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1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe

  • USA
  • 2011-01-20
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215 bhp, 2,996 cc overhead cam fuel-injected inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension via wishbones and coil springs in front, and coil springs and swing axle rear suspension, and four-wheel vacuum assisted drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5"

- Superb restoration in stunning colors
- Desirable Rudge wheels and fitted luggage

As was the case with several of Europe’s most important sports cars, Porsche and Ferrari included, the importation of a road-going 300SL to the United States would not have been possible without Max Hoffman. In fact, in the case of the SL, Hoffman, who was appointed Mercedes-Benz importer for the US market in 1952, deserves much of the credit for the development of the production car. While attending a meeting of Daimler-Benz’s Board of Directors, he assured everyone in attendance of the salability of the current model lines but also expressed particular interest in a production version of the famed 300 SL racing car. Initial objections to the proposition were based on the belief that the SL’s development was carried out very quickly to meet Mercedes’ reentry into sports car racing. Thankfully, the determined Hoffman prevailed, leaving Germany with an order for 1,000 SLs, half of which became the more affordable 190 variant.

Subsequent months of engineering, refinement and testing produced a car of outstanding performance, class and presence. Introduced in 1954 to thrilled crowds in New York, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL was essentially a supercar with a price tag well in excess of $7,000! Its popular success in the United States was undoubtedly due to the burgeoning American fascination with smaller, nimble European sports cars – an interest expressed by many GIs returning from World War II.

Additionally, the 300SL capitalized on the company’s racing successes and benefited from the technological advancements available therein. 300, of course, represented the engine’s displacement of three liters, while SL denoted sport leicht (sport light). Initially introduced as a coupe, the legendary sports car was conceived as a high-performance street machine with a thinly veiled racing character. The gullwing doors became the car’s visual signature and solved the cabin-entry problems posed by the car’s light tubular frame. Additional styling cues included bulges over the wheel openings, two longitudinal hood bulges and distinctive egg crate-like grillwork on both front fenders, which alleviated excessive heat and noise inside the car. Aluminum was used extensively for the bodywork, particularly for the doors, hood, trunk lid and interior sheet metal. The rest of the car utilized steel bodywork, although 29 examples are known to have been produced with all-aluminum bodies.

Compared to competitive sports cars of its time, the 300SL developed an immediate reputation, not only for performance, but for exceptional build quality as well. Whereas comparable sports cars featured carburetors, solid rear axles and pushrod engines, the 300SL offered Bosch fuel injection, independent rear suspension and an overhead camshaft. The six-cylinder engine produced 215 brake horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque and was mated to a four-speed, fully synchronized transmission. Such figures translated into 0-to-60 times of approximately eight seconds – a truly impressive feat in the mid-1950s.

The stunning 300SL Coupe offered here was shipped on August 26th, 1955. Finished in white with blue leather, it was a special order destined for New York City. Earlier owners are not known, but according to the Gullwing Register, the first recorded owner was Roger Bryant of Palo Alto, California. The second owner was R.J. Hansel of Burlingame, California, followed by Robert James Hoffman of San Francisco, California and James G. Metternich of Napa, California. The next recorded owner was Roy Powell of Scottsdale, Arizona, and the vendor purchased the car from him.

The car has benefited from a comprehensive, professional restoration conducted to the highest standards. Since its acquisition by its current owner, it has remained in climate-controlled storage, properly maintained and cared for, although rarely, if ever, seeing road use. The graphite grey paint and brightwork appear to be outstanding and indicative of professional workmanship. The interior is likewise pristine and as-new, upholstered in red leather. The odometer shows less than 29,000 kilometers. The engine bay is commensurate with the balance of the car – show quality through and through. Notable features on this spectacular 300SL include a highly desirable set of Rudge wheels and a matching set of fitted luggage.

All told, just 867 300SL Coupes were built in 1955, and fewer still remain today. It is difficult now to imagine the significant advance represented by the 300SL in its day. Not only did it offer considerable technological advancement and trendsetting design, but the long hood concealed a powerful overhead cam six-cylinder engine with Bosch fuel injection capable of top speeds in excess of 130 miles per hour. The example presented here benefits from this glorious heritage and is beautifully restored and presented. Addendum Please note this Gullwing was professionally restored about five years ago. The restorer has informed us that the cost of this meticulous restoration approached $300,000.

Chassis no. 1980405500601

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* Nota: este precio no se corresponde con el valor actual sino al precio que se vendió en el momento de la compra.