The Mercedes-Benz 300SL stands as one of most memorable coupes of the fifties. The gullwing doors not only distinguished it, but they are a clever solution to hide the cars unique space frame chassis. It’s also the most recognizable Mercedes and every seriously collection usually has one.
Noted restorer Paul Russel describes the car: ”Not only is the 300SL Gullwing legendary today, it was also very special when it was new. Consider the car in the perspective of its time, in light of its contemporaries in 1954. The 300SL coupe had dry-sump lubrication, direct fuel injection, a tubular spaceframe chassis, independent suspension, impeccable build quality, a very comfortable interior, and, of course, a beautiful and dynamic design, which clearly has stood the test of time.”
The Gullwing Coupe, aslo known as the W194, was the first true sports-car to be developed by Daimler-Benz after the war. It was introduced in 1952 as a lightweight race car to compete in Mille Milia. In September 1953 the road-going development of 300SL began. It was presented in February of 1954 at the International Motor Sports Show in New York, based on the racing-car of the 1952 season.
The car utilized an inline-6 from the 300S saloon, with that model’s transmission & suspension setups. Unlike the 300S, the engine was positioned at an angle to yeild a low front nose. To aid with engine compartment cooling, two large outlets were added to keep the air flowing outwards.
The streamlined body concealed several other novelties. For the first time fuel injection was used in a road-car car by Mercedes-Benz. An increase of of 40 HP was realized compared to the the carburetor racing version.
The first batch of SL’s suffered from their drum brakes and swing axle setups. Although these were revised on later editions. For some clients a lightweight version was prepared with an aluminum body and aluminum castings, but these were seldom raced. Instead, Mercedes prepared the 300 SLR, which used a much lower and chassis similar to the W196.
Double Wishbones w/Coil Springs over Telescopic Dampers
Half Axles w/Coil Springs over Telescopic Dampers
1293 kg / 2851 lbs
2400 mm / 94.5 in
1384 mm / 54.5 in
1435 mm / 56.5 in
4217 mm / 166.0 in
1778 mm / 70.0 in
1300 mm / 51.2 in
3.34:1, 1.97:1, 1.39:1, 1.00:1
~235.0 kph / 146.0 mph
0 – 60 mph
0 – 100 mph
0 – 1/4 mile
Auction Sales History
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe 5500053 – did not sell for $1,100,000 Correct Chassis, Engine And Body As Per Build Sheet. Forty Years Of Single Ownership. Carefully Maintained By Paul Russell & Company. Outstanding Mechanical Condition. Full, Original Belly Pans. Largely Preserved, But With An Exterior Color Change To A Correct M-B Color. Bosch Direct, Mechanical Fuel Injection, 250 Hp. Listed In The Gullwing Register, 1978, Page 71. Retains Its Original Factory Rudge Wheels. Auction Source: ‘Rolling Sculpture’ 2015 NYC by Keno Brothers
1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe 198.040.4500105 – sold for $1,166,000 105th Gullwing produced finished as it appears today in Silver Grey Metallic (DB180) over a Red Leather interior from the factory. Never taken apart for restoration. Remains in very original condition and is believed to have covered less than 34,000 miles since new. The rich red leather interior appears to be the original installed from new, and features a lovely, inimitable patina. Auction Source: 2015 Quail Lodge Auction by Bonh
This magnificent, matching-numbers Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing was completed on 27th January 1955 and shipped immediately to Mercedes-Benz Distributors Inc in San Francisco, California, USA. The car stayed in the United States for most of its life and had several owners in California including James S Long and Jan Henner Matthias. In 2003 the Mercedes was exported to Europe where it formed part of the collection belonging to the well-known collector Mr Pierre Mellinger. According to Anthony Pritchard’s definitive work on the model, ‘Gullwing, The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé’, this car formed part of a Swedish collection at some time. More recently it was owned by a collector from Monaco. The current owner bought the car in 2012.
