Amelia Island

The Ritz-Carlton
10 March 2012
Lot 147

1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

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$990,000 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida

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Chassis No.
198.042.10.002580
Engine No.
10.0002632

240 hp, 2,996 cc overhead cam six-cylinder engine, fuel injection, four-speed gearbox, four-wheel independent suspension and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5"

• Recent complete restoration by Rudi & Company

• Stunning color combination

• Concours or event ready

• Optional hardtop, tool roll and desirable Rudge wheels

The 300SL ‘Gullwing’ coupe was extraordinary in Mercedes-Benz history for a number of reasons, many related to the foresight and influence of the legendary Max Hoffman, Mercedes-Benz’s US importer in the ’50s. It was Hoffman who pushed the company to bring a street version of its sports racing coupe to market and, by guaranteeing to sell 1,000 of them, had it launched in New York City, the first time a Mercedes-Benz had ever been introduced outside Germany. Stateside sales proved Hoffman was right, and the car became a success on both the street and the track.

Hoffman saw even greater sales possibilities for an even more refined version of the coupe and saw to it that Mercedes created the 300SL roadster to replace the coupe in 1957. The 300SL roadster brought the best attributes of the Gullwing—its speed, handling prowess and solid build-quality—and carried them forward in a more practical package for everyday use. With the space frame chassis modified to provide deeper door openings for ease of entry and exit combined with the natural appeal to Americans of the open sports car, it was at once the car for both the sporting enthusiast and the boulevardier to embrace.

Slight styling changes distinguished the roadster from the coupe, including larger fenders, new headlights, a smaller grille opening and a chrome trim strip which now adorned the side sill. That they were closely related however remained obvious. Despite a weight penalty due to the chassis strengthening needed to compensate for the loss of the roof and the larger door openings, the roadster’s performance was maintained with an improvement in horsepower and increased compression ratio. While the roadster also cut a more turbulent path through the air than the Gullwing, it nevertheless was capable of nearly 155 mph depending on the final gear ratios chosen, making it one of the world’s fastest road cars.

Regardless of the performance capability, the 300SL roadster presented here is all the more desirable for its impressive appearance. Delivered new to one J.A. Redmond of Bon Air, Virginia, it is now offered from a prominent private collection. The engine number 10.0002632 matches that of the original engine listing, as found in the Roadster Register of the Gull Wing Group International. Stunning in gleaming Mercedes-Benz paint code DB40 Black complemented by the rich green leather interior, color code 1078, this SL exudes elegance, drama and beauty. Famed Mercedes-Benz specialists Rudi & Company of Victoria, British Columbia have given this car a complete restoration to world-class standards. The highest level of detail preparation of the bare metal prior to expert painting and careful finishing would be expected. But when combined with a commitment to detail such as all-new rubber, new lenses, all-new glass, show-quality chrome plating of the original trim, overhauling the door, trunk and glove box locks and correctly refinishing each of the tools in the new matching leather tool roll, it becomes clear that this is no quick and easy refurbishment.

Taking a look inside reveals the seats, cushions and door panels, all rebuilt prior to receiving the correct German Roser leather covering. A new steering wheel and horn button were fitted, and the specified carpet weave was used on the floor inside and in the trunk, while the headliner in the rebuilt hardtop is as factory-supplied.

Not all the quality and quantity of the work done are apparent at first glance. Based on information provided by Rudi & Company, the mechanical side of the restoration was as thorough as that of the cosmetic. Highlights include the balancing of all internal moving parts in the engine, with new pistons, valves, guides, timing chain, timing gears as needed, complete gearbox overhaul, rebuilding and balancing of the driveshaft, overhauled fuel injectors and injection pump, re-cored radiator and oil cooler, new motor mounts, new brakes, shock absorbers, steering damper, transmission mount, sway bar rubbers and links and bushings and seals in the front axle.

Every part used is factory-correct, supplied from Mercedes-Benz Classic, and the completed car was tested for 300 miles and given an initial service with the head re-torqued, valves adjusted, all fluids changed and any sorting done as required. Following the road test and service, this 300SL was then given a final wet sand, full polish and detail.

Both black soft and hard tops come with the SL, and it has also been fitted with a set of the attractive and desirable Rudge knock off wheels. The standard steel wheels will also be supplied with the car should the new owner desire to go back to original specification. Mileage indicated currently stands at approximately 85,350 miles, which are believed to be original to the car. A recent road test by an RM Specialist confirmed that the car ran and drove fantastically. It started easily, accelerated nicely and shifted through the gears very well, all of which confirmed the high caliber of restoration work.

The Mercedes-Benz 300SL is acknowledged as one of the true ‘blue-chip’ collectibles in the automotive world. Its potent blend of historical importance, advanced design, engineering integrity and dramatic looks has guaranteed its desirability from the day it was introduced. That these cars are amazing to drive is also not a small part of their appeal. The toughest decision the next owner of this 300SL roadster will make is whether to spend hours looking at its beauty while parked or hours on the road behind the wheel, letting the rest of us enjoy it as well.