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Lot 139: Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

HISTORIC COLLECTORS MOTORCARS, Coys (29 June 2013)

The exclusive 300SL  just 1,400 coupes were built between 1954 to 1957 and 1,858 roadsters between 1957 to 1963  cost a fortune: 5,600 for the Gullwing in 1954 against 1,400 for a Jaguar XK120 but excellence is never cheap and the SLs were magnificent: solid, handsome and very fast. In fact, little could outpace them for years. Half expecting the long-awaited 300SL to provide an anti-climax, R&T were delighted to find the new car, 'far beyond our wildest expectations. In fact, we can state unequivocally that in our opinion the 300SL coupe is the ultimate in an all-round sportscar. It combines more desirable features in one streamlined package than we ever imagined or hoped would be possible. Performance? It accelerates from a dead start to 100mph in just over 17 seconds. Dual purpose? A production model 300SL can make a very acceptable showing in any type of sportscar competition. Yet the car is extremely tractable and easy to drive in traffic. Comfort? The fully enclosed 300SL is the most comfortable (and safe) high-speed 'cross-country' car built today.' Its racing parentage notwithstanding, the 300SL was and remains an exceptionally practical automobile, as civilised in city driving as it is exhilarating on the highway or on a race circuit. In 1957 the Gullwing coupe was replaced by a Roadster version, incorporating the same mechanical specification but without the novel doors, no longer needed in an open car. Undoubtedly California was in mind and many Hollywood movie moguls snapped up the roadsters thus creating an icon representing the most sophisticated and glamorous side of European culture. While the practicality of the Gullwing SL was compromised by its high sills which were necessitated by the space-frame construction, but made entry and exit awkward; the roadster did not share this feature and is a much more elegant and comfortable proposition as a car for regular use. The wind-up windows permit ventilation to provide relief from the stifling heat that would build up in the closed coupe on warm days. The Roadster's neutral steering characteristics received fulsome praise from Road & Track in its 1958 roadtest. '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 300SL Roadster one of the fastest convertibles of its time. R&T concluded: 'There is no doubt that the 300SL 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. Roadster production ceased in 1963 after 1,858 cars had been built, and today the model is both rare and highly sought after and incredibly collectable. Rare and desirable, this 300SL Roadster is offered in beautiful order, having been the subject of a superior cosmetic restoration in 2012. In addition, the rear axle was rebuilt along with the injection pump and injectors, while a new high-capacity aluminium radiator was installed and the gearbox rebuilt with new bearings. Presented in the correct and original factory-code Ivory with black leather upholstery and black hood, the latter in perfect condition, this 300SL starts easily and drives as it should with impressive performance and strong brakes. '660 EXD' is supplied with a history file containing bills and receipts, UK V5 registration document, MoT to September 2013 and historic road fund licence. A stunning example of the iconic 300SL in roadster form, this is a desirable motor car that would make an exhilarating yet practical touring car. Indeed, there cannot be better ways of travelling to a classic event, taking part and driving home.

Lot Details
Auction HISTORIC COLLECTORS MOTORCARS
Coys, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PX
TypeCar
Lot Number139
Estimate£400000-£450000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1958
Condition rating
Registration number660 EXD
Mileage-
Chassis number1980428500091
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors