1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300 SL GULLWING COUPE
Silver with red leather interior
Engine: six cylinder, in line, 2,996cc, 240bhp at 5,800rpm ; Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: independent front and rear; Brakes: hydraulic drum. Left hand drive.
If ever there was a case of a concept "dream car" becoming reality, then the Gullwing was it. Unlike some other designers' whims that appear at motor shows, the 300 SL was in fact intended solely as a competition car. It created such a sensation however, that Daimler-Benz decided to capitalise on its impact and build it as a production car. The factory had been through a difficult dreary phase and longed to rekindle some of the glamor of its road and circuit cars of the 1930s.
Rudolf Uhlenhaut witnessed what Jaguar could do with a "saloon car engine in a sports car" at Le Mans and recommended that Daimler-Benz should do the same. The overhead cam 300 saloon had recently appeared, and its engine was converted to dry sump lubrication and fuel injection. A multi-tubular space frame chassis weighing a mere 50kg was constructed as a foundation for the bodywork. The original Gullwing, so known because of its roof-opening doors, came first and second at Le Mans in 1952, running on carburettors giving a lower power output. The production cars ran from 1954 to 1957, during which time 1,400 were built, followed by a further 1,858 open roadsters between 1957 and 1963. The advanced engineering utilizing a tubular space frame, coupled with the impressive 150mph performance from the new fuel-injected engine, made the 300 SL one of the finest sports cars of its time.
In May 1955 this Gullwing was imported new to the USA and sold through a Californian Mercedes-Benz agent to its first owner, a Mr Jules Stein of Beverly Hills. It was always a Rudge wheeled example and still retains its original engine. After a number of years in California, the car moved to the Connecticut area. This Gullwing was cosmetically restored by Hibernia Auto Restorations, New Jersey in 1988. At that time the engine was not in need of restoration. It was then sold at auction in 1989 and went out to its new owners in Japan. It would appear the car was used very sparingly overseas and the car returned to California in 1995. Last year, specialist Steve Marx had flushed out the fuel tank, cleaned the injection system and serviced the brakes and brake booster. In our opinion, the car ran very well on a recent outing, however, we suspect the choke and injectors would benefit from a little more work to improve the cold running of the car. The red leather upholstery was probably replaced in 1988 and is in very good condition, while the sill upholstery looks to be original. The chrome is good and the silver paintwork is highly presentable, the only blemishes noted were a scuff mark on the trunk and a nick on the hood. Both the engine bay and the underneath of the vehicle also have a clean and well restored appearance. There is a radio antenna and speakers but no radio currently fitted. More importantly, this car retains its belly pans and comes with the highly desirable Rudge knock off wheels.