1955 Mercedes 300 SL

General Information

Brand: Mercedes Benz
Type: 300 SL
Mileage:  km
Price: On request
Mille Miglia Eligible: Yes

History

The Mercedes-Benz 300SL (SL stands for Sport Leicht) is a two-seater car from the German car brand Mercedes-Benz, which was manufactured from 1952 to 1963. The 300SL was divided into two types: The W 198 I was the Coupé with gullwing doors that was produced from 1952 to 1957. The W 198 II was the open roadster produced from 1957 to 1963.


Car description


T
his Gullwing is one of 1,100 production cars built on the blueprint of the race model – it has an outstanding race history of its own.

The Gullwing was completed at the factory on January 10th, 1955. The car was ordered in the gorgeous shade of DB 534 red, over a 953 black interior. The formative years of the car are undocumented, but early records suggest that this Gullwing was driven in race events right out of the gate – as it was shipped back to Stuttgart in the 60s where it received a new aluminum motor complete with sports cam. .

In 1982, Olson entered the car in the 3,000 mile road rally from Boston to San Diego, called the Four Ball Rally. Apparently averaging a 'sedate' 65 miles an hour, the 27-year-old classic – the oldest car in the field - finished in 47 hours. The following year the car came in 3rd in the Coast to Coast Cannonball, a strenuous feat which resulted in Olson having the Gullwing overhauled in April, 1984, under the watchful eye of Paul Russell at Gullwing Service Co. in Essex, Massachusetts. With all systems fully addressed, it was off to the races again.

In 1986, Olson drove the car to 2nd place in a field of thirty 300 SLs at Laguna Seca, and then attended the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, which was honoring the Mercedes-Benz marque that particular year. In his final racing foray, Olson entered his Gullwing into the Mille Miglia of 1987 and upon completion extended his European tour in Stuttgart where he presented the car at the annual Mercedes meet. Finally, Olson decided it was time to hang up his racing goggles and in 1988 he let the car go to Alex Dearborn of Topfield, Massachusetts, with no small amount of nostalgia and reluctance. In a letter scripted in Olson's superb penmanship (and included in the documents provided herewith) he tells Dearborn that over the past decade he spent over $35,000 on the mechanicals to draw out the car's 'guts and vinegar'. He goes on to say, "This car has soul, but don't be afraid of it. The harder you drive it, the more it loves you."

Dearborn immediately put this advice to the test and drove the Gullwing to first place overall at the Road America 300 SL Grand Prix in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The following year the car was treated to a repaint – again in fire engine red – and was re-detailed, before entering the Historic Exhibition Race at Lime Rock, Connecticut, in 1989. According to magazine clippings, Dearborn and his Gullwing led the field for most of the race, but was out-maneuvered towards the end by another red Gullwing driven by Joe Tompkin. Crowds at the finish line erupted at the Mercedes one-two finish, reminiscent of the team victories celebrated by the factory race teams of the 1950s.

In 1990, Dearborn sold the car into a major East Coast collection, and thenceforth it was never raced again. Since its track days, the Gullwing has been routinely maintained and carefully stored by the collector and current owner – thus rendering the car in its current excellent condition. The paint is very good for a car restored almost 40 years ago, the engine bay is clean and tidy, and the interior exhibits a comfortable patina of careful use.

Accompanying the 1955 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing is an extensive portfolio of documentation: race history, advertisements, judging record sheets, service invoices, handwritten correspondence and clippings from several magazines, including Victory Lane and Vintage Motorsports. Maps of racing routes and photographs of the car en route add important historical gravitas and color to this extraordinary Gullwing's racing history. This car has it all – it is collectible, highly desirable, a legend of the Mercedes line and a thoroughbred racing champion of the Golden Years of 1950s motor racing. It's beautiful, iconic, suited up and ready for its next racing adventure at the hands of a worthy companion.



Documentation

On request.