1958 Mercedes 300SL Roadster 1980042-8500067
Lot 214
1958 Mercedes 300SL Roadster 1980042-8500067
Sold for £289,700 (US$ 480,700) inc. premium
Lot Details
1958 Mercedes 300SL Roadster
Registration no. to be advised
Chassis no. 1980042-8500067
Engine no. 198980-7500569

Footnotes

  • Created to spearhead Mercedes-Benz’s return to competition in the post-war era, the 300SL debuted in the 1952 Mille Miglia, finishing 2nd and 4th overall. Wins in the Carrera Pan-Americana and at Le Mans followed, and the 300SL was on its way to becoming part of motor sporting legend. The first racers were open-topped, but before the ’52 season’s end the distinctive gull-wing doored Coupé had appeared. Unusually high sills were a feature of the multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, and while access was not a problem of the open car, the adoption of coupé bodywork required innovative thinking - hence the gull-wing doors.
    Launched in 1954, the production 300SL retained the spaceframe chassis of the racer and was powered by a 2,996cc, overhead-camshaft, inline six canted at 45 degrees to achieve a lower, more aerodynamic bonnet line. Using innovative direct fuel injection, this state-of-the-art power unit produced 215bhp at 5,800rpm. A four-speed 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. It was, arguably, the world’s first supercar.
    Tested by Road & Track magazine in 1955, the 300SL accelerated from 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds, going on to achieve a top speed of 140mph - outstanding figures for its day. 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 cousin’s already exemplary road manners. Conventionally doored, the 300SL Roadster was first exhibited at the Geneva Salon in May 1957 and would outlive the Coupé by several years. The production of an open 300SL involved altering the cockpit area, where the spaceframe was re-designed to permit lower sills for improved access. At the same time the rear suspension was changed to incorporate low-pivot swing axles.
    The Roadster’s neutral steering characteristics received fulsome praise from Road & Track in its 1958 roadtest. ‘With the low-pivot rear suspension and more adhesive tyres, the car handles beautifully under all conditions. This is a tremendous improvement over the hardtop models, which had a tendency to oversteer rather violently if pressed too hard.’ A 0-60mph time of 7.0 seconds and a top speed of 130mph were recorded, making the 300SL Roadster one of the fastest convertibles of its time. R&T concluded: ‘There is no doubt that the 300SL roadster is a truly great dual-purpose sportscar, equally at home in traffic and the open road, or on the track,’ words that remain equally true today.
    Chassis number ‘8500067’ was supplied new in France in 1958 registered ‘7613 K7 75’, although little else of its early history is known. In the mid-1960s the car was acquired by the Musée de l’Automobiliste à Mougins, on the Côte D’Azure. This museum housed an eclectic mix of collectors’ automobiles assembled by the larger-than-life founder, Monsieur Adrien Maeght. Here the 300SL led a pampered life in a stable that included Ferraris, Bugattis, Voisins, Rolls-Royces, Alfa Romeos and the like. Home to some of the greatest classic road and racing cars in Europe, the museum became a focal point for European car clubs. (A magazine depicting this car on display in the collection is included). Sadly, the museum closed in the early 1990s after Monsieur Maeght’s death, and ‘8500067’ was purchased by Dr Dieter Pfeiffer, a discerning, car-collecting dentist. Dr Pfeiffer has a reputation for purchasing only the best specimens of collector’s cars and this low mileage 300SL was acquired for regular use.
    The car was used sparingly and serviced properly while in the care of Dr Pfeiffer, who in 1995 commissioned a thorough but sympathetic restoration using foremost specialists in Germany. The car was completely stripped to bare metal and mechanically totally rebuilt, with trim and paintwork refinished to better than factory standards. This older restoration’s quality is evident in the cosmetic and mechanical condition of the car today, some 10,000-or-so kilometres having been covered since the engine was rebuilt approximately 10 years go. To aid driveability in modern traffic conditions, the restoration included fitting the desirable front disc brake conversion and a quality, boot-mounted CD stereo system with effective remote control from either the driver or passenger seats. A switchable cooling fan has been fitted, which can override the factory system in town driving should the need ever arise. A full photographic record of this restoration is included together with various accompanying invoices.
    This superb 300SL was purchased from a reputable German specialist and chosen over several highly restored cars on account of its provenance, low mileage and driveability. The vendor, who has a small yet exclusive stable of cars, wanted the best 300SL on the market for usability, but not a concours example, and hunted throughout the world for one suitable. Now the vendor is selling several cars to concentrate on building his collection of classic Bentleys and focusing solely on this marque.
    In February 2007 a full service was carried out by Europe’s leading 300SL specialists - HK Engineering in Germany. Anything that needed attention was addressed and fewer than 400 miles have been covered since, while the complete fuel system (including pump) was fully rebuilt two years ago. A new set of correct Pirelli radial tyres has been fitted also.
    We are advised that on a recent test drive the car was found to start correctly on the button, display good oil pressure, and have a very strong engine and brakes. During this test no faults were noticed and the 300SL drove as well as one would expect from an example properly sorted by the right specialists. There cannot be many better ways of travelling to a classic event, taking part and driving home.
    Although it cannot be verified, it is believed that the indicated odometer reading of circa 75,500 kilometres is correct and this would appear to be supported by how well the car drives and its general presentation. There is a matching original hardtop - in mint original condition – which is tight and secure on fitment, thus making the car the perfect winter driver. The vendor has kindly offered to deliver the hardtop anywhere in the South East of England as part of the sale, but if the car goes further a field it will need to be collected and shipped from its dehumidified storage facility near the M25.
    A comprehensive assortment of original documents or facsimiles is offered with the car including a step-by-step photographic record of all aspects of the restoration; a magazine from the Musée de l’Automobiliste à Mougins showing the car in the collection when it was still French registered; a German TüV certificate; a quantity of invoices and brochures from the various specialists who worked on the car; a copy of the original build sheet; and an original owner’s manual, parts catalogue, workshop manual, jack and wheel brace. In addition, Gull Wing owners’ club technical tips and records, various magazines relating to the 300SL, and the original French registration plate come with the car. To complete the package, a new lightweight tailored rainproof cover in white tyvek is also supplied and the car possesses a UK Swansea V5 registration document, current MoT (expires 15th March 2008) and road fund licence.
    This very special example of the iconic 300SL Roadster has no apparent faults and wants for nothing, so can be driven away from the sale to a new home anywhere in the world.

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