- Benefits from stellar provenance, unique factory-provided specifications, and a fantastic, multi-year restoration
- A very late “disc brake, alloy block” example; the 18th-to-last 300 SL Roadster produced
- Special-ordered by furniture magnate Kurt Barnekow; remained with him for nearly 40 years
- Presented in its one-off color combination of Biscuit Yellow (DB 648) over Cognac leather (1505) upholstery
- Fitted in-period with a factory replacement engine; retains numbers-matching chassis, body, and rear axle
- Accompanied by fitted luggage, tool kit, an additional set of Biscuit Yellow hubcaps, FIVA identity card, and a comprehensive history file complete with copies of its factory documentation
THE APOGEE OF ROADSTER PRODUCTION
When Mercedes-Benz introduced their 300 SL Roadster in 1957, the new model addressed many of the perceived shortcomings of the outgoing 300 SL Gullwing Coupe. Primarily, a redesign of the Gullwing’s tube frame allowed for the use of conventional doors, which improved the ease of ingress and egress. This refinement also allowed for the implementation of standard wind-up windows, significantly improving cabin comfort.
Further, the unforgiving high-pivot swing-axle geometry of the Gullwing Coupe was discarded in favor of a low-pivot swing-axle rear suspension, which redressed concerns of oversteer at high-speeds. The frame and suspension redesign also facilitated the installation of softer coil springs, which provided the Roadsters with a more comfortable ride quality without compromising handling. The highly developed inline-six-cylinder engine was standard-equipped with the sport camshaft that had been so effective in the racing alloy-bodied coupes, thereby significantly increasing the new model’s horsepower.
In 1961, four-wheel disc brakes became standard equipment, improving the 300 SL Roadster’s stopping capabilities and thereby bringing the model in line with concurrent mechanical advancements at Ferrari. A year later, the engines were updated with aluminum alloy blocks, helping to minimize weight. Just 210 Roadsters were reportedly factory-equipped with disc brakes and alloy engine blocks, making these cars the apogee of 300 SL development—and a rarity in the bargain. This notion is best illustrated by the very late, and very special, 1963 300 SL Roadster offered here.
THE BARNEKOW ROADSTER
Significant in its rarity as the 18th-to-last Roadster completed in the final calendar year of production, and special-ordered with a plethora of unique factory-provided specifications, this remarkable 300 SL Roadster (chassis 003243) was the creation of German furniture magnate Kurt Barnekow. The founder of KUBAH, an innovative furniture retail chain during the 1950s that served the whole of Germany, Barnekow was a distinguished enthusiast of fine automobiles who kept a small, but particularly well-curated, stable at his home in Hamburg.
Though he certainly was captivated by the glamour and excitement which the super-leicht evoked, he was also convinced that his own example should truly be unrivaled amongst its brethren. Notable as he was, Barnekow himself was unlikely to outshine the truly famous, jet-setting personalities who also owned a 300 SL Roadster—movie stars, royalty, sportsmen, and racecar drivers—all fantastically wealthy, handsome, and charismatic.
But as to his car…his car would certainly draw a crowd, even as it rolled down the Sindelfingen assembly line, and later, down the tree-lined avenues of post-war Germany.
To this effect, Herr Barnekow submitted his special order to the local Mercedes-Benz branch on 8 January 1963, specifying the unique and sublime color combination of Biscuit Yellow (DB 648) over special-order Cognac leather (1505) (an upholstery color and texture not typically offered for the 300 SL). Additionally, it was to be furnished with both a black soft top and matching hardtop, passenger-side mirror, Bosch headlamps, automatic antenna, radio set, whitewall Phoenix tires, and color-keyed disc wheels with chrome hubs.
The Barnekow Roadster was delivered new to Hamburg on 7 February 1963, and this distinguished pairing of man and machine proved inseparable over the following four decades. Sometime in 1965, the car’s original aluminum engine block was evidently damaged and exchanged for a factory replacement; an important but scarcely seen “exchange tag” remains affixed to this engine, recording the serial number 341350. Notably, the factory tag indicates that this is a factory-sourced exchange unit, rather than an engine originally from another chassis.
Following Kurt’s passing in March 1998, the Barnekow Roadster was acquired in highly original but well-used condition by the noted Greek shipping tycoon and car collector Peter Livanos. By April 2005, the Barnekow Roadster had been granted its FIVA Identity Card and was registered to Livanos’ Gstaad address wearing the plate “AHN150A.” It was then prominently displayed later that same year at the 2005 edition of the famous, ultra-exclusive Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como, as well as the 2006 Gstaad Classic.
This remarkable 300 SL was then sold by Livanos to a fellow Swiss resident, the distinguished Mercedes-Benz collector Etienne Veen. He commissioned Pichler GFG AG of Gstaad (the Swiss Mercedes-Benz Classic Center) to perform an authentic restoration of the car to the highest concours standards. This comprehensive restoration work, carried out between 2008 and 2010, included a refinish in its distinctive, unique Biscuit Yellow paint over Cognac leather color scheme, complete with the correct black hardtop. The sole notable variation furnished by Pichler’s staff is the substitution of a dark brown cloth soft top in place of the original black one.
In 2014, following a return to Pichler for service work, Veen sold the Barnekow Roadster onwards. It briefly resided in the stable of two consecutive UK-based collectors before its acquisition by the current consignor.
To this day, the car remains notably correct and well-presented. Comparison of its present equipment against the units listed on the accompanying copy of its factory data card confirm that it retains its numbers-matching chassis, body, rear axle, and steering box. Further details of note regarding this final-specification special-order 300SL Roadster include a clever thermometer housed within the driver’s side wing mirror, along with a superb set of fitted suitcases trimmed in Cognac leather. Other desirable extras include a toll roll and jack, a set of Biscuit Yellow hubcaps (in addition to the black set fitted to the car), and black hardtop in crate. These items are, of course, supplemented by the car’s comprehensive history file.
Quite simply, the Barnekow Roadster is a compelling automobile that should be duly considered by any collector with a distinguished and refined curatorial sense. With stellar provenance, including 40 years of enjoyment by its original owner, a suite of special-ordered factory specifications, and all the latest factory upgrades furnished to the model during the twilight of its production run, this 300 SL Roadster boasts all of the sough-after qualities of a significant super-leicht.