Mercedes 300 SL Roadster 1957 – UK

Mercedes 300 SL to dla mnie jeden z najwspanialszych klasyków spod znaku gwiazdy, tak samo w wersji Coupé, jak i z odkrytym nadwoziem. Ta pierwsza potoczną nazwę Gullwing zawdzięcza niesamowitym drzwiom, których projekt przypomina „skrzydła mewy”. Nie zagłębiając się w osiągi czy rozwiązania techniczne, które uczyniły z niego legendę sportów motorowych, jest dla mnie uosobieniem stylu i kunsztu projektantów. W wersji Roadster wóz zachował swój charakter, lecz jednocześnie stał się bardziej przyjazny w użytkowaniu – nagrzewanie kabiny nie stanowiło już problemu, a zajęcie miejsca za kierownicą przestało wymagać umiejętności gimnastycznych. Wystawiony na aukcji 300 SL wyjechał z fabryki w ’57 roku, aby trafić do South Bend w USA. Oryginalnym kolorem tego Roadstera był Hellblau (light blue). Pozostałe elementy, które zostały zmienione w samochodzie, to zegary w milach, przełożenie tylnego mostu i światło cofania. Co najważniejsze, 300 SL wciąż posiada „matching numbers”, co czyni go gratką dla kolekcjonerów. Estymowana wartość tego wspaniałego samochodu waha się pomiędzy 1-1,2 miliona funtów.

Bardzo ceniony na rynku, angielski dom aukcyjny Bonhams, 4 grudnia przeprowadzi aukcję, której przedmiotem będą ciekawe samochody klasyczne oraz klika nowszych perełek. Aukcja otrzymała nazwę „THE BOND STREET SALE”, od głównej ulicy handlowej zachodniego Londynu. Wybraliśmy klika ciekawych okazów, których opisy możecie zobaczyć na naszej stronie.


Lot 22
£1,000,000 – 1,200,000

1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
Registration no. 813 YUG
Chassis no. 198042-7500432
*Delivered new to the USA
*Left-hand drive
*Restored circa 23,000 kilometres ago
*Superb condition
Created to spearhead Mercedes-Benz’s return to competition in the post-war era, the 300 SL’s progenitor – designated 'W194′ in factory parlance – 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 family 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 was a supercar long before the word was first coined. The road car owed its existence in no small part to Max Hoffman, the New York-based, Austrian-born importer of European luxury makes, without whose vision and encouragement the factory might not have had the confidence to proceed with the project. The bulk of 300 SL production would be sold in the USA, and the model is widely credited with transforming Mercedes-Benz’s image in North America from that of a producer of well-engineered but somewhat staid luxury conveyances, to that of a purveyor of high-performance sports and GT cars.

The 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 engine produced 215bhp at 5,800rpm, and each unit was exhaustively dynamometer tested prior to final installation. A four-speed gearbox transmitted power to the hypoid bevel rear axle, while suspension was independent all round by wishbones and coil springs at the front, with swing axles and coil springs at the rear.

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 spectacular, matching numbers 300 SL Roadster left the factory on 9th December 1957 to be sent to Studebaker/Packard in South Bend, Indiana, USA. The original colour scheme was Hellblau (light blue) with white leather interior and beige hood (see data card copy on file). Other original features listed include instruments in English/miles, sealed-beam headlights, 'Made in Western Germany' plaques, Becker Mexico radio, reversing light, and a 3.89:1 ratio rear axle.

It is understood that this 300 SL Roadster enjoyed only two owners in the USA before returning to Germany in 1989 with – it is believed – a mere 33,000-or-so miles on the odometer. Its purchaser was Kaesmacher, a German classic car restoration specialist. At that time the car was re-trimmed in Cognac leather and was also fitted with European headlamps and a new black soft-top. The engine and gearbox were overhauled and other mechanical works carried out by Kaesmacher. Since the restoration’s completion only some 23,000 kilometres have been covered.

In May 2011, Kaesmacher sold the 300 SL to marque specialists HK-Engineering in Germany, who carried out numerous improvements at their workshop and serviced the car in November of that year. HK-Engineering then sold the car to Mr Ivan Radcliff Page, the well-known 300 SL Gullwing and Roadster aficionado. Mr Radcliff Page sold the Roadster to a collector in France, from whose important collection it was purchased four years ago by the current vendor, only its fourth private owner in some 50 years.

In 2012, a major check and service was carried out at HK-Engineering, and at the same time the car was treated to a bare-metal repaint in Anthracite Grey. HK-Engineering’s invoices totalling €26,632.82 are on file. Freshly serviced (by respected marque specialist, Kevin O’Keefe) and presented in generally excellent condition both mechanically and cosmetically, '7500432′ represents a rare opportunity to acquire a matching-numbers example of one of the 20th Century’s most iconic automobiles.