Lot 236

Monterey 2023

1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster


$1,462,500 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



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  • Attractive and wonderfully restored disc-brake Roadster presented in its original specification
  • Finished in its factory-correct color combination of Medium Blue over red leather
  • Approximately the 52nd disc brake Roadster produced; delivered new to Germany
  • Retains its numbers-matching engine, body, kingpins, and steering box; accompanied by hardtop
  • Comprehensively restored between 2012 and 2014 by D.L. George Historic Motorcars

At the 1957 Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz introduced a convertible version of their celebrated 300 SL "Gullwing” Coupe. The new 300 SL Roadster was above all a more refined car than its winged predecessor, and its premiere foreshadowed the increasing focus which the manufacturer would place on luxury cars over the ensuing decades. There was no denying the 300 SL's mechanical performance, which had decidedly improved in the Roadster; the updated six-cylinder engine received the competition camshaft used in the NSL racing coupes, good for a lift of 20 horsepower.

Handling also benefited from a revised rear suspension with a lower axle pivot-point, minimizing the 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 convertible soft top, the model was never subject to the uncomfortably hot cabin issues that bedeviled 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.

The new 300 SL Roadster 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 collectable models, a darling of both concours fields and vintage rallies.

This magnificent Roadster dates from 1961—a highly desirable year for 300 SL production, as it saw the introduction of Dunlop four-wheel disc brakes (beginning with chassis 002780). One of just 250 Roadsters produced that year, and approximately just the 52nd to receive the disc brake upgrade at the factory, chassis 02831 was initially ordered by a Mercedes-Benz dealer in Munich. It left the marque’s Sindelfingen factory clad in Medium Blue (DB 350) over red leather (1088) beneath a black fabric soft top—precisely the same color combination which it still wears today. Also present in the car’s original specifications were a matching hardtop, seat belts, Becker Radio, and Dunlop tires.

After passing through owners in Munich and then Ostfildern over the ensuing decades, by 1990 this 300 SL Roadster had been acquired by a Japanese collector. Shortly after entering their stable, 002831 was put up in climate-controlled storage in anticipation of an eminent restoration. As is so common in the world of classic automobiles, the owner’s restoration plans never fully materialized, and so in late 2011 this car was acquired by the consignor in a highly original state.

Upon arrival stateside, the consignor immediately turned over this Roadster to the noted specialists at D.L. George Historic Motorcars in Cochranville, Pennsylvania for execution of a complete and total restoration, with a special focus paid to “retain and rebuild” as many of the car’s original components, wherever possible. In fact, a sizeable portion of the car’s original red leather upholstery has been retained, and it must be said that this decision has endowed the car’s cabin with a rich and beautiful patina and texture to the leather and interior that is impossible to replicate.

An exhaustive set of restoration invoices and progress photos (on file) totaling nearly a half-million dollars exhibit a fastidious attention to detail, while parts lists culled from the inventories of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center and other 300 SL model specialists, including Niemöller, and Art Thumwood, show that only OEM components were used throughout. It is important to note that the car presently retains its numbers-matching engine and body, as listed on its accompanying data card. The factory hardtop which accompanies the sale is believed to have followed the car since new.

Since emerging from D.L. George’s purview in May 2014, 02831 has been greatly enjoyed on a tremendous variety of driving excursions and continually maintained by the consignor’s team of in-house technicians. Notwithstanding routine maintenance items, since 2016 these technicians have treated this handsome Roadster to rebuilds of its ignition distributor and entire complement of Dunlop brake caliper cylinders, as well as additional insulation to the passenger cabin, a full set of new brake rotors, and a Micronic air filter conversion kit.

Boasting wonderful performance and reliable enough to be enjoyed daily, the 300 SL Roadster is an enthusiast favorite for vintage rallies, long-distance touring, or even use as a regular driver at one’s summer home. A well-restored example is a requisite in any collection, and this handsome disc-brake example, presented in its factory-correct color combination, certainly will not disappoint.