Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster 1959

Lot 12
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Estimation :
950000 - 1150000 EUR
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster 1959

Belgian title

Chassis number: 8500310

Engine no.: 8500308

Matching numbers

High quality restoration

Custom made luggage

Former car of one of France’s favourite actors and comedians

Documented and cristal clear history

In the aftermath of the Second World War, motor racing is a popular sport. Old competitions are reborn after a hiatus of a few years, while others are created in Europe and the rest of the world. Amongst the new races was the Carrera Panamericana, a formidable 3,373 km race navigating the Mexican portion of the famous Pan-American Highway. It’s most famous victory being that of Karl Kling and Hans Klenk in 1952 in a Mercedes 300 SL W194 prototype with amazing ‘butterfly’ doors. Finishing the race in 18 hours and 51 minutes despite colliding with a vulture, their performance impressed the brand’s tireless American importer Max Hoffman. Against all odds, he managed to convince the German manufacturer to launch a civilian version of the W194 and undertook to order and sell the first 1,000 units himself. The legend of the 300 SL, born for racing, could finally be extended to the road...

Powered by a 3-litre 6-cylinder engine developing 225 bhp and surrounded by a “Super Leicht” body thanks to its tubular chassis, 80% of cars produced were sold in the United States, as Max Hoffman had predicted. It was a great commercial success, which above all enabled the brand to boost its image on the market. Customers loved the car’s racing history and its slim, elegant design, but it’s the butterfly doors that will made it the talk of the town. This was a necessity rather than a design choice, as the tubular structure did not allow conventional doors to be featured. The gullwing doors were extended onto the roof to allow for a more convenient access. The coupe did have some problems, however. In the rain, opening the doors would spill water on the occupants and the gullwing doors did not allow the installation of sliding windows, leaving the driver and passenger to bake in the sun .

In 1956, with sales of the coupe declining, Mercedes management considered the future of the 300 SL in the range. The decision was taken to stop making of coupes and to start the production of a roadster. This new model, available with a hard top from 1958, solved some of the coupé’s shortcomings, but above all met the growing demand of the Californian market. Just as slim and elegant, 150 kg heavier but 15 hp more powerful, the roadster was produced for seven years (compared to four years for the coupe). The first year of production was one of the most successful for this model, with 618 orders received before stabilizing at around 200 units in the following years. In total, 1,458 roadsters were produced in the Sindelfingen plant (compared to 1,200 coupes)

The car we are presenting today is a 1958 Roadster sold new in the USA. Imported in December 1958 but not registered until September 1959, its order form indicates an original color of Weissgrau (an elegant grey-white) for the body - work, and Graphitgrau (a graphite grey) for the hard top. The interior is finished in red leather, while the soft top was made of black cloth. The Becker Mexico radio, a rare option from the period, is also featured on the order form. In 1972, still registered in the United States, it appeared in metallic silver. It was flown to the United Arab Emirates in October 2003 but stayed there for only three years before being imported to Belgium in February 2006. A tune-up and light restoration was then undertaken before it was sold in 2009 to Mercedes-Benz dealer and garage Deman in Brussels. The latter will have the car completely restored until 2010, taking care to respect all the small details that make the prestige of such a car. A few years later in 2015, a set of custom-made luggage will complete the equipment of his roadster.

A lover of classic cars, one of France’s favourite actors and comedians for the past twenty years fell under the spell of this car in September 2018. He will always entrust its maintenance to Deman Brussels before parting with it today for a completely different project. 

With less than 89,000 original kilometers, this magnificent Roadster, in incredible condition, is just waiting to be driven and to take you on a weekend or a holiday, Grand Tourism style. We can already imagine the bellman of a grand hotel on the Cote d’Azur opening the trunk and bringing the sublime red suitcases to your room...

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