Paris

5 February 2014

Lot 32

1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

To be auctioned on Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sold for €823.200

  • Chassis no. 198.042.7500236
  • Engine no. 198.980.7500307
  • Body no. 198.042.7500153


215 bhp (DIN), 240 bhp (SAE), 2,996 cc overhead-camshaft inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, coil-spring independent front suspension, and coil-spring single point swing-axle rear suspension. Wheelbase: 2,400 mm

  • Matching numbers
  • Body-off restoration by German marque specialist
  • Retrofitted with disc brakes, Euro headlights, and a 3.25 rear axle
  • Original radio, tool kit, and jack


The spectacular Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing was in production for just three years, and during this time, only 1,400 cars were built, largely by hand, in Stuttgart’s finest tradition. Yet, despite the low production volume, Daimler-Benz remained sufficiently convinced of the value of an expensive, image-leading sports car as part of its model line-up to develop an improved open version, resolving the well-documented ventilation issue associated with the Gullwing.



A modified 300 SL Roadster chassis was first spotted in the summer of 1956 at Stuttgart, by the German magazine Auto, Motor und Sport. The improved 300 SL Roadster debuted in the spring of 1957 at the Geneva Motor Show. By the end of that year, the final 70 of the 1,400 Gullwing Coupés and the first 618 of the 1,858 300 SL Roadsters were assembled.



Amongst the Roadster’s many advancements was a lowered central section of the lightweight 300 SL space frame chassis, which created improved entrance and egress. The chassis also featured smaller sills and enlarged doors. Whilst strength was maintained, nonetheless, with the addition of diagonal struts that braced the lowered side sections to the rear tubular members. At the rear, the spare tyre was repositioned below the boot floor, necessitating a smaller fuel tank but maintaining reasonable luggage space.



The Roadster’s suspension was fine-tuned by the repositioning of the single-pivot rear swing axle and the addition of a coil spring that was mounted transversely above the differential and linked to the two axle halves by a vertical strut, which allowed for the use of softer rear springs, thus providing a more comfortable ride and improved handling. Coupled with fatter tyres and a wider track, the Roadster exhibited none of the prior Coupé’s tricky handling characteristics. This specific feature was borrowed from the W196 Grand Prix racing car.



These revisions added some 250 pounds, with the majority of which being attributed to the convertible top and its mechanisms. The snug-fitting roof retracted fully into a well behind the seats, and it was covered with a hinged panel, which made for a sleek, disappearing top body line. Regardless, the car remained an excellent performer, with a factory-claimed 137 mph top speed.

The Roadster offered here was originally delivered in the United States, and it resided in Maryland and California for many years. More recently, it has been exquisitely restored by noted Mercedes-Benz marque specialist Lars Rombelsheim, and it is noteworthy for having an extraordinary number of original major components. The body, engine, and axles are all original and exactly as delivered, with no components replaced, and the car is finished in the same colour combination as original: Black with tan leather upholstery, which is in the correct original grain and pattern.



For everyday driving excellence, the car has been fitted with disc brakes on all four wheels. A modern cooling system with engine pre-heating was installed, along with an electronic ignition and a rear axle rebuilt to the European 3.25:1 ratio, for better high-speed performance. The Roadster still has its original Becker Mexico radio, tool set, and jack, as well as its original manual and service book. European headlamps, one of the most desirable 300 SL Roadster features, were sourced and installed.



The 300 SL Roadster has gone down in history as one of the finest and most desirable sporting cars of its generation. There are beautifully restored examples, and there are cars that are well-sorted for fast driving by nimble hands that are clad in string-back gloves. Offered here is the best of both worlds, and it is ready to bring excitement into a new home.






Moteur six cylindres en ligne, 1 ACT, 2 996 cm3, 215 ch (DIN)/240 ch (SAE), boîte manuelle à quatre rapports, suspension avant indépendante à ressorts hélicoïdaux, essieu arrière brisé à pivot unique. Empattement: 2 400 mm.



  • Numéros concordants
  • Carrosserie sortant de restauration par des spécialistes allemands
  • Rééquipée de freins à disque, phares européens et pont 3,25 :1
  • Radio, outillage et cric d’origine




La spectaculaire Mercedes-Benz 300 SL « papillon » ne connut que trois ans de production au cours desquels 1 400 voitures seulement furent construites en grande partie de façon artisanale selon les meilleures traditions de Stuttgart. Mais en dépit de ce faible volume de production, Daimler-Benz était convaincu de l’intérêt d’inclure dans sa gamme un modèle de sport coûteux et vecteur d’une image d’excellence au point de développer une version décapotable et améliorée techniquement qui éliminait le trop connu problème d’aération posé par le coupé à portes « papillon ».



