Monterey

17 - 18 August 2012

Lot 250

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL 'Gullwing' Coupe

To be auctioned on Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sold for $1,171,500

  • Chassis no. 198 040 4500080
  • Engine no. 198 98 4500093


215 hp, 2,996 cc single overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine, Bosch mechanical fuel injection, four-speed manual gearbox, coil spring independent front suspension, coil spring swing-axle rear suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5"

• Immaculate concours restoration by Gullwing expert Rudi Koniczek
• Four owners from new
• Outstanding color combination
• Mercedes’ most revered postwar sports car

Few sports cars in the history of automobile manufacturing have attained the iconic status of the revered Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe, which combines a peerless racing pedigree with a truly innovative design. First appearing in 1952 as a racing sports car intended to return Mercedes to competition relevance, the 300SL was notable for its innovative lightweight space-frame chassis and a retuned version of engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut’s inline six-cylinder engine, which was already employed in the 300 sedans. Of course the most notable physical features of Sindelfingen designer Karl Wilfert’s beautiful coachwork were the roof-hinged doors, which were necessitated by the chassis’s high waist, thus giving the model its eventual nickname, the Gullwing.

Dominating nearly every race it entered, the 1952 300SL attained legendary status with wins at the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Carrera Panamericana, a cachet that was not lost on groundbreaking U.S. importer Max Hoffman. Since renowned for his savvy of the emerging American market for European sports cars during the 1950s, Hoffman made considerable efforts to convince Mercedes that a strong market existed for a roadgoing series-production version of the 300SL race car. His plea did not fall on deaf ears; at the 1954 International Motor Sports Show in New York, Mercedes debuted its answer to Hoffman’s requests: a luxurious new take on the racing Gullwing.

In addition to a more luxurious cabin upholstered in leather, the 300SL coupe featured a number of improvements over its racing forebear, including doors that were cut substantially lower for easier entry and exit. The road car also significantly improved on the race car’s power output by employing mechanical fuel injection, good for 44 hp more than the racer, and is notable as the first production automobile to feature the since widely-employed method of fuel induction. Produced in a modest quantity of 1,374 examples over a three-year production run, the 300SL Gullwing has since been elevated to a near-mythical height almost unequaled in postwar collectible sports cars.


Embodying all of the sensational qualities that make the 300SL Gullwing such an iconic car, this beautiful example boasts a mere four owners from new and the expert attention of one of the 300SL niche’s leading names. According to factory records, this strapping Gullwing completed assembly on November 18, 1954 and was shipped to New York City one day later. Subsequently, it was initially purchased in early-1955 by a resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, this car is one of just 167 examples constructed between August and December of 1954.

Within time passing to a second owner in the Ann Arbor area, this car eventually came into the custody of Rudi Koniczek, a renowned restorer of 300SL models based in Victoria, British Colombia, Canada. Trained by Mercedes-Benz technicians, Mr. Koniczek has been in the business of restoring Gullwings for over 40 years, and many of his restorations have gone on to draw national recognition from venues as sophisticated as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and 300SL National Conventions. Mr. Koniczek soon treated this wonderful Gullwing to a rotisserie restoration that left no stone unturned. Every mechanical and cosmetic component was fastidiously restored to original factory standards or replaced with correct new-original stock parts. Likewise, the exterior was painstakingly refinished in a resplendently deep coat of black paint, complemented with an interior of dark green vinyl and plaid seats, both correct colors included in Mercedes-Benz 1954 livery offerings.

In early-2011, this car was acquired by its current owner, a bi-coastal enthusiast who maintains a fine collection of vintage automobiles at his estate in Montecito, California. Since then, the immaculately restored Gullwing has been maintained and tended as needed by Jack Bianchi, a well-known veteran of the area’s motorsports community and a respected sports car and race car mechanic. Mr. Bianchi attests that he has seldom seen a nicer 300SL Gullwing than this example, which he adds has accrued no more than 400 miles during current ownership. Used once to drive to the annual August collector car events of the Monterey Peninsula in California, this car has otherwise been garaged in a well-maintained state of storage, ever prepared for the possibility of its owner’s occasional arrivals and bouts of use.

The strength of Mr. Koniczek’s award winning restoration work continues to characterize this stunning Gullwing. The car’s magnificent exterior condition is matched by a beautifully detailed interior, engine compartment, and trunk, as well as the overwhelmingly authentic level of presentation in every mechanical part used. Further enriched by the presence of a matching set of luggage, a complete toolkit, photo-documentation of the restoration process, and a set of owners manuals, this arresting 300SL Gullwing lacks for nothing. It is a show-ready example that invites future ownership to make a competitive run at national-level concours d’elegance and Mercedes-Benz club events. It is among the finest examples available in today’s market and will doubtlessly draw the attention of any serious collector looking to acquire a premium-level early Gullwing.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

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California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

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Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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+1 212 894 1301
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Political Science. ... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Peter Giddings

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+1 925 831 2048
California, United States

A life-long car enthusiast, Peter joined RM’s California office with over half a century of experience in the automotive and rac... read more

Peter Blond

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Blond joined the RM Europe team in 2013 after being immersed in the collector car industry for more than 60 years. An... read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

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+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more

Jeff Whiteside

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Ontario, Canada

Jeff Whiteside joined RM Auctions as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer following almost three decades in a diverse r... read more