Lot 134

New York - ICONS 2017

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing


$1,352,500 USD | Sold

United States | New York, New York



Chassis No.
Engine No.
Body No.
  • The sports car, eternally redefined as a status symbol
  • Well-documented restoration by Jerry Hjeltness
  • Becker Mexico radio, fitted luggage, tool roll, and belly pans
  • Retains its original engine
Please note that Internet bidding is not available for this lot. Interested parties that are unable to attend the sale may register to bid by telephone or place a commission bid online at rmsothebys.com.

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing was so many, many things: an engineering tour de force, a genuine racing car for the open road, and one of the world’s fastest automobiles of its era. What made it most memorable, however, was it was the first sports car to be a genuine, recognizable status symbol, just as a Tiffany diamond or Cartier watch instantly identifies its possessor as a person of wealth, means, and impeccable taste. Its appeal transcended traditional barriers between old and new money simply because everyone who saw one wanted one.

Clark Gable and Juan Peron; Sophia Loren and Pat Boone; the Aga Khan and Briggs Cunningham–whether you were born to royalty or had ascended to it on your own, the 300 SL was the must-have accessory of the mid-1950s. Throwing open one of the iconic gullwing doors meant more than arriving to the party; it meant that one had arrived in the world.

The Gullwing offered here was completed 5 August 1955 and shipped to the distributors in New York 20 days thereafter wearing its original color combination of Medium Blue (350) over Light Gray leather interior (955). It later made its way over the Atlantic to England, where it was offered for sale in June 1969 by R.B. Cole of Beckham, Kent, whose name appears in its entry in both the Eric LeMoine and Gull Wing Group Registers.

Subsequently the car made its way back to the United States and was acquired by Craig McFarland of Carmel, California, in 1989. Mr. McFarland commissioned the 300 SL’s restoration by the respected Jerry Hjeltness of Hjeltness Restorations in Escondido. The project would last the next two years, and remarkably detailed records of that work accompany the car to this day—listing everything down to the purchase of a new pair of coveralls for the painter!

The body was restored with proper leaded seams as original, preserving much of the original sheet metal with the exceptions of the rocker panels and repairs to the quarter panels. Fire Brigade Red—one of the most famous 300 SL colors—was chosen and carefully applied using long-lasting urethane finish. The engine was properly rebuilt and great attention was paid to returning all aspects of the car’s mechanical systems to their correct original condition.

Finalizing the restoration were the installation of a proper Becker Mexico radio and the creation of two pieces of correct fitted luggage by the Gullwing Service Company of Essex, Massachusetts, to original patterns in leather matching the new interior. Further, the car—which has been well preserved and maintained since completion of the work—is offered with correct tools and a tool bag acquired for the car during the restoration, as well as aluminum belly pans, a reproduction instruction manual for the model, and a copy of its factory data card.

A well-maintained, quality restoration in among the most instantly recognizable hues for the model, this Gullwing allows a new owner to join the rarefied ranks of 300 SL owners, past and present—a diverse club of trendsetters, heads of state, and captains of industry, united by one uniquely potent symbol of success.