Mercedes- Benz 300SL Roadster @ Bonhams Audrain Concours Auction

Mercedes- Benz 300SL Roadster @ Bonhams Audrain Concours Auction

1960 Mercedes- Benz 300SL Roadster  -  Estimate: US$1,200,000 - US$1,400,000 - to be sold without reserve

Chassis no. 198042.10.002689
Engine no. 198980.10.002740

"P" - Special formalities are required to bid on this lot. Contact Client Services at +1 (323) 850 7500 or at least 48 hours in advance of the auction for registration and bidding options.

2,996cc SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Bosch Mechanical Fuel Injection
225bhp at 5,800rpm
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Independent Suspension
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes

*Stunning presentation in DB172G Anthracite Metallic
*Chassis, Engine, and body numbers correspond to published records from the Gullwing Group
*Restored By Scott Melnik Auto Engineering from 1997-1999
*Freshened Black leather interior with ivory steering wheel
*One of the finest sports cars of all time


Any discussion of the greatest automobiles of all time must certainly include the spectacular Mercedes-Benz 300SL. Conceived initially as a purebred racing car, the 300SL "Gullwing" racked up victories across Europe and the Americas and captured the attention of one Max Hoffman, the official importer of Mercedes-Benz automobiles to the USA.

Faced with burgeoning demand from wealthy clients in the critical US market, the ever-compelling Hoffman managed to persuade the board of directors in Stuttgart to develop the 300SL for the road. Quite remarkably, the road car remained faithful to the original concept, retaining its complex tubular space frame chassis designed by Rudolph Uhlenhaut, which necessitated the signature "gullwing" doors – and birthing an icon in the process. Despite its eye-watering asking price of $11,000 in 1955, Mercedes-Benz shifted 1,400 Gullwing Coupes, making it a tremendous success.

But as sales waned, Hoffman again put himself at the apex of the project, analyzing feedback from American buyers and relaying it to the top brass in Germany. His instincts had proven consistently accurate, and the factory was happy to entertain Hoffman's ideas. Max suggested that a convertible would rejuvenate sales and that engineers should address some of the coupe's shortcomings. The resulting 300SL Roadster was much more than a Gullwing with the roof lopped off; it was thoroughly re-engineered and redesigned. The Gullwing's handling was acceptable at a moderate pace but became dangerously unpredictable near the limit. The roadster utilized a lower pivot point of the swing axle, which calmed the 300SL's penchant for snap oversteer. While the space frame chassis remained, it was heavily modified to accommodate traditional doors that made ingress much more civilized, particularly for beskirted occupants.

The production run of 1,858 300SL Roadsters through 1963 again demonstrated Max Hoffman's market prowess. While slightly heavier and softer than its coupe counterpart, the 300SL Roadster remains the driver's choice, and it is no wonder why roadster values have caught up to the Gullwing in recent years.


Chassis 002689 is a breathtaking example of the iconic 300SL Roadster, resplendent in Anthracite Metallic over a black leather interior. A long-term West Coast car, it spent considerable time in Portland, Oregon, and Southern California before joining the James Messenger Collection via noted 300SL expert Alex Finnegan. While in previous stewardship in the late 1990s, the car was restored to a high standard by marque specialist Scott Melnik of Calabasas, California, and appeared in select events in SoCal, including the 1999 Classics for Charity concours at Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills.

As part of the restoration, the SL's body was refinished in this gorgeous shade of Anthracite Metallic. Restored brightwork, chrome-finish wheels, and color-keyed wheel covers punctuate the beautiful paintwork. The convertible top and interior have more recently been retrimmed in black, accented by charcoal square weave carpeting offering a superb complement to the body color. Like the exterior, the cabin is restored to a high standard and displays very little in the way of use. Details include the correct ivory steering wheel and gear knob, a Becker Mexico Radio, lift-latch competition-style lap belts, and restored factory switchgear and instrumentation.

Arguably one of the finest engines of the era, the robust and powerful 2,996cc inline-six is an engineering masterpiece and is a sight to behold beneath the hood. Records compiled by the Gullwing Group show that this car retains its original, numbers-matching engine. Detailing is to a high standard, with authentic fittings, hardware, and labels reflective of a concours-quality restoration. A tool roll and factory jack accompany the sale. On a recent test drive, the car performed well, blasting through the hills of New England with gusto!

Whether cruising to your local dinner spot or tackling a challenging historic rally, few cars can reward the driver more than a 300SL roadster. This superlative example is prime for enjoyment in various events and will undoubtedly find pride of place in your collection.

Photo & Text courtesy of Bonhams

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