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe 198.040.5500545 – sold for $1,375,000 UK delivery Gullwing owned when new by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Professionally restored by Scott Grundfor Company and serviced by Rene Lutheraan. Matching numbers example finished in its factory delivered livery. Beautiful example of Mercedes-Benz’s legendary 300SL Gullwing.Offered with MB Classic Zertifikat, copies of build sheets, books, tools and belly pans. Auction Source: The Scottsdale Auction 2015 by Bonhams
Factory build sheet. The car left the factory with Rudge wheels. Matching Red luggage. Restored in Silver with Red interior. Current owner drove on the Colorado Grand in 2011. Previous owner and his wife drove car from Vancouver to the arctic circle in Alaska over 2,600 miles. Earliest known owner was a famous hydroplane racer from Washington state. 2996cc engine. Bosch fuel injection. 4-speed transmission. Radio and dash clock. VDO gauges. Spare tire and lug wrench.
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing198.040.6500052 – sold for $1,292,500 The 1956 Turin International Automobile Salon car. Equipped from new with Rudge wheels. A beautiful, recent restoration. Originally displayed in Silver Grey Metallic (180), with a special-order red leather interior (1079) and arguably the most desirable factory option, Rudge wheels. Auction Source: 2014 Arizona by RM Auctions
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing 198.040.5500695. Special-ordered by Mr. Brown, the car is one of 19 ordered in this striking shade, Light Green Metallic, and it was likely one of still fewer with full red leather upholstery. In more recent care, it was professionally refinished in the original Light Green Metallic, and new red leather upholstery, in the original pattern and grain as in 1955, was installed. Comforts and conveniences within include a radio, a full set of factory-style fitted luggage, and a tool kit.
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing 198.040.5500428 – sold for $1,705,000 Factory-Delivered Rudge Wheel Gullwing. One Southern California Owner from 1966 to 2010. Participant in Countless Gull Wing Group Events. Consistently Maintained by Jerry Hjeltness and Paul Russell and Company. Matching-Numbers Chassis, Engine, and Body. Presented in Ideal Color Combination. Equipped with Nardi Steering Wheel and Fitted Luggage. Complete with Belly Pans, Books, Tool Kit , and Extensive Records. Auction Source: Gooding & Company’s 10th Anniversary 2013 Pebble Beach Auction
This splendid Mercedes 300 SL was delivered new on 31 January 1955 to San Francisco, in a white-grey “Weissgrau”, reference DB 158, with blue fabric upholstery. According to the expert’s report included in the file, the car has known several owners : James S. Long, from Redendo Beach, in California, then Jan Henner Matthias, from Marina del Rey, also under the Californian sun. It was then exported to England, and in 2003 became the property of renowned collector M. Pierre Mellinger, before passing into the hands of its current owner from Monaco via a British intermediary company. During its stay in England, the car was treated to a thorough restoration, when the interior and the paintwork was re-done, leaving the car in impeccable condition. The current owner has had the car serviced by Mercedes to pass the MOT in Monaco. We note that it is equipped with the original engine, and that a compression check has been carried out.
Now in metallic grey with immaculate blue leather upholstery, this Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing is presented in pristine condition and runs smoothly. Here is an opportunity to acquire a design classic and a legend from the history of the automobile which has a place in the finest collections.
4,149 Original Miles. This exceptional example is one of only 146 that were built in 1954. This car was originally purchased by the late Willet H. Brown/Hillcrest Motors Collection, at Hollywood Mercedes. With only 4,149 original miles this Gullwing is one of the lowest mileage Gullwing’s in existence. It comes with original tools, manual, service book and registration card from 1962-1965. Having been repainted once, in its original color, everything else on the car is all original. Also included in the sale are the original wheels, tires and hubcaps.
he exquisite, highly original Cream on Blue 1961 roadster offered here, chassis number 10.002719, was purchased new by an American who took delivery of the car at the factory in Stuttgart, Germany. Not long after, the owner returned the car to the factory to have its original cast iron engine block replaced with the new, lightweight alloy unit introduced by Mercedes Benz in March 1962. Disc brakes were also added at that time. Today showing just 33,561 original kilometers, this very rare European-specification example remains mostly unrestored and in extraordinarily original condition, as initially equipped with a Black soft top and very rare factory custom-fitted luggage.
