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Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing 1955


1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL 'Gullwing' Coupé

Chassis no.

Unique and in Concours Condition

•Full ownership history known

•New factory-supplied aluminium engine block, cylinder head, and gearbox installed in 1973

•Full 'last nut and bolt' restoration by Cochera, finished in November 2018 

•HK-Engineering Improvements for reliable daily use: front disc brake conversion, electronic ignition, and improved and more reliable fuel system (changes reversible and original parts available)

•Extensively campaigned


In 1973, this 300 SL Gullwing was fitted with a rare and ultra-desirable new aluminium engine (manufactured in 1965) together with a new cylinder head (1968) and a new gearbox (1970). 

It only covered 90,851 kilometres since 1973 and was fully restored between May 2014 and November 2018. 

This car was supplied new on 22nd of September 1955 to Mercedes¬-Benz Distributors USA of New York City and was delivered finished in red with a black leather interior. Factory-fitted options included high-gloss paintwork; instruments with English inscriptions; sealed-beam headlights; bumpers equipped with horns; right door with door-lock; and windscreen washing system. The car was sold to the first owner, a Mr Heckler of Springfield, Ohio, who kept it until 1972. 

On 8th March 1972, the Gullwing was sold to Mr E von Fragstein of Dayton, Ohio, who re-import the car into Germany via his brother, Mr N von Fragstein of Mülheim, on 18th August 1973. It was then sold to Mr Berthold Rückwarth of Bielefeld, Germany. 

When Mr Rückwarth acquired the car, it was still in its original livery, but he made the decision to repaint it in the 'standard' 300 SL colour, metallic silver grey (DB 180). On 5th November 1973, the original engine (number '198.980.55.00792') was scrapped and replaced with a new factory aluminium engine manufactured in 1965, two years after the end of 300 SL production. The new block was delivered with no identification plates and no stamps in the usual places. These aluminium blocks were 44kg lighter than the cast-iron original type; Mercedes-Benz's race-team director Rudolf Uhlenhaut had introduced the alloy blocks for competition use in 1952, and the last 210 300 SL Roadsters (built during 1962 and 1963) received these lighter engines. 

The new aluminium engine block, manufactured on 22nd September 1965, was stamped with the correct '198.982' number prefix and fitted with a specific plate stamped: 'Original Mercedes-Benz Tauschaggregat, Teil-Nr. 198 010 1200 / 80, Aggregat Nr. 365984'. The cylinder head (manufactured on 10th April 1968) was replaced also, as was the gearbox (manufactured on 21st May 1970). It too received a specific plate stamped: 'Original Mercedes-Benz Tauschaggregat, Teil¬-Nr. 198 260 0704 / 80, Aggregat Nr. 140585'. This engine block was certainly one of the last available new from the factory and is not a reconditioned unit from the 210 manufactured between 1962 and 1963. Not only is this engine newer and much lighter, it is also more powerful, producing 240bhp at 6,000rpm courtesy of the NSL or Sports camshaft, as well as numerous other improvements that characterise the last engines built. 

The foregoing works were carried out by the Daimler-Benz subsidiary in Bielefeld, formerly (until April 1973) Kirstein & Sauer GmbH, Herforder Str. 273, 4800 Bielefeld. After these replacements, the odometer was reset and Mr Rückwarth covered a mere 10,000 kilometres in his 300 SL over the course of the next 31 years. 

In spring of 2004, Mr Axel Schutte of Oerlinghausen in Germany became the car's next owner. He decided to commission a full mechanical overhaul because the Gullwing was going to participate in that year's edition of the 'Mille Miglia Storica'; its driver would be Mr Volker Stauch, formerly Managing Director of Daimler Fellbach, and the co-driver the well-known German industrialist, Mr August Oetker. The car completed the 1,600-kilometre race without any problems (see book on the 2004 'Mille Miglia Storica'). 

On 21st March 2007, the car was registered by Mr Jörg Pilawa from Hamburg, a well¬ known German TV star, and later, on 16th February 2010, it was registered in the United Kingdom by a French collector, Mr Gerard Molins. The current owner, a Franco-Spanish collector, bought the Mercedes on 21st May 2013 with 76,884 kilometres recorded on the odometer. He then drove the car for approximately 14,000 kilometres before commissioning a mechanical and electrical restoration in 2014 followed by a full frame-off restoration to concours condition in 2016. Completed in November 2018, this full frame-off refurbishment was entrusted to Cochera, the well-known Mercedes-Benz classics specialists in Madrid, Spain, a company used to working for specialist dealers and private owners in Germany. 

The car was completely dismantled and catalogued with photographs (more than 1,600), while the body was placed on a rotisserie for manual body sanding and minor shaping corrections, which were followed by a deep repaint in Graphite Grey (DB 190). The frame was taken down to bare metal and properly epoxy-coated, and the suspension, brakes, and electrical systems rebuilt as needed. The engine and transmission were removed, disassembled, and rebuilt with many parts sourced from Daimler AG, HK-Engineering, and Kienle in Germany. The interior was re-upholstered in contrasting tan leather, while a new Karl Baisch two-piece leather luggage set in yellow/tan was sourced. A detailed description of the 4,350-hour restoration process is available together with all invoices, photographs, videos, etc. (perusal recommended). 

HK-Engineering provided a complete front disc brakes kit, while other reversible upgrades include electronic ignition, an improved fuel system; Nardi steering wheel; additional headlights; fire extinguisher; support for a Halda Twin Master or equivalent and two 'vintage' chronometers. Late Rudge wheels were fitted, circa 2007. The bumpers are available, but the owner prefers the more aggressive look the car has without them. Where original parts have been removed they have been preserved and are included in the sale. 

The car also comes with a set of tools; Daimler-Benz Data Card (copy); original Instruction Manual; original Type 300 SL sales brochure; Gullwing Group technical tips binder; FIVA card; and book of the 2004 'Mille Miglia Storica' with pictures of the car. Currently registered in France (where it no longer has to pass the Contrôle Technique), the car also comes with copies of its previous UK and German registration documents. 

Events attended in recent years include the following:

Flying Stars exhibition at Mercedes-Benz's Paris showroom (2013)

Urban Tour Baden Württemberg, Madrid, Spain (2014)

Concours Arts et Elegance Richard Mille, Chantilly, France (2014)

Spain Rally FIA (2015, class winner)

Concours d'Elegance Autobello, Madrid, Spain (2015) 

Ennstal Classic Rally, Austria (2015)

Classic Auto, Madrid, Spain (2016) 

ING Ardenne Roads Rally, Belgium (2016) 

Concours d'Elegance Suisse, Coppet, Switzerland (2016)

A wonderful opportunity to own what is probably the only Gullwing in the world fitted with a new factory-supplied aluminium engine.



Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing 1955


Sold for € 1,207,500 inc. premium


  • Model: Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing
  • Year: 1955
  • Coachbuilder: Mercedes-Benz
  • Designer: Rudolf Uhlenhaut
  • Production nr.: 1,400
  • Seller: Bonhams
  • Country: France
  • Contact: www.bonhams.com
  • Auction: BONHAMS Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais 7-2-2019
  • Auction date: 07 February 2019
  • Tags: 1955, Bonhams, Mercedes-Benz, Rudolf Uhlenhaut

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