1957 Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster
Lot 325
37,000 miles from new,1957 Mercedes 300SL Roadster Chassis no. 198-042-75-00109 Engine no. 198-980-75-00126
£380,000 - 450,000
US$ 640,000 - 760,000
amended
Lot Details
37,000 miles from new
1957 Mercedes 300SL Roadster
Registration no. 202 PNU
Chassis no. 198-042-75-00109
Engine no. 198-980-75-00126

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. 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. It was, arguably, the world's first supercar.

    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. Built with conventional doors, the 300SL Roadster was first exhibited at the Geneva Salon in May 1957 and was an immediate hit with the 1950s 'jet set' including royalty, actors and socialites. The production of an open 300SL involved altering the cockpit area, where the spaceframe was redesigned to permit lower sills for improved access. At the same time the rear suspension was changed to incorporate low-pivot swing axles. The 300SL Roadster sold well for a car that cost more than a Ferrari 250GT California Spyder, and would out-live the 300SL Coupé by several years.

    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. Roadster production ceased in 1963 after 1,858 cars had been built, and today the model is both rare and highly sought after.

    This iconic, matching-numbers, left-hand drive 300SL Roadster was delivered new to Messrs O'Flaherty in Dublin, the Mercedes-Benz concessionaires for the Republic of Ireland. First registered in the UK in June 1958, it was owned by Willoughby Michael Douglas of Bourne Hall, Shanklin, Isle of Wight until August 1971. The car then had two owners in quick succession: Derek Skilton of Hooe Garage (East Sussex) Ltd followed by Sir Ralph Regnault Millais of Winchelsea, Sussex, who owned it from December 1972. In October 1973 the Mercedes-Benz passed to the next owner, Tom Walduck of Woodfield Farm, Hatfield, who kept it in dry storage for the next 38 years. The current vendor purchased the car in September 2011. An MoT on file dating from March 1974 shows the mileage at that time to be 34,474 while that issued in November 2011 records it as 34,820: a total of only 346 miles covered between 1973 and 2011.

    Soon after acquisition (at 34,884 miles) the engine, rear axle and differential were overhauled by respected marque specialist Kevin O'Keefe, the clutch renewed and other re-commissioning work carried out (see accompanying invoices totalling £33,000 for details). The engine was run in for 800 miles before being subjected to higher revs, and the oil and filter changed at 35,607 miles. Since the rebuild the car has been test driven to Angoulême and back, performing without fault. The odometer currently displays a total of 36,750 miles.
    Accompanying documentation comprises an old-style logbook (copy); two expired MoT certificates from the 1970s and one for the period November 2011-November 2012; correspondence with Hertford County Council regarding registration (October 1973); and current Swansea V5C registration document. Taxed to next July and MoT'd to November 2013, this exceptionally original, low mileage, well documented and fully roadworthy 300SL roadster is worthy of the closest inspection. There cannot be many better ways of travelling to a classic event, taking part and driving home.

Saleroom notices

  • This documents for this vehicle also include a Parts Book, Technical Manual, Workshop Manual and Book of Chassis Plates
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