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe – sold for $803,000 Just two California-based owners from new; one of only 1,400 built. Includes original Rudge wheels, belly pans, fitted luggage, “sport” camshaft and more. Comprehensively restored and recently detailed by Kevin Kay Restorations. An iconic design statement with performance that remains thrilling today. Auction Source: 2011 Monterey Auction by RM
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe – sold for $836,000 Iconic Gullwing Coupe sold new in Toronto; one owner until 2006. Ground-up restoration by RM Auto Restoration. Black with red leather interior. Today the Mercedes-Benz remains outstanding, beautifully maintained and fastidiously cared for with about 56,145 miles indicated. Auction Source: 2011 Monterey Auction by RM
Finished in Medium Red, it was delivered new with the extremely desirable Rudge wheels, as confirmed by its listing in the Register of “Special Order.” Known owners in the same Register are Chester Flynn, Charles Kriesler (New York), Trent Lowney (San Francisco, California), Chris Borden (Palm Springs, California) and Michael Rogerson (Encino, California). According to Borden, the original engine was replaced by a factory spare unit. In fact, it was also reported that Dr. Werner Vogler raced the car in Hamburg, Germany, who it is believed was the prominent German Mercedes dealer who first opened his doors in 1927 and whose dealership network is now celebrating over 80 years of business.
In 2008, noted restorer and marque specialist Jerry Hjeltness of Escondido, California performed a complete service on the car, including lubrication and replacing all fluids. Finally, in October 2008, the Mercedes Classic Center in Irvine, California performed a thorough detailing of the car, including the engine compartment, interior and exterior finish. This work included repainting chips in the paint caused by normal driving and wet-sanding the finish to remove micro-abrasion. In January 2009, the current owner acquired the Gullwing, and it has since been featured in the forthcoming film Father of Invention, starring Kevin Spacey.
The 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing pictured here in black is an outstanding, matching numbers example with four owners from new. Originally delivered to Dr. Denton S. Coe of New York, he enjoyed this thoroughbred until 1970, when it was sold to John Church, of Norwalk, Connecticut. In 1971, Church sold the car to restaurateur and opera singer Neil Zarerelli, of North Carolina, who retained ownership of the car for the next 35 years. Driven sparingly and garage kept, the 300SL was entrusted to Automotive International, of Charlotte, North Carolina in 2001, for a complete but sympathetic restoration, totaling over $75,000 in expenses. Over the next four years, the car was also given a complete mechanical rebuild, which included restoration of the engine and gearbox, along with the brake and fuel systems. In 2005, the decision was made to repaint the car in its original black finish.
Throughout four and a half decades in illustrator and car enthusiast Syd Mead’s care, various cosmetic and mechanical aspects were addressed; however, the well-built Mercedes- Benz never warranted a complete, ground-up restoration. Even today, it is best described as a carefully maintained example that has been extremely well-kept and refurbished to a consistently high standard. It has always been treated with appreciation, driven with vigor and kept in fine tune. Thanks to decades of fastidious care, it remains in outstanding overall condition. The restoration was completed by 1969, the quality of which was fully endorsed when the car was shown in concours that year and the next, winning the highest accolades wherever it was displayed.
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.
This handsome 1955 300SL was originally finished in Silver Gray metallic with a red leather interior, precisely the way it is presented today. It has been carefully prepared for vintage rallies and in fact has been raced multiple times in the Mille Miglia. Devoid of front and rear bumpers (which are included with the car) and fitted with very expensive Rudge wheels, it has a very sporting appearance reminiscent of the Gullwings raced in all the great endurance races in the 1950s. One silencer was removed from the exhaust, rendering the car with a knee-weakening exhaust note.
This handsome 300SL, sporting red paint with tan leather interior, has been regularly used in driving events and is fully sorted mechanically. The odometer reads just 77,000 miles, which are believed to be original. Factory original fitted luggage is also included, and the color matches the interior perfectly, further providing evidence that the interior (which has a lovely patina) is most likely original. Inside, you’ll find a Becker Le Mans radio and, in the trunk, the original jack and a complete tool roll (reproduction). All exterior body panels are straight and true, and the undercarriage is equipped with belly pans. This is an exceedingly nice driver quality 300SL that would be welcome at competition and driving events wherever its owner might choose to participate.
