Two million bucks well spent? Mercedes' Gullwing classic could be yours
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This stunning 1954 example of the renowned Mercedes-Benz 300SL coupé, more commonly known as the “gullwing” because of the way its top-hinged doors open upwards, is coming up for auction in late July when it is expected to sell for between £850,000 and £1,000,000 — or NZD$1.6–$1.9m.
What is more, the 300SL being sold by Silverstone Auctions during its sale at the Silverstone Classic historic race meeting on July 27-28 is a very early example of what is arguably the most famous Mercedes and its first UK owner was Peter Warr, the former manager of the Team Lotus F1 squad from 1969-76 then between 1981 and 1989.
Only 1,400 cars were produced and early cars such as this one are particularly sought-after. It even has the desirable optional “belly pans” that were fitted under the car to improve its aerodynamics.
This 300SL was supplied new on December 27, 1954 to Hoffman’s of New York, the famed importer of luxury European cars to the East Coast of the US during the Fifties.
Its proprietor Max Hoffman is said to be instrumental in persuading Mercedes to make the 300SL as a road-going version of one of its sports racers to satisfy the booming US market for exotic cars. It featured a 2,996cc, six-cylinder engine with the novelty for the time of fuel-injection.
His acumen was vindicated by the fact that approximately four-fifths of Fifties SLs were sold across the Atlantic and helped to transform the marque’s staid image.
When it arrived with Hoffman’s in the US it was finished in Mercedes racing silver. It was subsequently painted bright red, which is how it appeared when Warr imported the car from the state of Arizona in 1989. It has also been fitted with a sports camshaft upgrade and, more recently, electronic power steering (a non-original fitment, which can be removed if required).
A comprehensive history file shows thorough and diligent maintenance by 300SL specialists. There is a plethora of parts invoices but, most important of all, the fuel-injection pump was completely overhauled and rebuilt in Germany only two years ago. The gearbox and brakes have also been recently overhauled, including the brake drums and master cylinders.
Nick Whale, managing director of Silverstone Auctions, said: “This car comes with an impressive history file and with a unique first UK owner being the late Peter Warr, who was team manager for the Lotus Formula 1 team.”
“He imported the car from Arizona in 1989 and subsequently enjoyed it until it was purchased by our vendor in August 1993.”
“What is really special about this Gullwing is that it is an early car and features the highly desirable full belly pans.”
- Telegraph UK
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