1962 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

Sold For $836,000

Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.

RM | Sotheby's - ARIZONA 18 JANUARY 2013

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Please note that while titled as a 1963, this car was actually produced for the 1962 model year.

225 bhp (DIN), 240 bhp (SAE), 2,996 cc overhead-cam inline six-cylinder engine, Bosch mechanical fuel-injection, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with upper and lower A-arms and coil springs, independent rear suspension with coil springs and swing axles, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.

• A three-owner Oklahoma car from new, with original engine

• Desirable later 300SL Roadster with disc brakes and factory hardtop

• Believed 47,000 actual miles

As the original Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing” Coupe exited stage left in 1957, its successor, the 300SL Roadster, debuted at that year’s Geneva Salon. The conversion of the 300SL to an open car meant dispensing with the famous upward-opening doors and redesigning the chassis, which was strengthened to compensate for the loss of the roof structure. Headlamps were changed, the grille was smaller, and a chrome molding was added below the doors. Because the beefier new chassis was heavier than the original, the famous twin-cam six-cylinder engine was given a new camshaft and higher compression, which resulted in an addition of 20 horsepower. Revised rear suspension now boasted a compensating spring, added to reduce the over-steering tendencies of the single-jointed swing-axle arrangement.

No doubt to the delight of those who had known and loved the previous SL, the 300SL Roadster remained among the fastest cars on the road, capable of 133 to 155 mph depending upon the final drive ratio selected. Production continued into early-1963, and with 1,858 built, the Roadster proved even more popular than its “Gullwing” predecessor, while still remaining exclusive enough to be rarely seen. Truly “the car to own” among those successful enough to acquire it, at the turn of the 1960s, the 300SL Roadster was seen wherever moneyed motorists drove quickly.

One of those areas was Oklahoma City, the original stomping grounds of the 300SL Roadster offered here. Original owner Breene Kerr bought it at the last moment and at the most opportune time, as 1963 was the final year of 300SL production. By this time, the cars had reached their ultimate specification, with factory-installed four-wheel disc brakes that immensely improved their stopping power. Only 191 Roadsters were built in this final year, including the Oklahoma car.

A good 300SL is often a long-term possession, and so it was for Kerr’s car. It eventually passed, nonetheless, back to the Oklahoma City dealer and on to Marshall Weir, who retained ownership until the present owner acquired the 300SL three years ago. Interestingly, all three owners have resided in the Oklahoma City area, and as a result, this 300SL has spent its entire life in the area where it was delivered new.

The 300SL is today very much as it was in 1963, including its breathtaking red finish with tan leather upholstery, and it is equipped with a removable hardtop, a much-desired option that makes it ideal for all-weather driving. Unlike many convertibles of its generation, the 300SL’s hardtop flatters the lines of the car, appearing to be “designed in,” rather than to have been dropped on as an afterthought.

Having always enjoyed the wonderfully warm and dry Sooner State climate, ideal for convertible driving and convertible care, this 300SL has been wonderfully preserved. Over the years, it has undergone a sympathetic restoration, including new paint and interior, as well as regular maintenance performed by professionals, including the Mercedes-Benz dealer in Oklahoma City, as attested to by documentation that accompanies the car. Incredibly, the car’s three owners must have resisted a terrible urge to drive the car constantly, as it has covered only 47,000 careful miles, which are believed to be the actual mileage since new!

With its low miles, well-maintained mechanical condition, and lifelong care by enthusiasts, this 300SL Roadster remains as much a pleasure to drive as it is to look at. It would need only a flat prairie road to feel at home again, or a twisting mountain path to be introduced to new adventures.

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