The coupe retains its original engine which was rebuilt during the body-on restoration, as were the balance of the major systems. The car recently received a comprehensive mechanical inspection and was adjusted, updated and renewed as necessary – a service totaling nearly $26,000. A recent test drive showed the car to be tight and responsive, with the acceleration and solid road manners one would expect from a well-restored 300 SL.
When this Gullwing left Stuttgart, Germany, in 1955, it was finished in the very rare DB 274 light green metallic and trimmed with a red leather interior, a color combination that today is highly prized among 300 SL enthusiasts. Only about 20 Gullwings are listed as having been ordered in this color, less than 2% of the total production of 1,400.
The 300 SL offered here was delivered new to Zurich, Switzerland, finished in red over silver as only the 32nd of its type built in the first year of production. The original engine was rebuilt by the factory in the 1970s and updated with a newer oil system. The car was later acquired by Mr. Steve Levy of Riverwoods, Illinois, who owned the car from 1987 to 1988. During his ownership, he had the car stripped to bare metal and repainted to its original “db180” silver by restorer Skip McCabe, while Dave Twitchell serviced the fuel injection system. A complete show-quality restoration was completed in the late 1980s, after which the car was reportedly entered in several shows where it was a multiple award-winner.
The 300SL Coupé offered here is a unique example indeed. It was purchased new from Stark Sports Cars by Mr. Robert Orr of Akron, Ohio and remained in his ownership until 2005, at which point it was donated to Ohio’s Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum. A collection of the Western Reserve Historical Society, the Museum presents the history of land and air transportation, showcasing historically and technically important cars, aircraft, motorcycles, bicycles and even spacecraft, and in particular their connection to the culture and history of Northeast Ohio. This car was particularly special as it had remained in Akron with Mr. Orr from new!
The 300SL Coupé presented here is confirmed by the Mercedes Classic Center to be a matching numbers example that retains its original engine. It was purchased from the original owner in 1965 by one Mr. Robert A. Bailey of New Jersey. In fact, until recently, the car never left the East Coast and received an extensive two-year restoration in 1989 at great cost to Mr. Bailey. Upon completion in 1991, the car simply remained covered and garaged, never so much as seeing an oil change or the slightest bit of road use
The Gullwing presented here today is a fine example of a slightly older restoration; it presents well with red leather contrasting with the silver paintwork and is reported to be running well. Described by the vendor as good in every respect, it also has its original belly pans fitted. Supplied with history detailing its time spent in the United States of America, its sale and repatriation back to Europe; it also comes with a UK MoT test certificate and tax disc. The wheels are of a standard steel configuration and, overall, it represents a rare opportunity to acquire a very usable Gullwing with an extremely accessible reserve.
According to the vendor, the award-winning Gullwing was subsequently shipped to Switzerland where it became part of a highly respected automotive collection and museum and never saw any road use for 15 years. The car was finally acquired by the owner’s family twelve years ago and shipped to London, remaining in their collection ever since. It has since been stripped down, repainted and brought back to concours-quality condition, as per factory specifications, finished in white with a red leather interior. The engine was rebuilt, the underside was fully detailed and, as supported by MOT certificates, the car has accumulated only about 1,000 miles in the last 10 or 12 years. In fact, the car has been driven less than 3,000 miles in the last three decades. Presented in show quality condition, it is also accompanied by belly pans and has been properly cared for and maintained in the owner’s respected colle
While in the present owner’s care this 300SL has been maintained by Paul Russell & Company of Essex, Massachusetts and comes with detailed invoices relating to work undertaken during 1999/2000 (far too extensive to list fully here but including a comprehensive brake system overhaul, wheel refurbishment and new exhaust system) totaling some $33,000. ‘6500287’ benefits from an air conditioning system, discreetly concealed, allowing for comfortable, warm weathered touring or rallying. This well maintained 300SL is offered complete with owner’s manual, two-piece luggage set, assorted correspondence and copy Gullwing Register entry.