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Lot 237: 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupé

Les Grandes Marques a Monaco, Bonhams (16 May 2005)

Mercedes-Benz’s brief withdrawal from motor sport in 1951 enabled the company to focus on the development of a sensational all-new sports car for the 1952 season. Developed behind locked doors and amid much secrecy, the new car borrowed many mechanical components from the flagship and rather formal 300 model, however there the similarity ended. An all-new, triangulated spaceframe, tubular chassis was adopted, this feature demanding high door sills and therefore dictating the design of the sports car coachwork. In this area Mercedes-Benz were not to disappoint, the sensationally sleek and low two-seater coupé featuring the then unique ‘Gullwing’ doors, so essential to maintain rigidity with the spaceframe tubular chassis.
The return to motorsport saw impressive victories both at Le Mans and in the Carrera Panamericana, creating an instant demand - from the North American market in particular - for a production version of this outstanding competition car. As production model components had been widely used in development of the ultra-high performance sports car, Mercedes-Benz were well placed to respond quickly to an initial order for 1,000 cars from its American agents. The ‘Gullwing’ styling, instantly recognisable and uniquely distinctive, was retained for the production models and power was supplied by a dry-sumped version of the 300-Series, 2,996cc, straight-6 engine, dramatically inclined to reduce bonnet height. Fuel injection was an innovative feature in a production car and in this form the 3-litre engine delivered a purposeful 210bhp, driving through a four-speed gearbox and ensuring that the Mercedes ‘supercar’ was the fastest automobile on the road in its era. A top speed of 225kph was attainable with precision handling enhanced by coil spring and double wishbone front suspension, with high pivot swing axles at the rear. Little wonder then that Mercedes-Benz proved the force to be reckoned with in such demanding endurance events as the Tour de France and the Mille Miglia.
This superbly presented and definitive Mercedes-Benz must surely be one of the finest ‘Gullwings’ to come to the market recently, a photo documented restoration having been executed by Graber AG in Switzerland between December 1984 and May 1986. The fitting of 1961 300SL Roadster disc brakes is a positive benefit for today’s sporting owner. A competitor in the 1991 Mille Miglia, this car has subsequently taken part in other events of similar calibre while enjoying also an impressive concours d’élégance record, being exhibited at such prestigious gatherings as the Concorso Nardi, Concorso di Via della Spiga and others. It has featured in a television programme for Mediaset Channel, ‘Non Solo Moda’, filmed in Sicily and recorded on a VHS cassette offered with the car. This magnificent coupé is presented in silver livery with beige leather interior and equipped with rare original factory fitted luggage. It is ASI homologated, no. 2161, and Italian registered.


Ce superbe exemplaire du fameux ‘Papillon’ est certainement l’un des plus beaux présenté sur le marché suite à une restauration conduite en Suisse par Graber AG entre décembre 1984 et mai 1986. La monte de freins à disques provenant du 300SL Roadster de 1961 est un véritable plus pour le conducteur sportif d’aujourd’hui. Ce coupé ‘Papillon’ a participé à de nombreux événements tels les Mille Miglia en 1991 et à de multiples concours d’élégance comme les prestigieux ‘Concorso Nardi’ ou ‘Concorso di Via della Spiga’. La voiture a fait une apparition télévisuelle sur Mediaset Channel dans l’émission ‘Non Solo Moda’ tournée en Sicile et dont les images transposées sur VHS viennent avec le véhicule.

Cette 300SL est offerte ici dans sa splendide livrée argent avec un intérieur en cuir beige et, fait rare, sa bagagerie ainsi que ses documents d’immatriculation italiens, son homologation A.S.I. (no.2161) et les photographies de la restauration.

Lot Details
Auction Les Grandes Marques a Monaco
Bonhams, Monaco, Monte Carlo
TypeCar
Lot Number237
Estimate€280000-€300000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€280000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€313000
Year1956
Condition rating0
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number1980406500177
Engine number1989806500188
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors