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Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster 1957

Description

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster 1957

Chassis no. 198042-7500328
Engine no. 198980-7500345

* Delivered new to the USA
* Matching numbers
* Ownership history known since 1970
* Registered in Norway, EU customs paid

Created to spearhead Mercedes-Benz's return to competition in the post-war era, the 300 SL debuted in the 1952 Mille Miglia, finishing 2nd and 4th overall. Wins in the Carrera Pan-Americana and at Le Mans followed, and the 300 SL was on its way to becoming part of motor sporting legend. The first racers were open-topped but before the '52 season's end the distinctive gull-wing doored Coupé had appeared. Unusually high sills were a feature of the multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, and while access was not a problem of the open car, the adoption of coupé bodywork required innovative thinking - hence the gull-wing doors. 

Launched in 1954, the production 300 SL retained the spaceframe chassis of the racer and was powered by a 2,996cc, overhead-camshaft, inline six canted at 45 degrees to achieve a lower, more aerodynamic bonnet line. Using innovative direct fuel injection, this state-of-the-art power unit produced 215bhp at 5,800rpm. A four-speed gearbox transmitted power to the hypoid bevel rear axle. Suspension was independent all round by wishbones and coil springs at the front, with swing axles and coil springs at the rear. It was, arguably, the world's first supercar.

Tested by Road & Track magazine in 1955, the 300 SL accelerated from 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds, going on to achieve a top speed of 140mph - outstanding figures for its day. Clearly the 300 SL Coupé would be a hard act to follow yet the Roadster version, introduced just three years later, succeeded in bettering its closed cousin's already exemplary road manners. Conventionally doored, the 300 SL Roadster was first exhibited at the Geneva Salon in May 1957 and would outlive the Coupé by several years. The production of an open 300 SL involved altering the cockpit area, where the spaceframe was redesigned to permit lower sills for improved access. At the same time the rear suspension was changed to incorporate low-pivot swing axles. 

The Roadster's neutral steering characteristics received fulsome praise from Road & Track in its 1958 road test. 'With the low-pivot rear suspension and more adhesive tyres, the car handles beautifully under all conditions. This is a tremendous improvement over the hardtop models, which had a tendency to oversteer rather violently if pressed too hard.' A 0-60mph time of 7.0 seconds and a top speed of 130mph were recorded, making the 300 SL Roadster one of the fastest convertibles of its time. R&T concluded: 'There is no doubt that the 300 SL roadster is a truly great dual-purpose sportscar, equally at home in traffic and the open road, or on the track,' words that remain equally true today. 

This particular 300 SL roadster was sold new in the USA via Studebaker Packard, who were Mercedes-Benz agents, and was delivered fitted with sealed-beam headlights, Becker Mexico radio, and the optional lower-than-standard rear axle ratio. The original colour scheme was silver-grey metallic with blue leather interior.

The US history starts on the 7th April 1970 with a letter from Stephen Muethe stating he has just purchased the car from Leland J Dysant. A resident of Dallas, Texas, Mr Muethe kept the Mercedes until April 1976 when it passed to one D Luster in Michigan. The immediately preceding owner's late father bought the car in the USA on 28th April 1988. There are Californian registration plates with the documentation, bearing a road tax stamp from 1986, however there is no trace of any Californian owner. It seems probable that this is where the car was purchased. 

When the car arrived in Norway in April 1988, its owner entered the recorded mileage of 6,030 in his personal logbook (on file). The last entry (made in 2006) records the mileage as 12,350, representing a total of 6,320 miles covered in 18 years. The current odometer reading at time of cataloguing was is 13,267, though it should be emphasised that it is not known if this is the distance travelled from new. The Mercedes was acquired by the current vendor in 2014, since when it has formed part of an important private collection in Denmark. 

Accompanying history consists of the aforementioned items; US documents and correspondence; Norwegian registration papers; and a copy of the original Mercedes-Benz Datenkarte. Described as in excellent order, the car also comes with several instruction manuals and other factory publications.

SELLER

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster 1957

PRICE

Sold for €897,000

Specifications

  • Model: Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
  • Year: 1957
  • Coachbuilder: Mercedes-Benz
  • Designer: Rudolf Uhlenhaut
  • Nr produced: 1858
  • Seller: Bonhams
  • Country: Italy
  • Contact: www.bonhams.com
  • Auction: The PADUA AUCTION
  • Auction date: 28 October 2017
  • Ad creation date: 20 October 2017
  • Tags: 1957, Bonhams, Mercedes-Benz, roadster, Rudolf Uhlenhaut

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