1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé  Chassis no. 6500287

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Lot 529
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé
Chassis no. 6500287

Sold for US$ 430,500 inc. premium
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé
Chassis no. 6500287
“When it was first announced by Mercedes-Benz, the production 300SL Coupé was a startling car built to the German concern’s customarily startling standards, but above all what left the general public most open-mouthed about the new car was its upward-opening Gullwing doors…!” – Motors, 1963.

Mercedes-Benz returned to post-war competition in 1952, fielding two of its new 300SL (W194) sportscars in the Mille Miglia. The pair finishing a creditable second and fourth overall in this most difficult of events and this promising start was followed up by a win in the challenging Carrera PanAmericana. 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 retained the spaceframe chassis and lightweight aluminum-alloy bodywork of the W194 racer while its mechanical underpinnings, like the latter’s, owed much to the contemporary Mercedes-Benz 300 luxury saloon. A 2,996cc overhead-camshaft inline six, the 300SL’s 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.

A production 300SL (W198) was tested by Road & Track magazine in 1955, accelerating from 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds on its way to a top speed of 140mph. 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.”

A 300SL roadster featuring conventional doors was first exhibited at the Geneva Salon in May 1957 and, although built in greater numbers, has never matched the immortal Gullwing for desirability. Its racing parentage notwithstanding, the 300SL remains a thoroughly practical car, as civilized in city traffic as it is exhilarating on the autostrada. By the time 300SL Coupé production ceased in 1957, some 1,400 examples had found customers. Today the model is both rare and most sought after.

This 300SL Gullwing, chassis number ‘6500287’, was sold new to first owner Gus Stallings of Phoenix, Arizona. Its next owner was William C Carman of Tempe, Arizona (a member of the Gullwing Group) who drove the car frequently before placing it in storage. Dr L Philip Lutfy purchased the car from Mr Carman in March 1986 and commissioned Bill Richardson of Richardson Restoration & Machine Werks of Scottsdale, Arizona to undertake a complete restoration. In a letter (copy available) Bill Richardson states that he had known the Carman 300SL to be in excellent, rust free and accident free condition. Richardson was entrusted with the mechanical rebuild and final reassembly. The rebuild included a complete overhaul of the engine with new original Mahle pistons, new intake valves, new valve guides, new standard rods and main bearings, polished journals and Magnafluxed crankshaft. A full list of work carried out is available.

The car was sent to Lon Krueger at Sun Valley Classics, Tempe for paint (it required no body refurbishment as Lon Krueger had already repainted the car for Carman). Dr Lutfy had it repainted red. The interior was re-trimmed by Chris Hawkins of VIP Interiors in Tempe, while the brightwork was re-chromed by Christenson Plating in Los Angeles. The car was reassembled by Richardson and prepared for sale in January 1987 when it was purchased by Joe Masin.

Its next recorded owner is Horst W Nestle, who shipped the car to Europe where it was registered in England ‘RFF 432’ in August 1994 (copy UK V5 registration document available). Andreas Christophidis of Aichtal, Germany is on record as servicing the car in Europe. The current owner purchased the car on 18th October 1999. The accompanying Commonwealth of Massachusetts Certificate of Title records the mileage at this time as 2,957 miles, which may well have been the distance covered since restoration, while the total currently stands at circa 3,065 miles.

While in the present owner’s care this 300SL has been maintained by Paul Russell & Company of Essex, Massachusetts and comes with detailed invoices relating to work undertaken during 1999/2000 (far too extensive to list fully here but including a comprehensive brake system overhaul, wheel refurbishment and new exhaust system) totaling some $33,000. '6500287' benefits from an air conditioning system, discreetly concealed, allowing for comfortable, warm weathered touring or rallying. This well maintained 300SL is offered complete with owner’s manual, two-piece luggage set, assorted correspondence and copy Gullwing Register entry.
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé  Chassis no. 6500287
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé  Chassis no. 6500287
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé  Chassis no. 6500287
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé  Chassis no. 6500287
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé  Chassis no. 6500287
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé  Chassis no. 6500287
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé  Chassis no. 6500287
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