16-17 January 2014
1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
To be auctioned on Thursday, January 16, 2014
Sold for $1,045,000
- Chassis no. 198.042.8500244
- Engine no. 198.980.8500245
- Body no. 198.042.8500244
Wheelbase: 94.5 in.
- Mercedes-Benz’s iconic Roadster
- Finished in its original, rare, and beautiful color combination
- Recent extensive refinish and service by 300 SL experts Rudi & Company
- Matching-numbers example
To many, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL is an automobile that needs no introduction. American Mercedes-Benz importer Max Hoffman was convinced that a road-legal version of the successful W194 racer would be profitable in the United States. He knew that his clients would love the performance and styling of such a vehicle, so he lobbied the top brass at Mercedes-Benz to develop the car. Luckily for him, and us, Hoffman’s wish was granted.
The automobile that followed was nothing short of extraordinary. Sporting a chassis directly developed from lessons learned in campaigning the W194, the 300 SL was the first production automobile that used fuel injection as opposed to carburation, which was a technological advancement that allowed it to become the fastest street legal car of its day. When it premiered at the 1954 New York Auto Show, the public fell in love with the car not only for its performance but also for its breathtaking good looks and proportions. The design of the 300 SL would even catch the eye of Andy Warhol in 1986, when it was featured in a painting entitled Cars, which was commissioned by German art dealer Hans Meyer.
Max Hoffman wanted an open version from the very beginning, and after the success of the Coupe, a convertible version of the 300 SL was released, going on to attract even more buyers towards Mercedes-Benz’s most innovative sports car. Since the 300 SL would lose its top, engineers reinforced and modified the space-frame chassis to fit conventionally hinged doors, which simultaneously allowed for greater ease of entry by lowering the height of the chassis on the door line, albeit a small forfeiture of the original model’s character. Designers used this opportunity to make several slight changes to the 300 SL’s body, and many installed new headlights, a smaller grille opening, and fitted dual chrome strips on the side sills, to give the car a more streamlined and glamorous look. The Roadster was introduced in 1957, and it offered the performance and style that the Coupe was known for but with a dash of practicality and the thrill of open-air driving, making for a motoring experience that was second to none.
In order to keep performance on par with the Coupe, all Roadsters were offered with the more sporting NSL engine of the Coupe as standard configuration. This made the Roadster capable of top speeds that ranged from 133 to 155 mph, depending on the final drive ratio specified. Production on the Roadster and the iconic W198 platform stopped in early 1963, with 1,858 examples being produced, making it even more popular than its gull-winged predecessor.
Also like the Coupe, the Roadster was certainly the item to have for the jet-set in the late ’50s and early ’60s. The 300 SL Roadsters were favored by celebrities for its style and racing drivers for its performance and brilliant engineering, and they often found homes with just about anyone who appreciated fine machinery, and those who had the bank account to acquire it. With a list price of $11,000 when new, the style and performance it provided certainly came at a price. As with all great and historically important automobiles, it has retained that same persona to this day, and it remains amongst the world’s most desired cars.
This 1958 300 SL Roadster is finished in Mercedes-Benz Light Blue (DB 334) over a red (1079) leather interior, which is the color combination that is original to this car, according to its build sheet. This 300SL was originally destined for the North American market, but it found its way to the home of a collector in the Netherlands, where it was completely restored to its original color combination and the arguably more elegant European headlights were added. Sometime afterwards, this Roadster was repatriated to the United States by a Texan collector.
This matching-numbers 300 SL was purchased by a gentleman who has owned, over the past decade, nearly two dozen 300 SL Gullwings and Roadsters. This Roadster caught his attention because of the high-quality of workmanship that went into the restoration. Noting that some of the work was showing age, and a few other aspects were not as correct as they should be, he sent the car to the renowned 300 SL specialists at Rudi & Company in Victoria, British Columba, Canada, where Rudi and his team were given free reign to make this 300 SL Roadster proper, correct, and to factory specifications.
From front to back, Rudi & Company left nothing wanting for the next owner. Every piece of exterior trim was re-chromed; the exhaust tip was replaced; the taillights were replaced to European specifications, to complement the headlights; new rubber was added in areas, as well as a new old stock hood emblem; a chrome wheel was refinished; and the rocker panels were completely taken off and refinished to the high standards of the rest of the car. Under the hood, all black paint was correctly applied in the correct matte finish; all cad plating was redone; all-new correct hoses and clamps were added, as well as a new windshield washing system; the radiator was re-cored; the gas tank was re-lined; the timing and valves were set; and a major service was completed on the engine. The interior was also freshened, with new, correct sun visors, a new shift knob, new rubber floor mats, new window felts, and new speaker grilles. There were also many components that were correctly refinished, including the tonneau leather, the dash leather, and the steering column. The Roadster was road tested and then wet-sanded and polished before finally passing Rudi & Company’s intense scrutiny. The result speaks for itself: this 300 SL is quite simply stunning.
This very correct Roadster comes complete with color-matched two-piece fitted luggage, a tool roll, a jack, the rare Becker Mexico short wave radio, and an original owner’s manual. It ticks all the important boxes, and it is as delightful to drive as it is to look at.
As perhaps the most iconic model of Mercedes-Benz’s illustrious history, a 300 SL Roadster is a staple of any serious collection. They are beautifully engineered and designed, and they are incredible automobiles to drive, as they exhibit both timeless styling and more than respectable performance by today’s standards. With close to $40,000 dollars in refinishing and service by Rudi & Company, this Roadster is turn-key ready to take on a long tour or show at a local concours, and it exhibits a high level of factory correctness, down to all the correct stickers and markings in the engine bay. This SL is offered wearing a rare and interesting factory color combination and displaying wonderful mechanical and cosmetic condition, and it would be at home in any collection.
AddendumPlease note that contrary to the catalog this vehicle is being sold with "No Reserve".
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