Lot 135

Arizona 2024

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing


$1,500,000 - $1,700,000 USD | Not Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona



Chassis No.
Engine No.
Gearbox No.
Body No.
US Title
  • Offered from single ownership since 1978
  • Equipped with the sought-after Rudge wheels
  • Charming presentation throughout
  • Ideal for further freshening or as the basis for restoration to its original color scheme
  • Accompanied by a copy of its original data card
Please note that this lot is titled as a 1956.

One of the most groundbreaking automobiles of its generation, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing was a tour de force combination of space-age engineering, incredible performance, and world-beating pedigree, which earned its Works-prepared variants convincing victories at many of the world’s premiere sportscar races from 1952 through 1956.

In the years leading up to the 1954 unveiling of the production-spec 300 SL, labeled W198, the famous German automaker honed the design with the W194, a competition-ready predecessor constructed in time for the 1952 racing season, which racked up impressive wins at events including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Carrera Panamericana. Many victories came as a result of fabled team drivers, including Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, and Hermann Lang.

The company looked to build upon this racing success with a version of the competition model that customers could drive on the road. In recognition of the United States as a critical market, the German marque launched the W198 at the 1954 International Motor Sports Show in New York, as the first Mercedes-Benz ever shown overseas before being revealed in its home country. Appropriately, more than 1,000 of the 1,400 super-leicht examples built from 1954 through 1957 were delivered by the famed American Mercedes-Benz distributor Max Hoffman, as the car gained popularity and “Gullwing fever” spread among the business tycoons, gentleman racers, and Hollywood celebrities of North America’s upper crust. Its calling card was and has always remained the amazing roof-hinged doors, necessitated by the innovative body construction with chassis structure and exhaust routed through the sills.

CHASSIS NUMBER 198.040.5500753

According to the Gull Wing Group Register, the example offered here was special-ordered through Max Hoffman’s New York salesrooms and shipped to the United States on 26 September 1955, finished in White (DB 50) with a Cream (1060) leather interior. Unusually, it was equipped with the highly desirable competition-style Rudge knock-off wheels, as more commonly found on the alloy-bodied 300 SLs, and which it notably retains today.

The car’s earliest known owner in the Register is recorded as Charles Warren of Oden, Michigan. It was next acquired by Erich Vogl of Clawson, apparently a 300 SL enthusiast as he also enjoyed a Roadster during this same time period. In 1978 Mr. Vogl offered his Gullwing at the annual Labor Day auction in Auburn, Indiana, where it was acquired by the current owner.

With the bemusement typical of longtime 300 SL connoisseurs, the owner recounted in a recent conversation that, at the time, he had also acquired a new home, and that his wife commented that she would rather have had new furniture for the house than a 300 SL. He drove the car for several years on occasion, recounting that he used it “mainly for pleasure, for family get-togethers, and other occasions,” before it largely was put away in his garage. Occasionally he would start it up and drive it around the block, ensuring that it would get brief exercise before being put away again.

The car was cosmetically refinished in its present combination, Silver Metallic over Red leather interior—a classic 300 SL livery—at some point prior to the present owner’s acquisition in 1978. Inspection shows that the restoration was likely limited to these cosmetic finishes, as the car retains its original chassis, engine, gearbox, and axles—with the proper numbers in the expected locations matching the build card—as well as the original tags. It is further fitted with a Becker Mexico radio. All five wheels are properly date-stamped “6/55,” while the tires on the car are the correct factory Michelins but may require replacement for extended driving.

A lovely 300 SL from studious and careful long-term ownership, this would be a wonderful example for further continued freshening, or as the basis for a concours-quality restoration in what would be an extremely striking and unusual original livery. It boasts wonderful provenance, including ownership by known enthusiasts and, since 1978, a gentleman who has never regretted choosing the 300 SL over new furniture. Who would?