New York - ICONS

6 December 2017

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing

  • Chassis no. 198.040.5500593
  • Engine no. 198.980.5500631
  • Body no. 198.040.5500573

Please note that Internet bidding is not available for this lot. Interested parties that are unable to attend the sale may register to bid by telephone or place a commission bid online at rmsothebys.com.

  • The sports car, eternally redefined as a status symbol
  • Well-documented restoration by Jerry Hjeltness
  • Becker Mexico radio, fitted luggage, tool roll, and belly pans
  • Retains its original engine


The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing was so many, many things: an engineering tour de force, a genuine racing car for the open road, and one of the world’s fastest automobiles of its era. What made it most memorable, however, was it was the first sports car to be a genuine, recognizable status symbol, just as a Tiffany diamond or Cartier watch instantly identifies its possessor as a person of wealth, means, and impeccable taste. Its appeal transcended traditional barriers between old and new money simply because everyone who saw one wanted one.

Clark Gable and Juan Peron; Sophia Loren and Pat Boone; the Aga Khan and Briggs Cunningham–whether you were born to royalty or had ascended to it on your own, the 300 SL was the must-have accessory of the mid-1950s. Throwing open one of the iconic gullwing doors meant more than arriving to the party; it meant that one had arrived in the world.

The Gullwing offered here was completed 5 August 1955 and shipped to the distributors in New York 20 days thereafter wearing its original color combination of Medium Blue (350) over Light Gray leather interior (955). It later made its way over the Atlantic to England, where it was offered for sale in June 1969 by R.B. Cole of Beckham, Kent, whose name appears in its entry in both the Eric LeMoine and Gull Wing Group Registers.

Subsequently the car made its way back to the United States and was acquired by Craig McFarland of Carmel, California, in 1989. Mr. McFarland commissioned the 300 SL’s restoration by the respected Jerry Hjeltness of Hjeltness Restorations in Escondido. The project would last the next two years, and remarkably detailed records of that work accompany the car to this day—listing everything down to the purchase of a new pair of coveralls for the painter!

The body was restored with proper leaded seams as original, preserving much of the original sheet metal with the exceptions of the rocker panels and repairs to the quarter panels. Fire Brigade Red—one of the most famous 300 SL colors—was chosen and carefully applied using long-lasting urethane finish. The engine was properly rebuilt and great attention was paid to returning all aspects of the car’s mechanical systems to their correct original condition.

Finalizing the restoration were the installation of a proper Becker Mexico radio and the creation of two pieces of correct fitted luggage by the Gullwing Service Company of Essex, Massachusetts, to original patterns in leather matching the new interior. Further, the car—which has been well preserved and maintained since completion of the work—is offered with correct tools and a tool bag acquired for the car during the restoration, as well as aluminum belly pans, a reproduction instruction manual for the model, and a copy of its factory data card.

A well-maintained, quality restoration in among the most instantly recognizable hues for the model, this Gullwing allows a new owner to join the rarefied ranks of 300 SL owners, past and present—a diverse club of trendsetters, heads of state, and captains of industry, united by one uniquely potent symbol of success.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more