16 August 1998
1956 MERCEDES-BENZ 300 SL GULLWING
Chassis No. 6500060
Engine No. 6500069
Slate grey with red leather interior and red leather fitted luggage
Engine: six cylinder, inline, 2,996cc., 240bhp at 6,100rpm; Gearbox: 4-speed manual; Suspension: independent front and rear; Brakes: hydraulic drum. Left hand drive.
When Mercedes-Benz returned to motor racing in 1952, they dominated the major long distance sports car events with futuristically styled 300 SL race cars. Considerable pressure and a guaranteed 1,000 orders from the Mercedes New York agent convinced Stuttgart to produce a street version of the 300 SL Gullwing, which they launched at the New York Motor Show to ecstatic acclaim. It closely resembled the Mercedes 300 race car except that, with all-steel bodywork, appropriate road equipment and larger doors, it was even more stunning. To resolve the carburettor location problems, it was the first production car to have Bosch direct fuel injection, with a resultant increase in power to 240bhp.
These cars were not only sensational in appearance, but had a performance that only race drivers normally experienced. It was not surprising that sports car enthusiasts were eager to buy and extract its maximum performance which exceeded 150mph. The swing axle rear suspension and drum brakes did require considerable respect when driving on the limit. Even so, these highly specialized and very expensive cars sold amazingly well and 1,400 were hand built in three years.
This immaculate Gullwing was purchased in the mid 1980's by Mr. Lee from the estate of the original owner Mr. John Gerlach, who housed the Gullwing at his summer residence on 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. The car was in excellent unrestored condition, and Mr.Lee commissioned reknowned specialist Bob Smith Coachworks to perform a complete nut an bolt, no expense spared restoration. It has since won awards at regional Mercedes-Benz meets, and most recently was awarded a first in class at the Dallas Concours d'Elegance. It is finished in a highly attractive color scheme of slate grey with red leather interior with matching luggage. The Gullwing is also fitted with the highly desireable 'Sport' Nardi flip wheel. This is the finest Gullwing Christie's has ever had the pleasure of offering - and it is priced below the cost of the restoration alone!
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