New York - ICONS | Lot 126
1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
$1,407,500 USD | Sold
| New York, New York
6 December 2017
- The last complete restoration to leave Rudi & Company’s renowned Victoria, BC, workshop
- Outfitted from new with several unique features
- Original matching chassis, body, engine, and drivetrain
- An exceptional 300 SL Roadster in every respect
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL captivated the world upon its release. The brainchild of U.S. distributor Max Hoffman, the stunning sports car enthralled the motoring press and general public alike with its breathtaking looks, state-of-the-art engineering, and world-beating performance. Though its price nearly equaled the cost of a new house, it did not put off those who were well heeled enough to write a check and wanted one in their garage. Voluptuous from every angle, 300 SLs found homes with some of the wealthiest and most glamorous people of the time, including Tony Curtis, Clark Gable, the Shah of Iran, Porfirio Rubirosa, Sophia Loren, and the King of Jordan.
There was seemingly nothing the 300 SL couldn’t do, nowhere it wouldn’t attract attention, and certainly no car it couldn’t outrun. In the minds of many, the only thing that could be done to improve upon the 300 SL was to make a convertible version, and that is just what Mercedes-Benz did. Keeping the same elegance and performance of the coupe, the roadster offered a handful of subtle upgrades over its gull-winged sibling, meaning wealthy customers could still lay claim to owning what was then the most desirable road car ever built.
As per factory build records, this roadster left the factory on 10 January 1958, as a U.S.-specification model finished in Silver Grey Metallic (DB 180) over a Red leather interior (1079). Furthermore, the car was fitted with a few peculiar options outside of the standard offering, likely to accommodate a very tall original owner who planned on putting a lot of miles on his new 300 SL! This included fitting both the driver and passenger seats 2.5 centimeters lower than normal, extending the steering column, fitting special wiring and circuits for additional fog lamps, and adding an extra reverse light to the car.
Due to its unique specification and a notation on its build sheet, it is believed that the car was delivered in Germany rather than being shipped straight to the U.S. The name “Lt. Browder” is noted on the factory records, along with Kaiserslautern, a city in southwest Germany not far from Mannheim and the French border. Kaiserslautern was subject to Allied bombing during the Second World War, and economic growth afterwards was slow until 1952 when a garrison for U.S. troops brought new life to the city. It is believed Lieutenant Browder was stationed here and ordered his 300 SL roadster directly through Mercedes-Benz, which explains the special features and delivery notation. It is thought he kept the car while stationed in Germany before returning to the U.S., along with his 300 SL.
As per the Gull Wing Group’s 300 SL Roadster Registry, the roadster changed hands in 1970 when it was purchased by Erich Vogl of Clawson, Michigan. After Vogl’s ownership, the car moved south to Nashville, Tennessee, where it was purchased by Ronald Voss. It is believed it was restored in his ownership and repainted black and given red upholstery in the late 1980s or early 1990s before then passing to Tom McCarthy of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
The car was then purchased by Roderick Taylor and his wife Carolyn of Morris, Connecticut. No stranger to 300 SLs, Mr. Taylor was an avid member of the Gull Wing Group, having owned three Gullwings in addition to this roadster and a 190 SL. He owned the car for a handful of years before he decided to embark on his own restoration; unfortunately, he passed away before any serious progress was made. By this point, the car had been fully stripped and disassembled, with every part carefully labeled and stored. Carolyn Taylor sold the car to its current custodians in 2014; they collected the 300 SL in Connecticut and shipped it across the continent to begin its restoration in earnest.
The car was entrusted to renowned 300 SL specialist Rudi Koniczek at Rudi & Company in Victoria, BC, Canada. There, it was stripped to bare metal and found to be in excellent condition. It received all-new rubber, European-specification headlights, new taillight lenses, and all-new glass while the original trim was rechromed to show quality. Furthermore, it is important to note it was confirmed the roadster retained its original chassis, engine, body, transmission, front axle, and rear differential during the restoration. The original engine and gearbox were fully rebuilt, utilizing only factory-correct components supplied from Mercedes-Benz Classic. Refinished in its original colors, the car was test-driven for 300 miles and given an additional service afterwards to ensure it ran and drove as new. Finally, the car is accompanied by a Becker Mexico radio, tool roll, tire iron and jack, a set of soft-top head guards, and a set of fitted luggage in 1079 red leather by Taris Charysyn.
To many, the 300 SL Roadster is the quintessential classic Mercedes-Benz. Offering world-beating performance at a price only accessible to the world’s most discerning clients, its gorgeous design hasn’t aged a day since it was first introduced. This exceptional example checks all the proverbial boxes: it retains all of its major original mechanical components, was delivered in gorgeous colors, and restored to perfection by a well-known marque expert with well over one hundred 300 SL restorations to his name. Rudi has since hung up his hat, having passed the business on to his employees under the patronage of the GAIN Group in Victoria, BC. This is the very last 300 SL Roadster to leave his workshop. It would leave even the most demanding of connoisseurs wanting for nothing.