At the behest of American importer Max Hoffman, Mercedes developed the 300SL as a sports car aimed at enticing US buyers. It was based on the company’s W194 sports racers, which featured upward-opening doors to accommodate the high sills of its lightweight tubular space frame. The production version of the 300SL, unveiled at the 1954 International Motor Sports Show in New York, used steel for the bodywork and aluminum for the hood, trunk lid, door skins, rocker panels, and floorboards.
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.
The Gullwing Coupe, also 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 yield a low front nose. To aid with engine compartment cooling, two large outlets were added to keep the air flowing outwards.
Produced during a three-year production run, this 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL was completed on June 16, 1955, and left the factory on June 29, 1955, for delivery in the US via New York. This is one of 44 coupes finished in Ivory (DB608) in 1955 and was refinished in its current silver shade before the mid-1960s. The exterior features front and rear bumper guards, a driver-side Talbot mirror, pivot-out door handles, wheel-arch “eyebrows” without welting, and fender louvers with twin horizontal aluminum spears.
The blue leather (333) cabin is as specified on the factory build sheet, with color-matched loop carpeting covering the center tunnel and rear shelf and a cream headliner that meets the leather trim at the top of the A and B pillars. Features include latch-and-link lap belts, black rubber floor mats, an aftermarket shifter and boot, a dash-mounted rearview mirror, and a Becker Mexico radio.
The 3.0-liter M198 inline-six engine, with mechanical direct Bosch fuel injection, produces a factory-rated 215 horsepower at 5,800 rpm. The engine also features dry-sump lubrication, an aluminum cylinder head mated to an angled block surface, a single overhead camshaft, and sodium-filled exhaust valves. The power is transmitted to the rear wheels through a replacement four-speed manual transmission. The car has covered approximately 79k miles, and the odometer shows five digits.
Seeing a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing on the market is a rare occurrence, which is why you should never let this one go! As of this writing, the current bid stands at $1,350,000 on Bring A Trailer.