<b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295
Lot 91
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
Sold for US$ 919,600 inc. premium

Lot Details
<b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295 <b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing</b><br /> Chassis no. 198.040.5500771<br /> Engine no. 198.980.5500295
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
Chassis no. 198.040.5500771
Engine no. 198.980.5500295

427cu. in. OHV V-8 Engine
Single 4 barrel Carburetor
410bhp at 6,000rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
4-Wheel Independent Suspension
4-Wheel Disc Brakes

*Superb example of the legendary Gullwing
*Extraordinary race history spanning over a decade
*Aluminum engine and sports cam fitted at the factory
*Spectacular Paul Russell restoration
*Extensively documented with prominent ownership history


THE MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING

Instantly recognizable by virtually anyone on the planet, the immortal 300SL (for Sports Leicht) Gullwing coupe arguably competes for the title of "Greatest Sports Car of the 1950s", and surely qualifies for anyone's Top 10 list of the greatest automobiles of all time. A period favorite of wealthy celebrities, it ranks today among the most valued and collectable sports cars ever produced.

The 300SL coupe was the direct descendant of Mercedes Benz' Le Mans W194 competition coupe, conceived in 1952 and aimed at wresting the World Sportscar Championship from Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and Lancia. Chief Engineer Fritz Nallinger suggested that the company build a new two-seat sports car utilizing the strong in-line SOHC six-cylinder engine from its luxurious 300 series. Test Department manager Rudolf Uhlenhaut, having some experience with tubular chassis design, sat down with construction engineer Joseph Müller and laid out an extremely light (154 pounds) and rigid lattice-work chassis capable of accommodating the big in-line six. One major problem soon presented itself: there was no way to mount conventional doors without compromising the rigidity of the chassis. The solution was to raise the entry so that the doors cut into the roof, but that meant hinging them from the top, thus giving birth to this car's timeless signature design feature.

The 300SL's first racing trial was the 1952 Mille Miglia, where the cars finished second and forth. Next came the Grand Prix of Berne, where a quartet of 300SLs took the start and swept the top three positions. Then came Le Mans, where after the grueling 24-hour epic, a pair of 300SLs had finished in the top two positions... and were then driven back to the factory! In 1955, Mercedes would go on an incredible winning streak which included the famous Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson victory where a record average speed of just under a hundred miles an hour was set.

The 300SL Gullwing in final form was unveiled at the New York International Motor Sports Show in early February, 1954, and actual production began that fall. The new coupe was slightly changed in appearance from the racing coupes and featured Bosch direct fuel injection. It was claimed by the factory, "the fastest German production sports car".

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

Although this Gullwing is one of 1,100 production cars built on the blueprint of the race model – it has an outstanding race history of its own.

The Gullwing was completed at the factory on January 10th, 1955. The car was ordered in the gorgeous shade of DB 534 red, over a 953 black interior. The formative years of the car are undocumented, but early records suggest that this Gullwing was driven in race events right out of the gate – as it was shipped back to Stuttgart in the 60s where it received a new aluminum motor complete with sports cam. Jump to November, 1978, and the car appeared in an advertisement in Hemmings Motor News offered for $30,000 – completely restored in fire engine red with black interior and only 13,000 miles on the new aluminum motor. Mr. John Olson, editor and publisher of the SL Market Letter in Minneapolis, Minnesota, snapped up the car and a new era began.

In 1982, Olson entered the car in the 3,000 mile road rally from Boston to San Diego, called the Four Ball Rally. Apparently averaging a 'sedate' 65 miles an hour, the 27-year-old classic – the oldest car in the field - finished in 47 hours. The following year the car came in 3rd in the Coast to Coast Cannonball, a strenuous feat which resulted in Olson having the Gullwing overhauled in April, 1984, under the watchful eye of Paul Russell at Gullwing Service Co. in Essex, Massachusetts. With all systems fully addressed, it was off to the races again.

In 1986, Olson drove the car to 2nd place in a field of thirty 300 SLs at Laguna Seca, and then attended the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, which was honoring the Mercedes-Benz marque that particular year. In his final racing foray, Olson entered his Gullwing into the Mille Miglia of 1987 and upon completion extended his European tour in Stuttgart where he presented the car at the annual Mercedes meet. Finally, Olson decided it was time to hang up his racing goggles and in 1988 he let the car go to Alex Dearborn of Topfield, Massachusetts, with no small amount of nostalgia and reluctance. In a letter scripted in Olson's superb penmanship (and included in the documents provided herewith) he tells Dearborn that over the past decade he spent over $35,000 on the mechanicals to draw out the car's 'guts and vinegar'. He goes on to say, "This car has soul, but don't be afraid of it. The harder you drive it, the more it loves you."

Dearborn immediately put this advice to the test and drove the Gullwing to first place overall at the Road America 300 SL Grand Prix in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The following year the car was treated to a repaint – again in fire engine red – and was re-detailed, before entering the Historic Exhibition Race at Lime Rock, Connecticut, in 1989. According to magazine clippings, Dearborn and his Gullwing led the field for most of the race, but was out-maneuvered towards the end by another red Gullwing driven by Joe Tompkin. Crowds at the finish line erupted at the Mercedes one-two finish, reminiscent of the team victories celebrated by the factory race teams of the 1950s.

In 1990, Dearborn sold the car into a major East Coast collection, and thenceforth it was never raced again. Since its track days, the Gullwing has been routinely maintained and carefully stored by the collector and current owner – thus rendering the car in its current excellent condition. The paint is very good for a car restored almost 40 years ago, the engine bay is clean and tidy, and the interior exhibits a comfortable patina of careful use.

Accompanying the 1955 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing is an extensive portfolio of documentation: race history, advertisements, judging record sheets, service invoices, handwritten correspondence and clippings from several magazines, including Victory Lane and Vintage Motorsports. Maps of racing routes and photographs of the car en route add important historical gravitas and color to this extraordinary Gullwing's racing history. This car has it all – it is collectible, highly desirable, a legend of the Mercedes line and a thoroughbred racing champion of the Golden Years of 1950s motor racing. It's beautiful, iconic, suited up and ready for its next racing adventure at the hands of a worthy companion.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this car is fitted with an Aluminum 2,996cc SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine with Bosch Mechanical Fuel Injection which makes 250bhp at 6,200rpm. The car is fitted with 4-Wheel Drum Brakes. Also note, this vehicle is titled under chassis no. 5500771.
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