Mercedes-Benz returned to post-war competition in 1952, fielding two of its new 300SL (W194) sports cars in the Mille Miglia, the pair finishing a creditable second and fourth overall in this most difficult of events. The works first raced the 300SL (Sport Leicht) in open form, but for the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in June a trio of gullwing-doored coupés was entered. High sills were a feature of the multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, and while access was not a problem of the open car, the coupé bodywork required innovative thinking - hence the gullwing doors. Karl Kling and Hans Klenk duly brought their Silver Arrow home in first place, and the 300SL was on its way to becoming part of motor sporting legend.
Launched in 1954, the production 300SL (W198) was tested by The Autocar magazine the following year, achieving a top speed of 129mph and accelerating from 0-60mph in just 8.8 seconds, the latter outstanding figure being due in part to the commendable lightness of the race-developed chassis and body. Like the W194 racer, the road-going 300SLs mechanical underpinnings were derived from those of the flagship 300 saloon. A 2,996cc overhead-camshaft inline six, the 300SLs engine was canted at 45 degrees to achieve a low bonnet line, and produced 215bhp (DIN) at 5,800rpm using Bosch mechanical fuel injection. A four-speed, all-synchromesh manual gearbox transmitted power to the hypoid bevel rear axle. Suspension was independent all round, by wishbones and coil springs at the front, with swing axles and coil springs at the rear.
Clearly the 300SL Coupé would be a hard act to follow, yet the Roadster version, introduced just three years later, succeeded in bettering its closed cousins already exemplary road manners. Built with conventional doors, the 300SL Roadster was first exhibited at the Geneva Salon in May 1957 and would out-live the coupé by several years. Roadster production ceased in 1963 after 1,858 cars had been built, and today the model is both rare and highly sought after.
Restored in Holland between 1997 and 2001 for a well-known Mercedes collector, this 300SL Roadster was acquired by the present owner around three years ago and since then has been driven circa 5,000-or-so kilometres without any problems occurring, a total of around 7,000 kilometres having been covered since its completion. A further CHF30,000 has been spent during the present ownership and the car is presented in good condition throughout. Finished in red with beige interior, it boasts new leather upholstery, carpets and soft-top, and is fitted with a fish tail exhaust. A radiator up-rated in the interests of improved cooling is the only departure from factory specification listed. The car is offered with old Netherlands registration papers, service history/ maintenance file, roadworthiness certificate (expires 2005) and Swiss Permis de Circulation. European taxes will be liable if the car is imported into the EU at the 5% rate available in the UK.
Restaurée en Hollande de 1997 à 2001 pour un collectionneur Mercedes bien connu, ce roadster 300SL aquis par le propriétaire actuel il y a approximativement 3 ans a parcouru depuis environ 5,000 kilomètres sans aucun problème mécanique, amenant le total à 7,000 kilomètres depuis la fin des travaux. Quelques CHF30,000 ont été dépensés depuis pour cette voiture en très bon état général. Présentée ici dans sa livrée rouge avec lintérieur en cuir beige, elle affiche une nouvelle sellerie en cuir, des tapis neufs, une capote récente, et un échappement plat, en "queue de poisson". La seule modification aux spécifications dorigine réside dans linstallation dun radiateur amélioré pour un meilleur refroidissement. La voiture est vendue avec ses ancien papiers dimmatriculation hollandais, son dossier de maintenance, une expertise à jour (valable jusquen 2005) et son permis de circulation suisse. Les taxes dimportation seront à régler si la voiture est importée en Europe par lAngleterre au taux de 5%.