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The Audrain Concours Auction / 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster Chassis no. 198.042.8500081 Engine no. 198.980.7500725

Lot 119
1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster
30 September 2022, 16:00 EDT
Newport, Rhode Island, International Tennis Hall of Fame

US$1,100,000 - US$1,300,000

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1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster
Chassis no. 198.042.8500081
Engine no. 198.980.7500725

2,996cc SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Bosch Mechanical Fuel Injection
250bhp at 6,200rpm
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheet Independent Suspension
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes

*In single ownership for over 18 years
*Discretely updated for touring with air conditioning and hidden, modern stereo
*Matching numbers example
*Among the most iconic and best-engineered collector cars to date


Created to spearhead Mercedes-Benz's return to competition in the post-war era, the 300 SL 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 Mercedes-Benz importer for North America, Max Hoffman, believed there would be a market for a road-going version, and managed to convince the factory that such a car would be a success.

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 the highly respected American magazine Road & Track 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. Half expecting the long-awaited 300SL to provide an anti-climax, R&T were delighted to find the new car, 'far beyond our wildest expectations. In fact, we can state unequivocally that in our opinion the 300SL coupé is the ultimate in an all-round sportscar. It combines more desirable features in one streamlined package than we ever imagined or hoped would be possible. Performance? It accelerates from a dead start to 100mph in just over 17 seconds. Dual purpose? A production model 300SL can make a very acceptable showing in any type of sportscar competition. Yet the car is extremely tractable and easy to drive in traffic. Comfort? The fully enclosed 300SL is the most comfortable (and safe) high-speed 'cross-country' car built today.' Its racing parentage notwithstanding, the 300SL was and remains a thoroughly practical automobile, as civilized in city driving as it is exhilarating on the highway.

Clearly the 300SL Coupe 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 250 GT California Spider, and would out-live the 300SL Coupe by several years.


According to the Gullwing Group's Roadster Registry, this American-market 300SL was delivered new in DB50 Weiß (white) over red leather upholstery. Spending its early life on the West Coast, it was in the collection of noted collector Donald Orosco before spending time with fellow California Dave Goerlich starting in 1977. In 2000 the car was acquired by Gerard 'Jay' Hill of Kirkwood, Missouri, but service records indicate that the car remained out West—mostly in California and Scottsdale. During Mr. Hill's ownership, the Mercedes was extensively recommissioned with records on file detailing a 2001 repaint into the current DB180 Silver Metallic, a 2002 retrim in Navy Blue leather, and numerous receipts covering about 100 pages of mechanical and cosmetic service from 2000 to 2002.

In late 2002, Arizona collector Michael Hammer acquired the 300SL, owning it for about a year before selling it to Cary Robinson of Radnor, Pennsylvania in July 2003. After a brief tenure in Robinson's garage, the 300SL found a long-term home in the present ownership when it was purchased on March 9, 2004. Described at the time of acquisition as a being in excellent condition with no previous accidents, it had previously been fitted with a wood rimmed Nardi steering wheel as well as a modern AM/FM/CD headunit hidden in the glove box (with the original Becker Mexico still visible in the dash) as well as an air conditioning system discretely mounted under the dash. In the present ownership, the 300SL has been maintained by the experts at Black Horse Garage in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Today, this desirable 300SL Roadster presents in beautiful condition. A navy blue canvas Roadster top is fitted, while a second top purchased early in the current ownership remains unused and ready to be installed. Original chassis and ID plates remain intact, as do the factory ID stampings. The classic Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel is still fitted, and the original VDO instruments remain in situ. On a recent drive by a Bonhams specialist, the Roadster was found to growl to life quick and perform with gusto despite relatively sparing use in recent years. The 300SL is offered with jack, partial tool roll, partial reproduction fitted luggage set, and maintenance records.

This classic 300SL Roadster offers exquisite styling and advanced engineering for the time and would be a great car to enjoy on one of the 300SL club tours or the Colorado Grand rally. Undeniably one of the most iconic collector cars to date, now offered from 18 years of ownership, this is an opportunity not to be missed.


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