Villa Erba

23 May 2015

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Lot 126

1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

  • Chassis no. 198.042.8500091
  • Engine no. 198.980.7500716
  • Body no. 198.042.7500647

Sold for €952.000


225 bhp (DIN), 240 bhp (SAE), 2,996 cc SOHC inline six-cylinder engine with Bosch mechanical fuel injection, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with upper and lower A-arms and coil springs, independent rear suspension with coil springs and swing axles, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,400 mm

  • Matching-numbers example
  • Stunning colour combination
  • Matching rare factory removable hardtop


There was no doubt that Mercedes-Benz had a hit on their hands with their spectacular 300 SL Gullwing, as it would become known. The car’s looks, performance, and brilliant engineering captivated the automotive world, and it proved to be a runaway success for Mercedes-Benz. As production was soon coming to an end for the iconic 300 SL Coupé, the marque grew more eager to add a convertible version to its line-up.

A prototype of this new model was first spotted by German magazine Auto, Motor und Sport at Stuttgart in the summer of 1956, and the production model would later debut at the 1957 Geneva Motor Show. By the end of that year, the final 70 of the 1,400 Coupés and the first 618 of the Roadsters were assembled.

Along with a convertible top, the 300 SL brought a host of advancements to the already state-of-the-art platform. The central section of the 300 SL’s space-frame chassis was lowered, and smaller sills and enlarged doors were added to improve entrance and egress. Its strength was maintained, nonetheless, with the addition of diagonal struts bracing the lowered side sections to the rear tubular members. The suspension was also revised to allow for a more comfortable ride and improved handling. At the rear, the spare tyre was repositioned below the boot floor, necessitating a smaller fuel tank but also maintaining reasonable luggage space. Even though these revisions added some 250 pounds, the majority of which were associated with the convertible top and its mechanisms, the car remained an excellent performer, with a factory-claimed 137-mph top speed.

Just like the 300 SL Gullwing, the Roadster proved to be the vehicle of choice for those with brilliant taste in aesthetics and cutting-edge engineering. As such, many wound up in the garages of celebrities, racing drivers, and other financially successful individuals. With a list price of $11,000, ownership of a 300 SL was a dream to most when the car was new, and to those with the funds to spare, the car was worth every penny. To those looking to make a statement with the purchase of a new car, there was simply no better option.

The dramatic Roadster offered here, chassis number 198.042.8500091, is believed to have been originally delivered to the United States, as noted by its U.S.-style sealed-beam headlights, and it was then subsequently brought to the United Kingdom in the mid-1980s. It has been a resident of the UK for the majority of its life and was registered with license plates 660 EXD.

In more recent ownership, the car was refinished in Anthracite Metallic (DB 172) with black leather, and it is still equipped with its correct sealed-beam head- and tail-lights, as well as U.S.-specification instrumentation. According to a previous owner, it has been well-maintained and improved on with regular servicing and maintenance, which has been carried out by such specialists as O’Keefe Restorations and Gordon Dale. The owner also noted that the rear axle, injection pump, and injectors were rebuilt; the gearbox was rebuilt with new bearings; and a new high-capacity aluminium radiator was installed. The car is still fitted with an original hardtop, which is painted to match the stunning body colour.

This car is an excellent 300 SL to drive and enjoy. It is in handsome overall order, and it benefits from one of the best possible colour combinations, as well as long-term UK ownership. As such, it will be spectacular either on display or on the road.



225 cv DIN, 240 cv SAE, motore sei cilindri in lina da 2.996 cc con singolo albero a camme in testa e iniezione meccanica Bosch, cambio manuale a quattro velocità, sospensioni indipendenti a doppi triangoli deformabili e molle elicoidali e posteriori a bracci oscillanti trasversali con molle elicoidali e barre antirollio e freni a tamburo a comando idraulico su tutte e quattro le ruote. Passo: 2.400 mm

• Esemplare matching numbers
• Bellissima combinazione di colori
• Hardtop orginale

Nessuno dubitò che la Mercedes avesse in mano un successo garantito con la spettacolare 300 SL Ali di Gabbiano, nome con cui diverrà famosa. Il suo design, le sue prestazioni e la tecnica eccezionale catturarono l'immaginazione del mondo automotive, rivelando il successo immediato per la Mercedes-Benz. Quando la produzione dell'iconica 300 SL Coupé si avviava al termine, il Costruttore volle aggiungere alla gamma una versione convertibile.

