1956 Mercedes-Benz 300Sc Roadster
Year of manufacture1956
- Very early production example; body no. 00001 and floor-shift-equipped
- Among Mercedes-Benz’s most exclusive offerings; one of only 53 built
- Sophisticated inline-six with Bosch mechanical direct fuel-injection
- Attractively finished in Dark Red over black with a black top
- An elegant, hand-crafted, and significant post-war Mercedes-Benz suitable for touring or exhibition
Please note that this lot is titled as a 1955.
For over 100 years, save for the war years, Mercedes-Benz has maintained a consistent product strategy of offering affordable and practical transportation for the masses. This was promoted by offering a limited number of automobiles for the affluent and influential and publicized by their achievements in motorsport. As soon as the company could get back on its feet after World War II, it reverted to this strategy.
At the recently revived auto shows in Frankfurt and Paris in 1951, the company displayed the updated but economical 170 S passenger sedan, the 300 limousine, the 300 SL race cars, and three models of its 300 S—the Roadster, Cabriolet, and Coupe—that used a shortened version of the limousine chassis and a detuned version of the 300 SL engine. The bodies were designed by Hermann Ahrens, whose own design credentials extended back to the 540 Ks built between the wars. With their stately, tall Mercedes-Benz grilles mounted with the three-pointed star, separate fenders with elegant chrome rings around the headlamps, proportions emphasizing the long hood and short tail, and running boards concealed under the doors, they evoke the best of past traditions while looking forward to the ageless design of future Mercedes-Benz cars. The three styles of personal luxury cars would be produced to special order through 1958 as the ultimate statement of taste in automotive transportation.
In 1955, Mercedes-Benz updated the model. The classic look remained, but the so-called 300 Sc gained a Bosch mechanical direct fuel-injection system derived from the 300 SL, along with revised suspension. As the most expensive cars in the Mercedes-Benz catalogue, only 200 examples of the 300 Sc were built across all three body styles. The desirable 300 Sc Roadster was, with only 53 completed before production ceased in early 1958, even more exclusive.
Each 300 Sc was hand-built to order. All panels were carefully fitted, with edges leaded in as needed to minimize and even-out panel gaps. Trim was carefully fitted to each body, then removed to be chromed before final installation. On the interior, wood veneer in the grain and finish specified by the owner would be cut in book-matched symmetric grain patterns before being fitted. With storage space for the soft top taking up space between the interior compartment and trunk, the roadster differed from the cabriolet and coupe in not having usable rear seats. Instead, the tonneau area behind the two front seats consisted of a neatly trimmed space for luggage or parcels.
A very early production example, this roadster sports body no. 00001 and is thought to possibly be the first production 300 Sc. As originally specified, the roadster was finished in white (DB 50) over a Cream (1060) leather interior and fitted with a black convertible top. It was dispatched on 23 January 1956, and like many of the desirable roadsters at the time, it was slated for the renowned Mercedes-Benz distributor Max Hoffman in New York. For many years it was owned by Mercedes-Benz collector John Olson, who drove the car over 80,000 miles, including on several cross-country road trips. Olson bought it from Harry Woodnorth, who worked for Max Hoffman in the 1950s.
After ten years of enjoyment, Olson sold the 300 Sc to Daniel Peterkin, CEO of Morton Salt Company. Peterkin bought it because he had owned another 300 Sc from new and always regretted selling it. Under the care of a subsequent owner, John Calley—president of Sony Pictures Entertainment and a passionate car collector—the Roadster was stripped to bare metal and repainted to its current color; at this time, its body was found to be in excellent condition. Calley kept the car at his home on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and during his approximately ten-year ownership, it was maintained by marque expert Rudi Koniczek, very well-known for his work on Mercedes-Benz of the era.
This car is not equipped with its original engine; at some point in its past, it was fitted with another inline-six of the correct type. Prior to acquisition by the current consignor, Eurostar Auto Service of Calgary replaced the clutch 2012, and more recently in 2018, Coachwerks Restoration of Victoria, B.C., went through all mechanical aspects of the car. Work included rebuilding the fuel pump, recoating the inside of the fuel tank, rebuilding the generator, and adjusting the timing, among much more.
Attractively finished in Dark Red (DB 542), this is a very well-sorted and extremely rare 300 Sc Roadster.
Please note that a set of custom fitted luggage has been ordered for the car at the seller’s expense but is expected to take two to three months to complete. Upon completion, the luggage will be shipped to the buyer at the seller’s expense if the buyer resides in the continental United States. If the buyer resides outside of the United States, shipping charges will be at the buyer’s expense.
To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/az21.