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Lot 645
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL 'Gullwing' Coupe

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Selling on Saturday Evening

CHASSIS NO: 1980405500263

• 1 of only 1,400 Mercedes-Benz 300SL 'Gullwings' produced
• Preserved in single ownership for almost 50 years
• Retains its original engine, transmission, fuel injection and belly pans
• Recipient of a comprehensive restoration
• The only known example finished in the color Mittelgrün


Documents

1973 Letter_2.pdf
1973 Letter.pdf
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation Title.pdf
Restoration Photo at Indianapolis Motor Speedway .pdf


2,995 cc SOHC straight six-cylinder engine, 215 HP, Bosch fuel injection, four-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel independent suspension, drum brakes; wheelbase: 94.5”


Many consider the Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ as a holy grail of collectible automobiles. As the iconic doors sweep above its graceful, tubular body, it’s difficult not to gasp for air. With only 1,400 produced, every surviving Mercedes-Benz 300SL 'Gullwing' is incredibly important, and consequently, prices crested $2 million for concours-quality examples long ago. Not only was the 'Gullwing' the most viscerally dazzling car to ever slap pavement, but it was also the recipient of brilliant German engineering and was directly derived from a champion racer that waved the checkered flag at Le Mans, Carrera Panamericana, Liège-Rome-Liège and countless others. A lightweight, tubular spaceframe was constructed beneath a steel body shell; this was crafted with high door sills to accommodate the iconic gullwing doors. To lighten the weight, the hood, doors, trunk lid, rocker panels, firewall, and floor pans were fabricated from aluminum – living up to its SL ‘super leicht’ (light) moniker. The featherlight body was then mated to the M198, a 2,995 cc single-overhead cam, straight six-cylinder engine rated at 215 horsepower with fuel injection that shifted through a superior four-speed manual gearbox. Capable of 160 miles an hour, it was the fastest production car on the planet when it debuted. An American actually inspired the development of this German legend. Max Hoffman had better taste than most. He commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design his home and his New York showroom. Max had a major hand in the development of myriad trendsetting motorcars, including Porsche’s 356 Speedster, thanks to his considerable influence as an importer of European luxury automobiles for the United States. There is no greater car attributed to him than the Mercedes-Benz 300SL 'Gullwing', also known as the most beautiful car to ever roll on four wheels. He recommended that Mercedes create a production sports car for the American market and his acumen was on point. More than 70-percent of the 1,400 'Gullwings' that rolled off the line were sold through his distributorship in the United States. To get an idea of just how much sway Hoffman held, Mercedes debuted the Gullwing at the 1954 International Motor Sports Show in New York. This was the first time that Mercedes-Benz had ever launched a new car before unveiling it in Germany first.

One of Hoffman’s American 'Gullwings', this car, chassis number 040.5500263 was shipped from the factory on April 30, 1955. The car was restored by Indianapolis 500 Museum staff during the 2000s. Schmidt Automotive Machine Shop jet cleaned the cylinder head and thermal cleaned, bored and honed the original block-stamped #198.980.5500219 which matches the factory build sheet. A new engine tag with the original engine number was also added by the museum staff using the proper rivets. Pacific Fuel of San Francisco rebuilt the Bosch fuel injection. New rubber suspension components were also sourced. The bodywork conducted by the museum required replacement steel panels, sourced from Mercedes-Benz of Fellbach, Germany. The panels were fitted to the front inner and outer fenders, wheels wells and trunk floor before powder coating the steel frame. In 2021, a comprehensive servicing was performed including a new battery, fuel filter housings, a water pump rebuild, the addition of fresh transmission and clutch fluid and a flush of the brakes and fuel systems. Prior to the Foundation's ownership in 1973, the front bumper was evidently sourced from a 190SL and sourced from a 300SL Roadster was the grille assembly, rear bumper and bumperettes, all of which were installed before the car arrived in Indianapolis. Ownership history shows the car was titled in Ohio and Indiana before it was acquired by the Foundation in 1973, which maintained ownership for almost 50 years before being acquired by the current owner. Today, this beautiful restoration is finished in Mittelgrün (green) over a beige leather interior. Worth noting, this particular 300SL 'Gullwing' is the only known example finished in the stunning color of Mittelgrün.

Expertly finished paint, paired with iconic matching Mercedes hubcaps on the 15-inch wheels, this car presents with exceptional polish. Upholstered by Landwerlen Leather Company, the beige leather and matching square-weave carpeting are masterfully done and strike the perfect chord with the vibrant green color scheme. The ivory two-spoke steering wheel adjusts for entry and exit and the VDO instrumentation looks flawless.

Equipped with the numbers-matching 3.0-litre inline-six engine with fuel injection, four-speed manual transmission, original set of belly pans and a scant 84,000 miles on the odometer, this iconic restored 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe is one of only 1,400 produced in entirety. Regarded as one of the greatest road-going automobiles of its time, the 'Gullwing' is also one of few cars ever built that looks stunning from every angle. There are only so many chances to own a genuine 'Gullwing' and this captivating, one-off green beauty truly embodies the vision that Mercedes-Benz had when they debuted the legendary 300SL.

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