Un prototipo di questo nuovo modello fu presentato per la prima volta dal giornale tedesco Auto, Motor und Sport nei paraggi di Stoccarda nell'estate 1956 e il modello pronto per la produzione fu presentato al Salone di Ginevra del 1957. Alla fine di quell'anno furono prodotte le ultime 70 delle 1.400 coupé e le prime 618 della versione roadster.

Oltre ad essere una convertibile, la 300 SL fu caratterizzata da diversi aggiornamenti sulla sua già eccezionale piattaforma. La sezione centrale del telaio tubolare fu abbassata, mentre un battitacco più piccolo fu montato così come delle portiere più larghe per migliorare l'ingresso e l'uscita dall'abitacolo. Nonostante ciò, si riuscì a mantenere la robustezza complessiva della struttura, grazie all'adozione di traverse diagonali che rinforzavano la parte bassa laterale fino al complesso tubolare posteriore. Le sospensioni furono riviste per garantire maggiore comfort e tenuta di strada. Nel baule la ruota di scorta fu riposizionata al di sotto del piano di carico, per cui si dovette installare un serbatoio più piccolo per mantenere uno spazio adeguato per i bagagli. Anche se tutte queste modifiche aggiunsero circa 113 kg, la maggior parte dei quali dovuta al tetto pieghevole ed ai relativi meccanismi, la macchina mantenne le sue straordinarie prestazioni e la capacità di raggiungere una velocità di punta di 220 km/h, stando alle dichiarazioni del Costruttore.

Proprio come la 300 SL Ali di Gabbiano, la Roadster si rivelò essere l'auto preferita da chi possedeva un certo gusto per l'estetica e l'ingegneria di alto livello. Per questo motivo, molte finirono nei garage di celebrità, piloti ed altri individui di successo. Con un prezzo di listino di 11.000$, entrare in possesso di una 300 SL nuova era un sogno di molti e per tutti coloro che potevano permettersela era una spesa che valeva ogni centesimo. Per quelli che volevano dire la loro acquistando una nuova auto, non c'era semplicemente opzione migliore.

Questa spettacolare roadster qui offerta, con numero di telaio 198.042.8500091, si ritiene sia stata originariamente consegnata negli Stati Uniti per via della presenza dei fari anteriori specifici montati sulle auto vendute oltreoceano. Successivamente l'auto fu portata nel Regno Unito a metà anni 80, ove li rimase per la maggior parte della sua vita, immatricolata con targa inglese 660 EXD.

Sotto una recente proprietà, l'auto è stata rifinita in Antracite Metallizzata (DB 172) con interni in pelle nera ed ha mantenuto la carenatura sui suoi fari anteriori e posteriori, così come la strumentazione originale americana. Stando alle dichiarazioni di un precedente proprietario, l'auto è stata ben mantenuta e migliorata durante i suoi cicli di manutenzione, eseguiti da specialisti come O'Keefe Restorations e Gordon Dale. L'attuale proprietario ha inoltre fatto presente che i semiassi posteriori, la pompa dell'iniezione e gli iniettori furono ricostruiti, così come la trasmissione, la quale ricevette nuovi cuscinetti. Fu anche montato un nuovo radiatore più grande e in alluminio. La macchina è ancora fornita del suo tetto rigido originale, verniciato nello stesso bellissimo colore della carrozzeria.

Questa macchina è un'eccezionale 300 SL da guidare e godere appieno. Si presenta funzionante, in bellissimo stato e beneficia di una delle più belle combinazioni cromatiche disponibili e di una permanenza a lungo termine presso stesso proprietario in Inghilterra. Come tale quest'auto è spettacolare sia da ferma che sulla strada.

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