Roadsters and Gullwings at the Mercedes-Benz Sale

March 12, 2015 by Bonhams

Roadsters and Gullwings at the Mercedes-Benz Sale  The 300 SL - be it Roadster or Gullwing – is one of the most recognizable models in the history of Mercedes-Benz. On 28 March, four pristine examples of this motoring icon from the 1950s and 1960s will go under the hammer at the single-marque Mercedes-Benz Sale by Bonhams.

'First introduced with trademark 'Gullwing' doors, and often considered as the first real 'supercar', the 300 SL proved hugely popular and so was later developed as an open roadster,' said Philip Kantor, Head of European Motorcars.

'The auction in Stuttgart features four fantastic examples of the 300 SL: the 1957 disc-brake Roadster, from European single family ownership of 48 years, estimated at €1,000,000-1,400,000 (£730,000-1,000,000); a 1960 Roadster, previously owned by German industrialist, Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, of the Krupp steel dynasty, which is estimated at €900,000-1,200,000 (£700,000-940,000); another fine 1959 roadster with hardtop, estimated at €1,000,000-1,400,000 (£730,000-1,000,000); and finally, from 1955, the famed Gullwing, estimated at €950,000-1,250,000 (£690,000-900,000).'

The evolution of the 300 SL began with imported car impresario, Max Hoffman. When Mercedes-Benz won the 1952 Carrera Panamericana (a border-to-border road race across Mexico, held from 1950-1954) with a W194 300 SL coupé, Hoffman seized the moment to approach the marque with a radical idea: take the racing-derived tube frame W194, with its high performance 3-liter engine, and create a road-going sports car aimed at the upper-end of the aspiring US sports car market. Mercedes-Benz, still trying to shake off the devastation of the war and the weak European market, took him up on the idea, and the 300 SL was born.

Several changes were made to improve the 300 SL's usability, but it was still clear that the model was derived from a racing car. As aerodynamics played an important role in the car's speed, the Mercedes-Benz engineers would place horizontal 'eyebrows' over the wheel openings to reduce drag. With fully independent suspension, a close-ratio gearbox with straight cut gears, and the first direct fuel injection system with fourstroke engine ever offered in a production automobile, the 300 SL was a technological tour-de-force. When introduced in coupé form to the US market at the 1954 New York Auto Show, it became an instant sensation.

Held in the Mercedes-Benz Museum, which charts the entire history of the world's oldest car manufacturer with a total of 1,500 exhibits including 160 vehicles, the Bonhams auction will feature a variety of some 40 classic motor cars from across the German marque's century long history.

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Photo credit: Bonhams
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