1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe 'Gullwing'
- Retaining its original engine and presented in its original colour combination
- Delivered new to Toronto, Canada
- Accompanied by copies of its original Mercedes-Benz build sheet
- Highly eligible for historic motoring events, and a veteran of the Mille Miglia Storico on several occasions
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ‘Gullwing’
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, or ‘Gullwing’ to almost all of us, is one of the greatest success stories, thanks to its unique design and extraordinary power. “What we need over here is a great Mercedes-Benz sports car,” US importer Maximilian Hoffman is reported to have said. In September 1953 he convinced the Board of Management at Daimler-Benz to build a series version of the successful 300 SL racing sports car. Incredibly, just five months later in February 1954, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198) made its sensational debut at the International Motor Sports Show in New York. The new sports car exuded elegance and innovation in equal measure. It was the world’s first four-stroke production passenger car to be equipped with output- and efficiency-enhancing direct fuel injection.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the 300 SL are the roof-hinged, upswinging doors, earning it the legendary nickname ‘Gullwing’. Even today, more than 65 years after it was first unveiled, it is still widely considered one of the ultimate dream cars, largely thanks to its fantastic design.
Mercedes-Benz developed the M198, a dry-sump, water-cooled, 3.0 Litre, overhead camshaft straight-six engine with an impressive 240 bhp. Design was important to Mercedes-Benz, and to fit the engine underneath the low bonnet, the engine was titled 50˚ towards the driver’s side. This gave the car great aerodynamic efficiency, with a large sand-cast aluminium intake manifold stretching across the engine’s entire breadth. The engine was mated to a four-speed manual transmission with delivered a top speed of 163 mph.
The chassis of the 300 SL ‘Gullwing’ was in line with contemporary competition cars, a tubular frame designed by Mercedes’ head engineer, Redolf Uhlenhaut. The finished frame weighed an incredible 83 kilograms, and interestingly it is as a result of this tubular chassis that the ‘Gullwing’ doors because a necessity. The side tubes were high up on the side of the car, and as a result a normal door would not have allowed very easy ingress for driver or passenger, so a new solution was required, and the most famous car door in history was created.
A sign of the cars incredible popularity is perhaps the list of famous owners, including Sophia Lauren, Clark Gable, Ralph Lauren, Adrian Conan Doyle, Bernie Ecclestone, Rob Walker, Juan Manuel Fangio, Juan Peron, Pablo Picasso and Paul Newman to name only a few!
This 1955 ‘Gullwing’
Here we have the pleasure of offering a fabulous 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ‘Gullwing’ which completed build in Germany on the 2nd March 1955, before being shipped to Canada on the 29th March. Chassis 198 040 5500123 was ordered new in Metallic Silver Grey DB180, with a special order red leather 1079 interior, just as it is presented today. Options specified on this ‘Gullwing’ include sealed-beam headlights, English instruments, bumpers with overriders, windshield washer, one extra kilogram of paint and packing for sea shipping. The car was also fittest with the longest rear axle ratio of 1:3.25, giving it the highest top speed achievable.
This car was sold new through Toronto Mercedes-Benz official dealer, J.Cooke Motors, before entering the ownership of Nels Silverthorne and later crossing the border to the USA where it resided in Englewood, Colorado. In 1989, this 300 SL was bought by John W Dick in Jersey who maintained ownership until our very own Max Girardo sold the car for him at the RM Auctions London auction in 2010. During Mr Dick’s ownership, this car competed in the famous Mille Miglia on several occasions, as well as receiving its FIVA Identity Car in April 2005. The car was bought by its most recent owner in 2010 and has remained in Jersey since. The car has been regularly driven and enjoyed, joining a fabulous stable of cars.
Today, this car offers a rare opportunity to obtain a beautifully reserved, matching-numbers Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ‘Gullwing’ with its original chassis, engine, gearbox, rear axle and body, all confirmed thanks to a copy of the original build sheet which is contained within the accompanying history file. As ‘Gullwing’s go, this one is tough to beat, a real favourite in our office!
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