1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
- Year of manufacture1961
- Car typeConvertible / Roadster
- Lot number13
- ConditionOriginal condition
- Number of seats2
- Exterior colourWhite
- Fuel typePetrol
Collection Mercedes-Benz France
Powerful and luxurious
Nice presentation, exceptional provenance
Launched in 1954, the Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing caused a real stir. Not only did it offer an exceptional performance for the period, but the "" gullwing "" doors were a hit with the public and the press. A publicity stunt by the manufacturer from Stuttgart ? Not really : the 300 SL was entirely shaped by the race track and the relatively high sides of the multi-tubular chassis required this configuration.
However, this stunning coupé was not without its flaws and as the months went by, drivers started to complain about its very "" radical "" character: the heat in the cockpit could become unbearable, made worse by the fact that the windows couldn't be lowered. Also, access for a well-dressed woman in a long dress was far from easy. Max Hoffman, the American Mercedes-Benz importer who had already suggested the idea of the coupé, made his views known again: "" We need a roadster version for our clients who live in areas where the weather is good "" he declared to those in charge of the German firm. There had been some hesitation about offering such a model, which presented a new technical challenge: the doors would need to descent lower than those on the Gullwing verison, requiring a modification to the chassis. The engineers at Mercedes-Benz went back to the drawing board and succeeded in reducing the height of the structure at the sides without compromising the rigidity. Alterations to the design were carried out by Friedrich Geiger who gave the car a panoramic windscreen and a hood that retracted completely at the rear.
Presented at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1957, this new model replaced the Gullwing coupé, which had ceased production at the start of that year. The roadster was the culmination of the 300 SL's career, representing the ideal compromise between a sporting thoroughbred and a level of refinement expected by the clientèle of cars of this price. It was capable of 240 km/h and was as perfectly suited to covering long distances tirelessly in opulent surroundings, as escorting a passenger in evening dress to the opera. Built meticulously, the handling offered a high level of security due to the modified rear suspension and, from 1961, new disc brakes. The roadster enjoyed a longer career than the coupé and remained in the catalogue until 1963. It was never replaced: the 230 SL that followed did not offer the same sporty styling. Thus, the Mercedes 300 SL roadster represents one of the marque's most emblematic and prestigious models, a milestone in the history of the doyenne of car manufacturers, unifying the two characteristics that symbolise the brand: sport and luxury.
First registered on 1 July 1961, the example on offer was delivered new in ivory, with red carpets and leather upholstery (reference 1079). It is believed to be an original European car. Acquired by Mercedes-Benz France on 3 January 2002 from Bentley, it had previously had three owners since 1993: from 1993 to 1999, from 1999 to 2001 and from 2001 to 2002. Mechanically, the car is original (engine, gearbox (n°002968), axle (n°002903)), and its condition is in keeping with an older, good quality restoration. The bodywork and engine compartment are both in reasonable condition, with a patina reflecting an appropriate use. The chrome is in good condition although the side trim shows signs of distortion. The exhaust has a chrome "" fish-tail "" outlet. The underbody has a protective wax covering but there are some signs of corrosion in the front wheel arches. Inside, the red upholstery is in lovely condition, as is the painted metal dashboard, with red leather trim. Of note, the equipment includes an additional air conditioning system. The mats behind the driver's seat and in the boot are not up to the standard of the others and will need replacing. In addition to the black alpaca hood, which is in good condition, there is a hard-top the same colour as the body, which has the original roof lining in white leatherette. A key-operated battery cut-out has been installed inside.
A mechanical service was undertaken by the manufacturer in September 2017, including the replacement of fluids, battery and all four tyres. The car will be delivered with an inspection report from 2015, a maintenance manual in French, a catalogue "" B "" ref 12034 and an owner's manual in German.
Presented in satisfactory condition overall, this roadster 300 SL was selected by Mercedes-Benz France for its own collection, providing an important endorsement.