Ultra-rare Mercedes 300 SL ‘Sportabteilung’ wings its way to auction

RM Sotheby’s has announced the consignment of the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ‘Sportabteilung’ Gullwing that Stirling Moss drove to second place in the 1956 Tour de France…

The rare Gullwing – one of only four W198s prepared by the Sportabteilung, Mercedes’ in-house motorsport division – is the latest in a lengthening line of blue-chip classics to be added to the RM Sotheby's ‘Driven by Disruption’ sale, which also boasts an Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, Janis Joplin’s famous Porsche 356C, and Fangio’s Ferrari 290 MM, among numerous others.

Chasing the namesake

As well as the Moss competition provenance and the various special racing features, it also boasts continuous family ownership since 1956. After the TdF endeavours of Moss (who ultimately lost out to the Marquis de Portago in his namesake Ferrari 250 GT, despite outperforming him in the final stage), which were followed by several of the second owner’s own competition exploits, the car was passed to the father of the current owner. He drove the car regularly for several years, before parking it up for no less than four decades – and it would not be until 2011 that it was coaxed back to life, after the son commissioned a three-year restoration to its TdF specifications.

As such, it’s now not only one of the most important Gullwings ever offered at auction, but also one of the rarest, making an aluminium-bodied car seem almost common by comparison. If you’re an underbidder at the sale in New York on 10 December, never mind – you could always try to prize the Uhlenhaut Coupé from the Mercedes museum…

Photos: Rémi Dargegen for RM Sotheby’s © 2015