<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496

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Lot 120
From the Collection of the late Wade Carter
1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE

Sold for US$ 902,000 inc. premium
From the Collection of the late Wade Carter
1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE

Chassis no. 198.040.5500587
Engine no. 198.980.7500496

2,995cc SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Bosch Mechanical Fuel injection
240 SAE bhp at 5,800rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
4-Wheel Independent Suspension
4-Wheel Drum Brakes

*Professionally restored
*Aftermarket air conditioning
*Fitted with Rudge disc wheels
*Fitted luggage



THE MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE

If there is a single automotive design that could be called the greatest of the 1950s era, most enthusiasts would likely agree that it was the landmark 300SL coupe of 1954-57, dubbed the "Gullwing" because of its unique top-hinged doors. This door design was required because the side members that added rigidity to the 300SL's multi-tube frame passed through the area where a conventional side-hinged door opening would be placed. As with so many fascinating European cars of that period, the 300SL was built at the behest of Manhattan automotive entrepreneur and importer Max Hoffman, who, it might be said, almost single-handedly created a market for sports cars in his adopted homeland, the United States. Because of his efforts, a large percentage of 300SLs were delivered to eager buyers in the US, and the car became a favorite of movie stars and the wealthy.

The standard production Gullwing was designated the Type 190.040, and it would be the last Mercedes Benz to use a separate body and frame. It featured a welded-steel shell with light alloy doors, hood, trunk lid, firewall, and floor pans, all attached to the well-triangulated tube frame. Optional bellypans were also made of aluminum. A mere 1400 Gullwings were constructed, of which there were just 29 bodied entirely in aluminum.

Because of the shape and configuration of the Gullwing's doors and the need for some elbow room and extra storage, there was no space for retracting side glass, so a compromise was reached; the windows contained small vent panels, which could be opened a bit to help air flow to the cabin. Twin rooftop vents helped exhaust warm interior air, but it was quite a common, if startling, sight to see Gullwings driven in urban traffic with one or both doors wide open, supported by hydraulic struts, one of the earliest applications of that technology. The very wide doorsills also complicated entry and egress, so the steering wheel was hinged to allow greater legroom. Once inside, however, the driver and passenger enjoyed very comfortable seats. Performance was very respectable for a sports car of this period, with a claimed 0-60 time of less than 8 seconds and a top speed of between 140 and 160 mph, dependent on rear-axle gearing, for which there were five factory options.

The Gullwing's frame and general body shape were derived from the "Uhlenhaut Coupe", a prototype competition car created by Mercedes Benz in preparation for the Carrera Panamericana road races of the early 1950s. The production SL's drivetrain was based on the big three-liter single overhead cam inline-six that powered the factory's luxurious and costly 300 series of coupes, cabriolets, sedans, and limousines. Because the engine was quite tall, it was laid over to its right side to create a lower hood line in the new SL. This very torquey, slightly under-square engine was fitted with Bosch mechanical direct-port fuel injection and was mounted behind the front axle line to improve chassis balance. A four-speed transmission delivered power to a swing-axle rear end.

Deliveries of the Gullwing coupe began in late 1954, when, according to data assembled by "The Gullwing Group", no fewer than 167 were produced at the Mercedes-Benz factory at Unterturkheim, near Stuttgart, Germany. The following year, 855 coupes were produced, the most of any year. Production tapered off in 1956 and 1957, and by 1958 the new and greatly improved 300SL Roadster had appeared.


THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

As were almost all Gullwings, this early example was delivered in 190 Graphite Gray (other colors were available at optional extra cost) and seats trimmed in 955 Grey leather, another customer option, since the standard interior was leatherette with tartan fabric seat inserts. As a US-specification export model, it was fitted at the factory with sealed-beam headlamps, instruments for the American market including a 160mph speedometer, a can of factory Nitrocellulose lacquer paint for minor repairs, and a Becker Mexico radio, speaker, and antenna package. Tires were 6.50 x 15-inch bias-ply Dunlops. Its factory build sheet (supplied) shows a wholesale shipment date of August 24, 1955, and the car was exported to Hoffman's Mercedes Benz distributorship in New York City and thence shipped to a dealer and first purchaser.

According to a letter from 300SL expert Peter Thomas in Arizona, this car has passed through a number of owners across the western United States, among them John Calley, the well-known Hollywood producer and 300SL collector. It was finally acquired by the late Seattle-area auto dealer, amateur racer, and vintage car enthusiast Wade Carter in 1999. We are informed that at some point prior to 1975, its original Grey paint was retired in favor of a high-quality respray in bright red, the grey interior replaced with black leather, along with a set of Rudge style knock-off wheels and hubs which remain with the car today. The black interior was eventually changed again, this time to tan leather. A later owner had air conditioning installed, which helped overcome the coupe's marginal interior ventilation. After its purchase by Mr. Carter, the car received extensive mechanical and cosmetic attention. The car remained with Mr. Carter's family after his passing. Recently, it was delivered to J&L Fabrication in Seattle, Washington, for some minor servicing that included a tune-up. It previously had received a complete brake overhaul. At the time of cataloging, this Gullwing's odometer read 71,394 miles, which is believed to be original and correct.

It should be noted, that the car's engine number does not match the one listed on the factory build sheet, and the engine block appears to be from a 1957 300SL Roadster.

Supplied with two pieces of color-matching fitted luggage, this very attractive example is described as being in good running condition, and ready for vintage tours. The rising value of Gullwings is such that it might be considered a candidate for a full restoration to factory-delivered specifications.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this car is titled as a 1957 and chassis number 5500587.
Contacts
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
<i>From the Collection of the late Wade Carter</i><br /><b>1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE  </b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500587 <br />Engine no. 198.980.7500496
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