1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
$700,000 - $800,000
RM | Sotheby's - AMELIA ISLAND 6 - 7 MARCH 2020 - Offered on Saturday
- A desirable early production 300 SL roadster
- Formerly of the Dr. Irwin Ginsberg collection
- Engine rebuilt under prior ownership
- Accompanied by copy of Mercedes-Benz data card
While the original Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” coupe was exiting stage left in 1957, its successor, the 300 SL roadster, was debuting at that year’s Geneva Salon. The conversion of the 300 SL to an open car meant redesigning the chassis, which was strengthened significantly to compensate for the loss of the roof structure. The headlamps were changed, the grille was made smaller, and a chrome molding was added below the doors. The famed racing-derived twin-cam, six-cylinder engine produced some 215 horsepower, and the revised rear suspension now boasted a compensating spring, which was added to reduce the oversteering tendencies of the Gullwing’s single-jointed swing axle arrangement.
Enthusiasts who may have worried about the 300 SL going “soft” had absolutely nothing to concern themselves about. The roadster remained among the fastest automobiles on the road, as it was capable of 155 mph, depending on the final drive ratio specified.
Production of the roadster continued until early 1963, and with 1,858 built, it proved even more popular than its gull-winged predecessor, yet it still remained exclusive enough among the well-to-do. Like the earlier coupe, it was, in its day, the car in which to see and be seen, and it was favored by celebrities, racing drivers, and just about anyone who appreciated fine machinery and who also had the bank account to acquire it. Today the 300 SL still carries with it an indelible aura of speed, power, and sophisticated style. It is fast enough for the sports-car lover yet comfortable enough for those who demand luxury, and it has remained for nearly 60 years as one of the most desirable automobiles in the world.
According to its Mercedes-Benz data card, the very early production roadster offered here, chassis number 7500397, was originally delivered finished in Blue (DB 334) with a Cream interior and was equipped with a 3.89:1 rear axle, U.S.-specification gauges and equipment, and without turn signals. An original U.S.-delivery model, its earliest known history can be tracked to Buffalo, New York. Among its owners in Buffalo was Dr. Irwin A. Ginsberg, a renowned otolaryngologist, oenophile, and passionate automobile collector known for his fine Classics that won awards all over the country, including Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1985.
The car was enjoyed by a succession of other owners in Florida, Ohio, California, and Michigan before joining a prominent private collection in California several years ago. The car’s prior owner had its engine, a replacement 1958 unit, rebuilt by the respected Mercedes-Benz authority Jim Cosgrove of Oldtimer Restoration Center in Harvard, Massachusetts, in addition to other mechanical work, including inspection of the rear axle and transmission. Under current ownership the car has been routinely serviced and enjoyed.
The 300 SL presents beautifully in Fire Engine Red with a black soft top, equipped with a driver’s-side Talbot-style mirror, and accented by color-matched wheels and factory hub caps. The interior is similarly well preserved and in excellent order, fitted with a dash clock and Becker Mexico radio. As a 1957 model, it would be a wonderful and ideal entrant for a wide variety of historic motoring events, including the California Mille, Colorado Grand, or Copperstate 1000.
The 300 SL roadster has become every bit as desirable as its famous Gullwing sibling; no enthusiast’s stable is complete without one. This early example, long treasured by its caretakers, would be an ideal acquisition for the lady or gentleman who thrills in the sport of driving.