1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing
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.
|type||Series Production Car|
|displacement||2996 cc / 182.83 in³|
|bore||85 mm / 3.3 in|
|stroke||88 mm / 3.5 in|
|power||179.0 kw / 240 bhp @ 6100 rpm|
|specific output||80.11 bhp per litre|
|bhp/weight||199.5 bhp per tonne|
|torque||294.2 nm / 217 ft lbs @ 4800 rpm|
|body / frame||Aluminum Body over Steel Space Frame|
|front tires||6.50-15 Dunlop SP Sport D8|
|rear tires||6.50-15 Dunlop SP Sport D8|
|front wheels||F 38.1 x 12.7 cm / 15 x 5 in|
|rear wheels||R 38.1 x 12.7 cm / 15 x 5 in|
|f suspension||Double Wishbones w/Coil Springs over Telescopic Dampers|
|r suspension||Half Axles w/Coil Springs over Telescopic Dampers|
|curb weight||1203 kg / 2650 lbs|
|wheelbase||2400 mm / 94.5 in|
|front track||1384 mm / 54.5 in|
|rear track||1435 mm / 56.5 in|
|length||4217 mm / 166.0 in|
|width||1778 mm / 70.0 in|
|height||1300 mm / 51.2 in|
|gear ratios||3.34:1, 1.97:1, 1.39:1, 1.00:1|
|top speed||~241.35 kph / 150 mph|
Auction Sales History
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing 198.043.5500208 – sold for $4,620,000 The Sixth of 29 Aluminum-Bodied 300 SL Gullwings Built. Numerous Competition-Born Features Original Matching-Numbers NSL-Code Engine. Complete with Rudge Wheels, Belly Pans and Luggage. Recent Major Refurbishment by Rudi Koniczek’s Rudi & Co. Kirkland Concours d’Elegance Award Winner. Exacting Finish Throughout. The Rarest and Most Desirable of All 300 SLs.
Auction Source: 2012 Scottsdale Auction by Gooding & Company