Lot 363

Monterey 2023

1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster


$1,270,000 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
Engine No.
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US Title
  • Excellent restoration in wonderful, elegant colors
  • Interesting known ownership history
  • Retains numbers-matching engine and gearbox
  • Accompanied by books, tools, and fitted luggage
  • One of the most appealing Roadsters available; ideal for road or show
Addendum: Please note that this lot is not accompanied by a tool roll.


The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL is widely and justly regarded as one of the greatest sports cars of the 20th Century, unparalleled for its success on both road and track, and for desirability that has never waned in over six decades.

Following the initial success of the original coupe, with its famed and distinctive “gullwing” doors, the manufacturer introduced an open roadster model. A redesign of the coupe’s tubular frame allowed for the fitment of conventional doors, improving the ease of ingress and egress while also permitting the installation of conventional wind-up windows. The Gullwing’s high-pivot swing-axle was discarded in favor of low-pivot swing-axle rear suspension, utilizing a coil spring mounted transversely above the differential and linked to the axles by vertical struts, minimizing oversteer. This redesign of the frame and suspension also facilitated the installation of softer coil springs, providing a more comfortable ride without compromising handling. Under the hood, the famed inline six-cylinder engine was now standard-equipped with the NSL “sport” camshaft that had been so effective in the alloy-bodied Gullwings, boosting horsepower by 25.

Much of the push to introduce an open 300 SL had come from the powerful American Mercedes-Benz dealer, Max Hoffman, known for his uncanny ability to judge what his customers wanted—which was usually a faster open model of whatever he was currently selling. Unsurprisingly many of the 300 SL Roadsters were shipped new to the United States, where, as Hoffman had predicted, they enjoyed great success with both celebrities and simply the wealthy sporting crowd. Most of these cars remain in good running condition and are regularly enjoyed by their owners, as one of the most popular vehicles in modern road tours and rallies the world over. Few cars of their era are so fast and evocative, yet so comfortable and easy to drive.

Simply put, everyone who owns an open 300 SL loves it, and it takes only experiencing a great example to understand why.


This outstanding 300 SL Roadster is recorded on its Mercedes-Benz Classic Center Certificate, included in the file, as having been born with its present chassis, engine, and coachwork, with the distributor noted as Daimler-Benz’s North American offices at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Originally finished in code 534 Fire Brigade Red with 1060 Cream leather and 702 Beige top, it was completed to the North American specifications with sealed-beam headlights, and equipped with a Becker Mexico radio, 3.89 rear axle ratio, and Firestone Phoenix tires.

The history file accompanying this 300 SL indicates that the original owner was likely Milton Sheftel of Allentown, Pennsylvania, also the earliest known caretaker recorded in the Gull Wing Group Roadster Registry. A World War II B-29 crew chief who had returned to take over his family’s prominent Lehigh County textile business, Mr. Sheftel later sold the roadster in late 1975 to Des Crain of New Orleans, Louisiana who remained its owner until 2002. An advertisement for the car he ran that year in the Gull Wing Group Newsletter notes “acquired from the original owner in 1975.” The history file includes a collection of service receipts from Mr. Crain’s many years of ownership, testifying to his good care of the 300 SL throughout his tenure.

The Registry notes that by 2005 the 300 SL it had been refinished to its present, more subtle and extremely attractive livery of code 274 Light Green Metallic with 1073 Dark Green leather interior, Dark Green soft top, and chromed wheels, and outfitted with luggage and dual mirrors. Much of this work was completed in the ownership of Horst Tempel, a 300 SL specialist in San Diego, California who acquired the car from Crain. An impressive binder of receipts for the work is on file, covering both the cosmetic restoration and mechanical work, including an engine rebuild by noted specialists Marx Mercedes and fitment of a Grundig AM/FM radio.

The car was then purchased by the current owner, a longtime devotee of Mercedes-Benz, in 2017. Today the 300 SL remains in excellent overall condition from stem to stern, with the paintwork and upholstery both in beautiful order, and the chrome still sparkling. Significantly, inspection and comparison with the data card copy on file shows that the car retains its numbers-matching chassis and engine, with both the stampings and original tags still present, as well as the numbers-matching gearbox, rear axle, and steering box.

In May of 2022 the car received mechanical service by marque specialist Jim Cosgrove’s OldTimer Restoration Center in Harvard, Massachusetts, including installation of new points, spark plugs, distributor cap, and rotor, rebuilding of the brakes, and a change of rear end and transmission fluids, invoices for which are on file. Accompanying are both original and reproduction owner’s manuals, a power brake manual, and a Bosch fuel injection manual in an original folio, as well as the aforementioned history file, data card copy, fitted luggage, tool set, and spare key—all the accoutrements one would expect from a fine 300 SL.

An absolutely splendid, well-documented, and immaculate automobile, this would be an ideal 300 SL Roadster for driving enjoyment in any number of national and international tours and rallies this autumn, and in the years to come. Then as now, it is one of the world’s greatest roadgoing automobiles, and one of the most exciting convertibles imaginable—just as its creators intended it to be.