To stay competitive in sports car racing, Mercedes-Benz offered a handful of 300 SL Coupes with aluminum-alloy bodies. With these alloy cars, Mercedes-Benz could improve the pedigree of the production version which was outwardly identical.
Based on the W194 racecars which won Le Mans, the 300 SL was fully capable and raced at events like the Mille Miglia. The weight reduction of 200 lbs meant the alloy cars had a clear advantage on the race track.
In addition to the lightweight body, Mercedes outfitted the alloy cars with Plexiglass windows, shorter competition springs , stiffer shock absorbers, hotter camshafts and knock-off Rudge-Whitworth wheels.
Only 29 alloy cars were ordered which was just 2% of the production run.
Our feature car, chassis 5500208, was delivered in metallic silver gray with blue leather interior to Veron Holz of Bonita, California. The first owner never raced the car and its history is unknown until the 1980s. At that time it was disassembled by Hill & Vaughn in Santa Monica while the engine was sent to Germany and rebuilt by AMG Motorbau. Later the whole car was shipped in pieces to Germany and completed overseas.
In 2009, the Gullwing was purchased by Ken McBride of Seattle, Washington. He sent the car to Rudi & Co. in Victoria, BC, Canada for a correct shade of DB180 silver and blue leather upholstery with plaid seat inserts. It debuted after McBride passed away at the 2011 Kirkland Concours d’Elegance.
The car was offered for sale at the the 2012 Scottsdale Auction by Gooding & Co. They achieved a high bid of $4,200,000 USD which with buyer’s premium set a world record for a 300 SL at auction with a total figure of $4,620,000 USD.