1957 MERCEDES-BENZ 300 SL ROADSTER
Extremely Rare as One of Fewer than 30 Factory Rudge-Wheel Roadsters
Remarkably Original Example – Believed by Consignor to Retain Original Paint, Interior, Soft Top, and Floor Mats
Just Three Owners from New; Retained by Its Second Owner for 54 Years
Meticulous Mechanical Restoration Undertaken by 300 SL Specialists HK Engineering
Retains Matching-Numbers Engine, Body, Chassis, Steering Box, Rear End, and Front Axles per Copy of Mercedes-Benz Data Card
Accompanied by Original Hepco Fitted Luggage, Manuals, Jack, Tool Kit, Second Set of Date-Stamped Rudge Wheels, Spare Injection Pump, and Rare Factory Onboard Parts Kit
One of the Finest and Most Fascinating 300 SLs Gooding & Company Has Ever Offered
2,996 CC SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Bosch Mechanical Fuel Injection
240 BHP at 6,200 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes
Front Independent Double-Wishbone Suspension with Coil Springs
Rear Swing-Axle Suspension with Coil Springs
In March 1957, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the 300 SL Roadster, employing a host of mechanical advancements and stylistic revisions to create a new, open version of the successful Gullwing. Chief among these were a new rear-axle design that improved high-speed handling and a modified space-frame chassis, which allowed for conventionally hinged doors. The Roadster offered easier ingress, roll-up windows, a useful trunk, and the thrill of high-performance, open-air motoring. In total, Mercedes-Benz built 1,858 examples of the 300 SL Roadster, steadily updating the model until production ceased in 1963.
According to a copy of its factory data card, this exquisite 300 SL Roadster, chassis 198.042.7500348, was originally delivered via Mercedes-Benz Distributors Western Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia in 1957. It was finished in DB 180 Silbergrau Metallic (Silver-Grey Metallic) with a 1079 Rot (Red leather) interior and an 872 Schwarz (Black) top. Further specifications included the fitment of English-language instrumentation, sealed beam headlights, a 3.89:1 rear axle ratio, Becker Mexico radio, a luggage set, and, most notably, Rudge knock-off wheels. These sporting and highly sought-after wheels, far more frequently seen on Gullwings, were available on the Roadster early in its production run. Fewer than 30 300 SL Roadsters produced were equipped from the factory with this desirable option.
According to the recollections of the 300 SL’s second, long-term owner, Merle Solland, which are recorded in a history book compiled by the owner on file, the car’s first owner was a major commercial apple farmer from Wenatchee, Washington. The farmer apparently had a young daughter who came to love the 300 SL and, as a teenager, she would drive it on their family orchard property. But soon, wary of his daughter having such a powerful machine as her first road car, the farmer decided to sell the rare Roadster.
Merle Solland learned of the 300 SL’s availability through a racing acquaintance in early 1964 and heard as well about the farmer’s quest for a more practical car for his daughter. So when Mr. Solland went to the orchard to look at the car, he drove his Ford, which he happily left behind for the farmer’s daughter, driving home in his newly purchased Mercedes-Benz.
Mr. Solland, a larger-than-life figure and world-record-holding hydroplane racer, would retain the 300 SL in his family for the next 54 years, until it was acquired by the consignor in 2018. Kurt Solland recalled that when his father purchased the car, it had covered about 36,000 miles and it remained original except for an unusual off-yellow paint job which was believed to have been applied by the original owner. Historical registration documents, including 1964 Washington registration, as well as the car’s 1963 Washington license plate, remain with the car today.
When the consignor, a Swedish connoisseur of preservation-class sports cars, purchased this remarkable 300 SL in 2018, he became its third owner. With a keen eye for original finishes and an interest in cars of exceptional originality, the consignor was ecstatic to acquire this sensational example. He soon retained the 300 SL specialists HK Engineering in Germany go through the car, painstakingly removing the yellow paint, revealing the car’s beautiful original silver finish. It was noted during this effort that the right front fender had some prior paintwork as well, likely completed prior to 1963. Photographs on file document this prolonged, laborious paint-removal process, and apparently, after over 1,000 hours spent on this aspect of the project, the firm simply stopped counting their time.
The consignor notes that in addition to its sensational exterior appearance, the car’s original factory interior remains intact, down to its rubber floor mats and trunk mat. He further notes that the Mercedes-Benz retains its original factory soft top and rear window, among countless other fascinating details, and he states that the period-correct Continentals fitted to the car’s date-stamped Rudge wheels may even be the original tires.
As with the Roadster’s exterior, an incredible attention to detail is evident in HK Engineering’s approach to the car’s mechanical restoration. The firm performed overhauls of the car’s engine, gearbox, suspension, rear end, brakes, and fuel-injection pump in 2019, balancing and blueprinting the 300 SL’s engine to ensure it would be as vibration-free as possible once assembled. Vintage finishes were retained on as many engine and ancillary components as possible and the undercarriage, which was carefully cleaned with dry ice, was reportedly found to be in beautiful original condition.
As expected with an example of this quality, the 300 SL retains an impressive array of original documentation and accompanying items. The Mercedes-Benz is presented with a factory tool roll, jack, manuals, sales brochure, workshop manual, and spare parts book. The car is further accompanied by original registrations, 1963 license plates, and even the rarely seen factory 300 SL Bord Ersatzteile Sortiment, or “On-Board Spare Parts Collection.” The trunk is fitted with an original set of Hepco luggage manufactured in 1957 with two keys that retain their original tag. The 300 SL is also accompanied by a beautiful, large format volume which recounts its history and restoration, a spare injection pump in its original Robert Bosch Mercedes-Benz box, and a spare set of original Rudge wheels, which the consignor notes were removed from Clark Gable’s 300 SL Roadster.
Importantly, per the 300 SL’s data card, this example retains its matching-numbers engine, body, chassis, steering box, rear end, and front axles. The data card lists the 300 SL’s gearbox number as 216, while the unit is stamped with 7500276. The consignor believes that this may be the result of a typographical error between a 7 and 1 and thus it is possible, if not likely, that the car’s gearbox may be original as well.
Put simply, the private sale offering of this extraordinary Roadster represents an opportunity to acquire what is certainly one of the finest original Mercedes-Benz 300 SLs of any type in existence. Its level of preservation is astonishing, with rarely seen original details, decals, and finishes throughout. In addition to its remarkable condition, the Mercedes-Benz has had just three owners, having been cared for by its second owner for 54 years. The 300 SL also retains an impressive number of matching-numbers components, has a known history dating back to 1957, and has benefited from a mechanical restoration by one of the world’s foremost 300 SL specialists. The fact that it is one of fewer than 30 original Rudge-wheel-optioned roadsters, along with its significant cache of accessories and accompanying items, further cement its status as an automobile of true historic importance and extreme rarity. This singular 300 SL Roadster deserves your closest inspection.