1957 MERCEDES BENZ 300 SL
Lot 175
1957 MERCEDES BENZ 300 SL,1957 Mercedes 300SL Roadster Chassis no. 198 042 7500544 Engine no. 198 980 5500599
Sold for €370,500 (US$ 488,244) inc. premium
Lot Details
1957 MERCEDES BENZ 300 SL
1957 Mercedes 300SL Roadster
Chassis no. 198 042 7500544
Engine no. 198 980 5500599
Créée dans le but de soutenir après la guerre le retour de Mercedes à la compétition internationale, la 300 SL débuta à la Mille Miglia et s’imposa dans la Carrera Panamericana et au Mans. Mercedes en tira bientôt une version routière, le célèbre Coupé à portes « papillon » qui conserva le châssis en treillis du type de compétition et le moteur six-cylindres à arbre à cames en tête et injection directe donnant 215 ch à 5 800 tr/min. La vitesse de pointe fut mesurée en 1955 à plus de 220 km/h. Pour élargir le marché de cette supercar avant la lettre, Mercedes-Benz proposa en 1957 le Roadster, élégante version décapotable au comportement routier amélioré et d’une utilisation plus facile. Le châssis fut redessiné pour pouvoir doter la carrosserie de portes normales et la suspension arrière modifiée par abaissement du pivot d’articulation des demi-essieux brisés lui donna une tenue de route plus prévisible. Le comportement neutre du Roadster fut salué par les essayeurs de Road & Track en 1958 comme « un fantastique progrès par rapport au modèle fermé qui avait une tendance marquée au survirage à grande vitesse ». Et R&D concluait : « Il ne fait absolument aucun doute que le roadster 300 SL est une grande voiture de sport à la personnalité double, également à l’aise dans la circulation normale en ville et sur route et sur les circuits ». Cela reste vrai aujourd’hui.

Cette magnifique 300 SL Roadster fut livrée neuve aux Etats-Unis où elle a été restaurée jusqu’au moindre détail dans les années 1980 avant de revenir en Allemagne en 1989. Après une vingtaine d’années passées dans un musée, elle en a été libérée non sans avoir bénéficié d’une totale réfection mécanique « sans considération de coût » en 2007. Toutes les factures relatives à cette reconstruction sont disponibles ainsi que le manuel de l’utilisateur et les documents d’immatriculation hollandais.
On notera que si le moteur installé dans la voiture n’est pas son groupe d’origine, il est néanmoins du type correct et aux spécifications standard. Tous les autres numéros concordent : caisse, boîte de vitesses, pont arrière et boîtier de direction.
Depuis cette restauration, la voiture qui a effectué environ 3 000 km est totalement au point. Son schéma de couleurs est très chic : blanc avec intérieur en cuir bleu et capote assortie et deux valises bleues spécialement fabriquées occupent le coffre.

Cette 300 SL Roadster affiche une précieuse patine, la peinture et les cuirs de vingt ans ayant été préservés par ce long séjour dans le musée. Elle offre un agrément de conduite hors du commun avec son moteur puissant et sa direction et sa commande de boîte précises qui donnent l’impression de conduire une voiture neuve.


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.
This lovely 300SL Roadster was delivered new to the USA and restored there down to the smallest detail in the 1980s before returning to Germany in 1989. After spending 20 years in a museum collection there it has at last been released from incarceration, but not before undergoing a ‘no-expense-spared’ mechanical overhaul in 2007. All invoices relating to the rebuild are available, and the car also comes with owner’s manual and Netherlands registration papers.
It should be noted that although the engine is not original to this car, it is of the correct type and specification. All other numbers match: body, gearbox, rear axle and steering box.

Since completion the car has driven some 3,000 kilometres and is fully sorted. The colour combination is très chic: Ivory White with blue leather interior and matching hood, while there are two custom-made blue suitcases in the trunk.
This 300SL possesses a delightful patina, the 20-year-old paintwork and leather being remarkably well preserved thanks to long-term museum conservation. The car is a lovely driver, the engine runs strongly and the steering and gearchange are precise; indeed, it is like driving a showroom-fresh example.
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