1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568

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Lot 157
Accompanied by both a soft top and rare and desirable hardtop
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

Sold for US$ 902,000 inc. premium
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

Chassis no. 198.042.7500568

2,996cc SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Bosch Mechanical Fuel Injection
225bhp at 5,800rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
4-Wheel Independent Suspension
4-Wheel Drum Brakes


*Subject of an $80,000 mechanical overhaul by Paul Russell & Company
*Accompanied by both a soft top and rare and desirable hardtop
*Eligible for some of the finest tours and driving events
*Sophisticated German engineering in sporting package
*One of only 1,858 300SL Roadsters produced



THE MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL ROADSTER

It's impossible to talk about the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster without first referring to the car that spawned it – the legendary 300SL 'Gullwing' coupe. Originally conceived as a racing car, the 300SL racked up victories throughout 1952, in the process capturing the imagination of America's official Mercedes-Benz importer Maximilian 'Maxi' Hoffman.

Desperate for a car to sate the desires of his upmarket clients, he eventually persuaded the Daimler-Benz board to take the 300SL from racetrack to road. The designers and engineers refused to compromise on the purity of the original, so the bodywork was still primarily crafted to reduce drag as much as possible (although rumor has it that the elegant strips over the wheelarches were no more than fashionable cosmetic touches to make the car appeal to its American audience), and the steel panels cloaked a tubular chassis frame designed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut which weighed only 82kg.

The iconic doors of the coupe were a byproduct of this chassis, which had much higher sides than usual, leaving limited vertical space for a conventional door. Production began at the Sindelfingen plant in August 1954 and over the next two and a half years it proved a phenomenal success. 1,402 were sold, despite the colossal $11,000 asking price.

By 1957, however, SL (the initials stood for Sport Leicht; Sport Light) sales were on the slide, and with the roadster body style proving popular in America -- and feedback from customers suggesting they'd like more comfort and a larger trunk -- Maxi Hoffman helped convince Mercedes-Benz that a convertible version could take over where the coupe left off.

Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in May that year, the 300SL Roadster wasn't the result of a quick fix to meet owner demands. Mercedes re-engineered the whole car, taking the opportunity to fix some niggles that afflicted the 300SL -- first and foremost the suspension. Although the double wishbone front layout was famed for its precision, the rear swing arm axle, jointed at the differential, had developed a reputation for tricky handling and sensitivity to cambers. Lowering the pivot point helped calm the 300SL's predilection for oversteer.

At the same time the fabulous 3.0-liter straight six, which featured fuel injection years ahead of its time, was boosted from 215bhp to 225bhp (torque output remained at 202lb-ft at 4,600rpm) and the chassis was redesigned with lower sills to accommodate normal swing-opening doors -- although additional strengthening was required in the lower half of the chassis, which saw the SL's weight grow from 1,310kg to 1,420kg.

Partially to increase load space and partially to create room for the folding fabric roof, the fuel tank capacity was reduced from 130 liters to 100 liters, but arguably the biggest benefit the Roadster gained over the Gullwing was superior ventilation. Due at least in part to the coupe's small in/out side windows, the 300SL Gullwing was regarded by many as tough work on long trips due to heat buildup in the cabin. Even with its roof up, the Roadster's wind-up windows allowed much better airflow through the cockpit.

By no means a poor relation to the Gullwing, the later refinements added to the Roadster made it a compelling proposition for collectors and enthusiasts despite a list price of $10,950, a ten percent increase over the Gullwing. And while the coupe had a model-run of under three years, the Roadster stayed in production until early 1963, by which time 1,858 had been built.


THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

This 300SL Roadster was ordered new by the Belgian Mercedes-Benz importer, IMA, in US specification. After its first four decades of enjoyable use, the Roadster was sent to noted 300SL specialists Paul Russell and Company of Essex, Massachusetts circa year 2000; at this time, the odometer showed only 24,151 kilometers. The master craftsmen set to work with a complete engine rebuild. Receipts from this work document various items including reconstruction of the starter, generator, fuel injection pump, and water pump. The fuel system was refreshed with the fuel tank, fuel pump and associated hoses all being restored or replaced as needed, while the cooling system was attended to with all new coolant hoses and a restored radiator. In addition to the above, a brand new wiring harness was fitted along with a new oil tank, while the power brake booster was rebuilt. In all, some $80,000 was spent to ensure the car would perform as intended.

Now finished in Fire Engine Red over tan hides, the package is topped by a black Mercedes-Benz factory hardtop. Having covered less than 100 kilometers a year since its mechanical overhaul, the Roadster has been carefully maintained with a brake service and tune-up in the last two years.

Continuing to show well today, this delightful 300SL has been well stored in a climate controlled garage since being acquired by the present owner. A nice, driver-quality example, it should make for an enjoyable entry to tours and rallies such as the California Mille, where its 1957 build year will be of paramount importance. Offering modern levels of performance and a great deal of comfort, it is little wonder that these cars are so popular today. With sporting good looks, a powerful and smooth drivetrain, and the practicality of a well-built roadster with a well-fitting soft top, roll up windows, and the optional hardtop -- not to mention an amply proportioned trunk, this red 300SL Roadster is a great example of one of Mercedes' most sought after models.

Footnotes

  • Please note that this vehicle is titled as a 1959.
Contacts
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster  Chassis no. 198.042.7500568
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