Un châssis modifié de 300 SL Roadster fut d’abord repéré à l’été 1956 à Stuttgart par le magazine allemand Auto, Motor und Sport. La 300 SL Roadster améliorée fit ses débuts au salon de Genève en mars 157. À la fin de l’année, les 70 derniers (sur 1 400) coupés « papillon » et les 618 premières 300 SL Roadster étaient achevés.



Parmi les nombreuses améliorations du Roadster, on notait l’abaissement de la section centrale du châssis allégé en treillis de la 300 SL qui permettait un accès à bord plus facile grâce à des seuils abaissés et à des portes agrandies. Mais la résistance à la flexion était conservée grâce à l’adoption de tirants diagonaux soudés entre les sections centrales abaissées et les traverses tubulaires arrière. La roue de secours repositionnée sous le plancher du coffre entraîna la réduction la capacité du réservoir tout en maintenant un volume de coffre raisonnable.



La suspension de la 300 SL Roadster fut révisée en repositionnant le pivot du demi-essieu oscillant et en introduisant un ressort hélicoïdal monté transversalement au-dessus du différentiel et articulé sur les deux demi-essieux par une biellette verticale, ce qui permit d’utiliser des ressorts arrière plus flexibles donnant un meilleur confort de marche et un comportement plus sain. Chaussé de pneus plus larges et doté d’une voie arrière supérieure, le Roadster ne présentait plus les réactions dynamiques souvent imprévisibles du coupé. Cette solution avait été empruntée à la voiture W196 de Grand Prix.



Ces évolutions avaient introduit un surpoids de 112 kg environ dont la plus grande partie provenait du capotage et de son mécanisme. La capote très bien ajustée se repliait en totalité derrière les sièges dans un compartiment que venait recouvrir un panneau articulé afin de rétablir une ligne de carrosserie épurée. Quoi qu’il en soit, la voiture demeurait très performante avec une vitesse de pointe de 220 km/h (donnée usine).

La 300 SL Roadster proposée ici fut livrée neuve aux Etats-Unis où elle résida pendant de nombreuses années dans le Maryland et en Californie. Superbement restaurée récemment par le réputé spécialiste Mercedes-Benz Lars Rombelsheim, elle est remarquable par le nombre extrêmement élevé d’organes majeurs d’origine. Caisse, moteur et essieux sont d’origine et tels qu’ils ont été livrés sans éléments remplacés. La voiture est peinte dans la même teinte qu’à sa sortie d’usine, en noir avec sellerie fauve avec un cuir de texture identique et présentant les mêmes motifs.



Pour en faciliter la conduite au quotidien, la voiture a été équipée de freins à disque sur les quatre roues. Un système de refroidissement avec préchauffage du moteur a été installé ainsi qu’un allumage électronique et un rapport final européen de 3,25 :1 pour une vitesse de pointe maximale. La 300 SL Roadster possèdent son récepteur de radio Becker Mexico d’origine, son jeu d’outillage et son cric ainsi que son manuel et son carnet d’entretien d’origine. Des projecteurs européens, un des équipements le plus appréciables sur la 300 SL Roadster, ont été trouvés et installés.



La 300 SL Roadster est entrée dans l’histoire comme une des plus belles automobiles sportives de sa génération. Il en existe de magnifiques exemplaires restaurés et d’autres très préparés pour être pilotés par des amateurs de performances pures. Celle-ci réunit le meilleur des deux écoles pour la plus grande satisfaction du passionné et du sportif.

Addendum

Please note that this vehicle includes an original owner's manual with dealer stamps through 1967, an owners personal log, a service book, early California registrations, oil change receipts, as well as a CD with the history of a complete nut & bolt restoration.

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

aclassick@rmauctions.com

+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

aweaver@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
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

aabaci@rmauctions.com

+49 (0) 40 441 95 737
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

asabatie-garat@rmauctions.com

+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

dwarrener@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
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

drose@rmauctions.com

+1 617 513 0388
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

dgould@rmauctions.com

+1 954 566 2209
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

gduff@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
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

ikelleher@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

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

Jack Boxstrom

jboxstrom@rmauctions.com

+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

mgirardo@rmauctions.com

+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

mfairbairn@rmauctions.com

+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

pwallman@rmauctions.com

+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

Rob Myers

rmyers@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
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

smyers@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
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

vmandzak@rmauctions.com

+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