<b>1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 198.040.5500668<br />Engine no. 198.980.5500707

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1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe

Sold for US$ 1,352,500 inc. premium, Quail Lodge Auction 2019

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1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe
Chassis no. 198.040.5500668
Engine no. 198.980.5500707

2,996cc SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Bosch Mechanical Fuel Injection
240bhp at 6,100rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
4-Wheel Independent Suspension
4-Wheel Drum Brakes

*In single-family ownership for 57 years
*Superb, nut-and-bolt restoration to factory specifications
*Matching numbers and retaining original coachwork
*Well-documented example, eligible for the finest events Globally


Instantly recognizable not only by automobile buffs, but 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, which were dominating post-war endurance racing. Mercedes Benz historian W. Robert Nitzke writes that company management wanted to jump back into Grand Prix racing, where it had been so successful before the war, but lacked the time necessary to design, build, and develop a new single-seater for the 1954 season. Instead, 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. Because the engine and drivetrain were relatively heavy, the chassis would have to be extremely light. 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 Kling finished second to Giovanni Bracco's open Ferrari, while Rudolf Caracciola was fourth, the two Gullwings being split by a Lancia. The third Coupe had gone off the road early in the grueling contest. Next came the Grand Prix of Berne, where a quartet of 300SLs took the start and swept the top three positions, Caracciola having crashed in what would prove to be his last race.

Then came Le Mans, where Uhlenhaut struck fear into the competition by bringing an SL coupe fitted with a hand-operated air brake mounted on the roof. While that particular car was not raced, Mercedes would tuck the idea in its pocket for future use. 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!

Mercedes Benz sat out the 1953 and 1954 sports car seasons, concentrating instead on developing its new Grand Prix car. But, the SLs weren't done. they reappeared in 1955 as the airbrake-equipped 300SLR, utilizing that feature and numerous more of the advancements were successfully tested on the company's Formula One racing cars. The year would bring triumph and tragedy: 300SLRs winning at Buenos Aires, the incredibly difficult Mille Miglia—where Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson won at a record average speed of just under a hundred miles an hour—the Nurburgring, Spa, Zandvoort, Aintree, Kristianstad, Monza, Dundrod, and Sicily's Targa Florio. The only setback, and one that would have devastating consequences, occurred at Le Mans, where team driver Pierre Levegh and more than 80 spectators died in one of racing's worst accidents, prompting Mercedes Benz to withdraw from racing for many years.

New York imported auto entrepreneur Max Hoffman, credited with urging Mercedes Benz to build a production sports car based on the 300SL racing car. 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. This prompted the factory to claim it was, "the fastest German production sports car." Between 1954 and 1957, a total of 1,400 Gullwings were delivered to eager purchasers, and in 1957, the elegant and improved 300SL Roadster appeared. These proved to be even more successful from a sales standpoint, with 1,858 units produced.


Completed August 24th and shipped on August 26th of 1955 to Mercedes-Benz Distributors of Manhattan, New York, 300SL Gullwing chassis number 5500668 was a special-order vehicle born in DB 50 White with 1079 Red Leather. Hubert Martin Cook of Dallas, Texas bought this Gullwing new in 1955. Cook would go on to own and maintain the Mercedes until 2012, a 57-year ownership tenure characterized by an exceptional level of care and meticulous record keeping.

Mr. Cook, Regional Director of The Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) and one of the very early members of the Gull Wing Group, was the very definition of a "300SL enthusiast". At the 3rd annual convention of the Gull Wing Group, which coincided with the 10th anniversary of the founding of the organization by Ernie Spitzer in 1961, 24 Gullwings and 5 Roadsters were lined up with the San Francisco Bay as the backdrop. One of them was Hubert Cook's prized Gullwing, chassis 5500668 offered here. Mr. Cook drove his Mercedes all the way from Dallas, Texas, the longest distance of any of the 29 300SL owners at the convention, a telling gesture of commitment indicative of his love for the iconic Gullwing. At the conclusion of the convention, Mr. Cook was able to take two Gullwings home, the one he drove 1,700 miles from Texas to reach California, and the 1/12 scale Renwal model kit he won while there. The Gullwing model remains with the car to this day, unopened as a memento.

Hubert Cook would own Gullwing 5500668 until his passing in 2007. At that time, his son, William Robb Cook, was entrusted with taking the car into the future carrying on the Cook Gullwing legacy. The 300SL was a prized possession of the Cook family for nearly 57 years (52 years with Hubert and 5 years with his son William), residing for the entire time in Dallas, Texas.

The second owner of 5500668, (a private Texas based collector), purchased the Gullwing from William Cook in December 2012 with 66,000 original miles. At the time of purchase, the car was dressed in DB 190 Graphite Grey over Red Leather upholstery, an appearance the car had maintained since the 1970's when Hubert Cook had done an earlier cosmetic restoration of the car.

Wanting the very best and most authentic of 300SL experiences, the car was treated to a three-year comprehensive "body-off" restoration handled by Mercedes-Benz expert Bjorn Nordemo of Sports Leicht Restorations in West End, North Carolina. Between 2013 and 2016, the car was brought back to its original colors of DB 50 White with 1079 Red Leather Interior as per the Mercedes-Benz factory build documents. The fully documented (over 1000 photos plus over 43 pages of detailed work receipts) and meticulously implemented restoration work completed by Nordemo and Sports Leicht Restorations is part of a stunning 300SL package combining exceptional long term original ownership history, thorough record keeping and a finished car fit for the show field or the open road...a fitting tribute to the legacy Mercedes-Benz and Hubert Cook began in the 1950's.

Since completion of the restoration in 2016, the Gullwing has been driven to the tune of less than 300 hundred miles. The one and only time it was shown publicly, at the 2016 Pinehurst Concours d'Elegance, it won the Mercedes-Benz Club of America (MBCA) Award of Excellence.

As a testament to a lifetime of true enthusiast care, the chassis, engine, body, transmission and axle numbers all match the factory build sheet. All other parts of the Gullwing, including the belly pans and concave grill, have been fully restored to complete a 300SL of excellent quality.

This exquisitely restored, concours quality 300SL Gullwing is a true example of exceptionalism within the iconic 300SL line of Mercedes-Benz. Rarely does one get the opportunity to own a car that has been treated to such devoted long-term ownership from new as this Mercedes has been the beneficiary of. The car today is in superb restored show quality condition and needs nothing more than to be enjoyed and well kept.
Auction information

This auction has not been published. Catalogs are usually available four weeks before the auction. If you are interested in consigning property, the last consignment date for this auction is 13 Jun 2020