1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
Year of manufacture1963
Mark and Mercedes Pollack, Tryon, North Carolina (acquired new in 1963)
Ann Hallowell, Greenwich, Connecticut (acquired from the above in 1977)
Current Owner (acquired from the above in 1997)
Deutsche Marque Concours d’Elegance, Vienna, Virginia, May 1999 (Best in Class)
Radnor Hunt Concours d’Elegance, Malvern, Pennsylvania, September 2000 (Best MB Sports Car)
Deutsche Marque Concours d’Elegance, Vienna, Virginia, May 2001 (Best of Marque)
Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, Greenwich, Connecticut, June 2001 (Best German Sports and Touring Car)
MBCA Mid-Atlantic Concours d’Elegance, July 2001 (Best of Show)
Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Amelia Island, Florida, March 2002 (First in Class)
Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina,
October 2003 (Car Showing Exceptional Styling for Its Era, Class Award)
AACA Spring National Meet 2004, Hagerstown, Maryland (Junior Award)
Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance, Rochester Hills, Michigan, August 2004 (Class Award)
York County Heritage Trust Concours d’Elegance, York, Pennsylvania, 2006 (Mercedes-Benz Trophy)
Glenmoor Gathering, Akron, Ohio, September 2006 (Chairman’s Award)
AACA Spring National Meet, Binghamton, New York, June 2007 (Senior Award)
William K. Vanderbilt Jr. Concours d’Elegance, Newport, Rhode Island, July 2007 (Class Award)
MBCA Mid-Atlantic Concours d’Elegance, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 2007 (Best of Show)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 2011 (Class Award)
St. Michaels Concours d’Elegance, Annapolis, Maryland, September 2013 (First in Class)
Lime Rock Historic Festival Concours d’Elegance, Lime Rock, Connecticut, September 2015 (First in Class)
, July/August 2001, feature article
, March 2004
, July 2004
, September 2004, cover car
Dennis Adler,, April 2008
, January/February 2012, cover car
In March 1957, Mercedes-Benz introduced the 300 SL Roadster, employing a host of mechanical advancements and stylistic revisions to transition to a new open-top version of the successful 300 SL Coupe. Chief among these were a new rear-axle design that improved handling and a modified frame that allowed for conventionally hinged doors. These features were further complemented by the addition of disc brakes in 1961 and the implementation the next year of aluminum engine blocks, which were fitted to the final 210 examples of the Roadster.
Mercedes-Benz built 1,858 Roadsters, steadily improving them mechanically until production ceased in February 1963. Only 26 Roadsters were built in 1963, and this final run represented the apogee of the 300 SL, as the ultimate and most advanced expression of the highly developed model.
This striking and modestly used 300 SL is one of six examples built in February 1963. It is the fifth-from-last car assembled, and the latest-built car sold new to the American market. It has been preserved by a well-documented chain of three devoted caretakers, resulting in one of the most important and desirable Roadsters to be offered in many years. According to factory data sourced by the consignor, chassis 3254 was completed on February 4, 1963, finished in White (DB 50) and trimmed with red leather.To a great degree, the story of this Roadster is that of its first owner, Mercedes Pollack. Born in Cuba as Mercedes de la Torre y Alcoz, Mrs. Pollack was a Cuban national with ties to the old landed class of the island nation. She married Mark Pollack, the second son of a wealthy American who was one of the largest exporters of Cuban tobacco.
Before the Cuban Revolution, Mr. Pollack developed a taste for fine motorcars while growing up in La Mansión, a luxurious Florentine estate commissioned by his father that has been featured in Architectural Digest and still is used by the government to house important officials. By the time of the Batista regime’s overthrow, Mr. Pollack had amassed a notable collection that included a 1924 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia, a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, an early 300 SL Roadster finished in white paint over a red interior, and three Ferraris.
With the takeover of Cuba by Fidel Castro’s communist revolutionaries in 1959, the Pollacks fled , leaving their car collection and subsequently taking up residency in Geneva, Switzerland, and Tryon, North Carolina. While the couple was traveling through the principality of Andorra in August 1963, Mercedes Pollack learned that the 300 SL model had recently discontinued production, and she quickly contacted the factory to express interest in purchasing a Roadster.
Of the last cars assembled, four examples had been finished in White with a red interior, and Mrs. Pollack bought the last one available. Her purchase contract through the Establecimientos Pyrenees Casa Perez in Andorra shows a price of $6,500, reflecting a tremendous markdown of the general list price of $11,500. Having replaced the white over red Roadster they abandoned in Cuba, the Pollacks christened their new car La Paloma Blanca (The White Dove).
After receiving the car in August 1963, they returned it to the factory for full implementation of options. It subsequently was equipped with chrome sport wheels, dual side mirrors, a Becker Grand Prix radio with Hirschmann antenna, a spotlight, factory competition seat belts, and a set of Hepco luggage. The factory fitted the trunk lid with a unique luggage rack that was paired with a piece of Karl Baisch luggage from a Gullwing. The headlamps were converted to US specifications, and the car is believed to be the only European-specified 300 SL example sold through the marque’s continental dealership network that was officially converted in this manner.
When the work was completed, the Pollacks used their new Roadster to tour Europe for six months. They returned to the US by ocean liner in 1964, and was shipped with them. The Roadster was driven steadily for two years and accrued approximately 16,000 km by 1966, when Mr. Pollack’s deteriorating vision led to the car being stored indefinitely.
In 1977, the well-known dealer Ed Jurist of Nyack, New York, brokered a sale of 3254 from Mrs. Pollack to Ann Hallowell, a vintage firearms dealer residing in Greenwich, Connecticut. Well versed in collector concepts and the care of aged mechanical objects, Mrs. Hallowell and her husband fastidiously maintained the beautiful 300 SL for the next 20 years, accruing just 2,500 km during that time.
In 1997, Mrs. Hallowell sold the Roadster to the consignor, a longtime 300 SL connoisseur from Maryland. Two years later he entrusted the car to the highly regarded experts at Paul Russell and Company, a recognized authority in the care of vintage Mercedes-Benz sports cars. A number of minor measures were undertaken for optimal presentation, including the reinstallation of Europeanstyle headlamps, a correct repositioning of the side mirrors, and, as a result of minor damage, a high-quality exterior refinish in proper White (DB 50) paint.
The owner also took considerable strides in bolstering the car’s history, including contacting original owner Mercedes Pollack and receiving from her a letter accompanied by several period photographs. She also sold the owner the original luggage rack, which was then reinstalled per the original delivery configuration. More recently, the Roadster has benefited from a 2015 rebuild of its original alloy engine, and the fitting for select events of the original Continental whitewall tires (one of two sets known to exist in the US).
Chassis 3254 proceeded to amass a slew of concours awards when the consignor began to present the car in 2000. These included seven Best of Show awards at local events, as well as class awards at major concours like the 2002 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, the 2004 Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance, the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, and the 2010 and 2012 Gull Wing Group Conventions.
Documented with a virtual treasure trove of items including 3254’s purchase order, delivery note, period photographs, factory documents, and service records, this significant 300 SL Roadster is accompanied by a factory hardtop, three pieces of factory luggage, a second set of date-coded wheels, owner’s manuals, tool kit, and jack. It retains its factory-appointed interior, as well as exceptionally rare items such as Alfred Baisch seat belts, and Bullock-Rudge knock-off hubcaps, one of very few sets known to exist. This highly revered and impressively original Mercedes-Benz displayed just 57,424 km (35,681 miles) at the time of cataloguing and offers a unique opportunity to acquire the most developed expression of the celebrated 300 SL Roadster.