1956 MERCEDES-BENZ 300 SL GULLWING
Registration No. Not UK Registered
Chassis No. 6500308
Engine No. 6500313
White with dark blue leather interior.
Engine: six cylinder in-line, 2,996cc, bore and stroke 85mm x 88mm, single overhead camshaft, two valves per cylinder operated by rocker arms, 240bhp at 6,100rpm, Bosch direct fuel injection, dry sump lubrication; Cast-iron block, detachable light-alloy cylinder head; Gearbox: four speed all synchromesh manual, single dry plate clutch, direct acting central gearchange; Suspension: front independent by coil springs, double wishbones, anti-roll bar, telescopic shock absorbers, rear independent with coil springs and swing axles, telescopic shock absorbers; Brakes: four-wheel hydraulically-operated drum brakes, vacuum servo-assisted, Alfin drums. Left-hand drive.
When Mercedes-Benz introduced their new range of cars in 1951 it included the 3-litre six cylinder 300S model which was to become the basis of their return to motor sport in 1952. Rudi Uhlenhaut, the Competition Director, was obliged to use production components for his new sports race car and to compensate for the weight penalty he designed an ultra-light, welded spaceframe chassis with an all-alloy coupé body. To alleviate the access problem caused by the multi-tubed framework, he introduced the now famous 'Gullwing' doors, and tilted the engine 40 degrees to obtain a low bonnet line.
The 1952 racing debut was reminiscent of the pre-war domination, winning both the 24-hour Le Mans race and the gruelling Carrera Panamericana, and coming 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the Mille Miglia. These outstanding results plus the futuristic styling of the 300SL led Max Hoffman, the New York agent, to persuade Stuttgart that their specialised race cars should become a production Super Car. Initially this was discarded due to the complexity of producing a spaceframe chassis, and also the Competition Department was under extreme pressure designing a new Grand Prix contender. When confirmed orders for 1000 cars duly arrived, they changed their mind and the 1954 New York Motor Show saw the unveiling of the new 300 SL Gullwing. It closely resembled the race cars, but with all-steel bodywork and with its appropriate road equipment and larger doors was even more stunning. It was also the first production car to have Bosch direct fuel injection with a resultant increase in power to 240bhp.
This example was delivered to the USA in December 1956 in its current configuration of white with blue leather interior. Little of the car's history is known until it was purchased ten years ago in the United States, where it would have originally been supplied. It has been stored on exhibit in the collection throughout the last decade, and to our knowledge may not have been run at all during this time. On importation to the UK for the sale, Christie's has had the car checked over by a specialist engineer, it was subsequently made to run and has received an MoT certificate within the last month. Whilst this will assist the registration process, we would advise that before the car were used for long distances it be thoroughly serviced.
The Gullwing presents well, and must have been the subject of much
restoration work while in previous ownerships. Its paintwork has been
refurbished to a high standard, although now shows slight signs of use and age, and the bodywork has good shut lines and panel fit. The chrome brightwork has lost its shine slightly during storage but could be re-polished. The interior has also been renewed at some stage with constrasting dark blue leather seats, door trim and blue carpeting. Importantly it also retains its original luggage set.
These head-turning sports-cars remain extremely sought after by collectors, this example offers an entry level opportunity to own and experience the legendary Gullwing.