevertheless and boasted a factory-claimed top speed of 137 mph.

Following the lead of the coupe, the 300 SL roadster proved to be just as popular with the well-to-do as its predecessor. Ownership of a 300 SL implied an exquisite taste in engineering and aesthetics, and it was the ultimate automotive statement. Naturally, many found homes in the garages of celebrities, racing drivers, and other successful individuals with an appreciation for fine automobiles. At an $11,000 list price, it was worth every penny.

CHASSIS NUMBER 198.042.8500154

According to its Mercedes-Benz build sheet, a copy of which is on file, chassis number 198.042.8500154 was originally ordered through the U.K. distributor in London, England, finished in a dramatic combination of Light Blue (DB 334) with Red leather interior. Owned in the U.K. as late as 1981, it later made its way to the United States, where it was acquired by Arizona resident John Wenaas and subsequently by communications entrepreneur and renowned collector Jim Rogers of Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr. Rogers had the car re-trimmed in white leather with whitewall tires, and it became known among roadster cognoscenti as “Liberace,” for obvious reasons! It remained a favorite within the Rogers Collection for several years.

In 2013, the car underwent mechanical work by the famed Richardson Restoration and Machine Werks in Phoenix, Arizona. Engine work included a new gasket valve over, intake and exhaust guides, and new cam bearings. More recently, the car received a sympathetic cosmetic restoration by the famed West Coast 300 SL restoration facility Rudi & Company of British Columbia. As part of the complete restoration, its color scheme was changed to the more subtle Anthracite with Grey interior, which is a rare combination and very desirable in 300 SL roadster circles, and it received all-new chrome and glass in addition to its new interior and bare-metal repaint. The car retains its original U.S.-specification sealed-beam headlights, windshield washers, and Becker Mexico radio with automatic antenna and dual speakers, all of which are mentioned on the build sheet, as well as an optional Talbot mirror on the driver’s side.

An attractive and elegant 300 SL roadster, with interesting history and in one of the best imaginable liveries, this car would take pride of place in any collection of modern sports cars. It is certain to be as thrilling to drive as it is to look at!

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

+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

+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

+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 9... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

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

Don Rose

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Jonathan Sierakowski

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Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... read more

Kurt Forry

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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

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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

+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

+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

+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

+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

+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. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

+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

+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

+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