1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

Gullwing

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1955
  • Car type 
    Other
  • Lot number 
    129
  • Condition 
    Used
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    Other

Description

To Be OFFERED AT AUCTION at RM Sothebys' Arizona event, 27 January 2022.
Estimate:
$1,450,000 - $1,650,000 USD

  • The sole 300 SL Gullwing known to have been finished in Dunkelgrau with red tartan seats
  • Beautifully restored in its striking factory colors in 2015
  • Retains numbers-matching engine; lengthy history of known ownership
  • Accompanied by factory-correct color-matched luggage, factory data card copy, restoration invoices, and maintenance documentation

A GULLWING UNLIKE ANY OTHER

Of the 1,400 examples of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing coupe built from 1955–1957, a plurality—some 530 cars—were finished by the factory in Silver, making effectively the “default” color. The choice was quite logical: Silver was the traditional color of German racing machinery, and the high-performance 300 SL was direct descendent company’s successful motorsport program (most obviously the gullwing door-equipped, Carrera Panamericana-winning W194). The model featured a race-derived 3.0-liter inline-six with mechanical fuel injection and lightweight tube-frame construction, further underscoring its competition pedigree.

Buyers of the 300 SL could in fact choose from a range of 10 standard colors, however, as well as a virtually limitless palette of sonderfarben, or special colors, and the celebrated Gullwing design is particularly striking in some of these seldom-seen shades. This 1955 300 SL is one of just two cars known to have been finished in Dunkelgrau, or Dark Grey; according to Eric Le Moine’s Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe/Gullwing Register, it is the sole example to have been finished in Dunkelgrau with a red plaid cloth and fawn vinyl interior, making for a unique and highly appealing combination.

Completed on 26 April 1955, according to a copy of the factory data card on file, this 300 SL was built to United States specification and dispatched for delivery via New York. Its first owner of record is a Dr. Anthony M. Puled of Cleveland, Ohio, who purchased the car in March 1959. Dr. Puled would retain the 300 SL until November 1971, when he sold it to The Car People, Inc., a dealership located in North Royalton, Ohio. It would remain in the possession of the dealership until 1987, when it was bought by Engelwood, New Jersey collector Frank Gallogly.

Under Gallogly’s stewardship, the Mercedes-Benz’s engine was rebuilt, and it was repainted. Fastidious maintenance continued under its next owner, John Vought of Ridgefield, Connecticut, who acquired the car in 1992. He would enjoy the Gullwing until 2001, when it was obtained by Peter Weinberg of Monkton, Maryland.

CHASSIS NUMBER 5500243, REBORN

While this Gullwing clearly benefitted from a lifetime of care by devoted enthusiasts, its next caretaker, who acquired the car from Mr. Weinberg in 2014, decided to undertake a total restoration. This comprehensive job involved a team of predominantly California-based craftsmen, with numerous important components obtained directly from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine.

As documented in a substantial file of restoration invoices, Mercedes-Benz 300 SL specialist David Grant of Santa Clarita, California headed the work on this uniquely configured car; certain tasks were sublet to experts for completion, with Van Nuys Sports Cars of Sherman Oaks assembling its numbers-matching engine and performing transmission work on its four-speed manual gearbox. Tony Castellano Classic Car Restoration of Palmdale did body work and repainted the car in its rare, factory-correct color. Bumpers, fuel system components, and more were obtained from Germany’s HK-Engineering, and the car’s exterior brightwork was also re-chromed and polished at this time. The car’s wheels were refinished and wrapped in Michelin XVS tires.

Equal care was paid to the Mercedes-Benz’s interior. The factory-correct upholstery colors were retained, but the original fawn vinyl material was replaced with high-quality leather by Quality Auto Upholstery of Marina Del Rey, California; a new headliner was purchased from 300 SL restoration legend Rudi Koniczek of British Columbia, Canada. Red tartan seat material was sourced from Hjeltness Restoration of Fallbrook, California, who also supplied a set of alternate leather cushions (which accompany the car today). Finally, a correct set of luggage, color-matched to the tan leather of the interior, was obtained, and it is currently fitted behind the seats.

The car was acquired by the present consignor in 2015, not long after the completion of its total restoration. Most recently, it was detailed by RM Auto Restorations, further burnishing the well-maintained Mercedes-Benz’s already appealing state of presentation. It is accompanied by fitted luggage and leather seat cushions, tool roll and jack, a copy of the factory data card, and a file documenting its ownership history, maintenance, and restoration.

The 300 SL Gullwing is notable for being one of the few cars of its era that is as wonderful to drive as it is to simply admire. Boasting a unique, factory-correct color combination and history of expert restoration and careful maintenance, this Dunkelgrau example offers its next owner innumerable opportunities for on-road enjoyment, exhibition, and participation in club activities. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/az22.