Lot 226

Miami 2024

1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

United States Flag | Coral Gables, Florida

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Chassis No.
198.042.10.003135
Engine No.
198.982.10.000100
Gearbox No.
003414
Body No.
198.042.10.000147
Documents
German Fahrzeugbrief
To be offered on Saturday, 2 March 2024
  • Stunning late-production example featuring factory disc brakes and alloy engine block
  • Treated in 2023 to over $250,000 in fresh sorting by Coachwerks Restoration of Victoria, British Columbia
  • Engine rebuilt in 2017 by Mercedes-Benz Classic Center of Stuttgart, Germany
  • Retains its numbers-matching chassis, body, engine, gearbox, rear axle, steering box, and front axles
  • Delivered new in Fire Red over black leather trim; now sports a highly attractive “triple-black” livery
  • Accompanied by an assortment of owner’s manuals, copy of its factory data card, restoration invoices, and history file dating to 1974
Addendum: Please note that an import duty of 2.5% of the purchase price is payable on this lot if the buyer is a resident of the United States.

At the 1957 Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz introduced a convertible version of their celebrated 300 SL "Gullwing” Coupe. The new 300 SL Roadster was, above all, a more refined car than its older sibling, and its premiere foreshadowed the increasing focus which the manufacturer would place on luxury cars over the follwing decades. There was no denying the 300 SL's mechanical performance, which had decidedly improved in the Roadster; the updated six-cylinder engine received the competition camshaft used in the NSL racing coupes, good for a lift of 20 horsepower.

Handling also benefited from a revised rear suspension with a lower axle pivot-point, minimizing the tendency for oversteer. Despite the added weight of chassis reinforcement required by an open model, the roadster was every bit the performance car that the Gullwing had proven itself to be. The roadster's overwhelmingly luxurious character, however, generally obscured its performance capabilities. With a convertible soft top, the model was never subject to the uncomfortably hot cabin issues that bedeviled the Gullwing, and the roadster's redesigned tube frame afforded lower door sills, facilitating a far more dignified ingress and egress than its winged predecessor.

In 1961, Mercedes-Benz further improved upon their masterpiece with the implementation of standard four-wheel disc brakes, vastly improving the 300 SL Roadster’s stopping capabilities and bringing the model in line with its contemporary high-performance rivals. The following year, an aluminum alloy engine block further enhanced performance in offsetting some of the weight gain necessitated by the Roadster’s open design. Just over 200 Roadsters were reportedly factory-equipped with both disc brakes and alloy engine blocks, making these cars the apex of 300 SL development and rightly coveted by enthusiasts today.

As documented by a copy of its factory data card, this disc brake, alloy-block Roadster was completed 30 August 1962 finished in Fire Red (DB 534) over a black leather interior and destined for sale to the United States. After arriving in America, the car is believed to have enjoyed only a handful of private owners through 1974, when it was acquired by Gull Wing Group member Pedro Garcia of Georgia, who then cherished it for the better part of the next four decades. A wonderful history file dating from his acquisition in 1974 testifies to the fastidious care, and sparing use, the car experienced during Garcia’s ownership. Of particular note is a March 1983 invoice from Gullwing Service Company, Inc. of Topsfield, Massachusetts. Upon bringing the car in for engine service, the mechanics were so taken with the car’s level of preservation that they photographed various areas of originality for future reference.

After parting with Garcia in 2011, the car passed to the esteemed 300 SL specialists at HK Engineering of Polling, Germany who were equally impressed with the car’s presentation, reportedly describing it as among “the most original they had ever seen.” HK Engineering then sold the car to respected enthusiast and former TAG Heuer chairman, Jean-Claude Biver. Following Monsieur Biver, the car passed through a series of caretakers including one who, in 2017, commissioned a full engine rebuild by Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Stuttgart, Germany.

Returning to the United States in 2020, the Roadster underwent a full inspection and mechanical review by the eight-time Pebble Beach winning firm, RM Auto Restoration of Chatham, Ontario, which found the car to run and drive excellently. RM further confirmed all stamped components to be the numbers-matching units per copies of the factory data card. These include the numbers-matching chassis, body, engine, gearbox, rear axle, steering box, and both front axles.

Following RM’s inspection, the car was entrusted to the world renowned 300 SL gurus at Coachwerks Restoration of Victoria, British Columbia, for what would become a multi-year, bare-metal refinishing. Here the Roadster continued to impress. Upon stripping the car to bare metal, the artisans at Coachwerks found its body to be among the finest they had ever seen, requiring minimal preparation and retaining its factory metalwork.

In place of its original Fire Red, the car was refinished in a striking triple-black livery featuring a new black soft top and an all-new black leather interior replete with an imposing black steering wheel. Great care was taken in assembling the car to factory standards with notable work including all new transmission seals, a new clutch, and annual engine service, along with a concours-level detailing of the undercarriage, motor, and engine bay. Accompanying invoices, totaling over $250,000, testify to the quality of care this car has received over the past year. In addition to a copy of its data card, period service invoices, and Coachwerks Restoration invoices, an assortment of 300 SL Roadster ownership manuals complete the sale.

Hailed as one of the greatest open sportscars of all time, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster stands as a testament to one of motoring’s most glamorous periods. Boasting wonderful performance and reliable enough to be enjoyed daily, the 300 SL Roadster is an enthusiast favorite for vintage rallies, long-distance touring, or even regular use at one’s summer home. With a well-restored example being a requisite of any serious collection, this handsome Roadster, highly documented and wearing an ultimate color combination, is certain to impress its next curator.