Automobiles of London

28 October 2009

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Lot 227

1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL AMG Coupé

  • Chassis no. 1980404500066

Sold for £462,000


380 hp, 5,956 cc AMG-tuned Mercedes-Benz M119 V8 with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and variable intake valve timing, electronic fuel injection, four-speed automatic gearbox, four-wheel independent and adjustable sport suspension, and four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5"



The original Mercedes-Benz 300SL is rightly regarded as one of the most brilliant and iconic sports car of the 20th century. Representing a fusion of competition success with elegance and inspired design, the original, road going car left an indelible mark on the motoring world and continues to be immensely desirable and collectable. As a result, the 300SL, whether in coupé or roadster form, is one of the most highly coveted automobiles on today’s collector car market.



The steady pace of technological advancements, particularly breakthroughs in electronics, engine management and suspension technology, have provided significant leaps in comfort, handling and sheer performance capabilities over the intervening five decades. The 1954 300SL “Gullwing” Coupé offered here has been updated by Mercedes-Benz’s own AMG tuning division and represents a perfectly executed marriage of the timeless 1954 Mercedes-Benz “Gullwing” body and chassis with all the performance and advanced technology of a modern high-performance automobile. According to AMG Project Manager Volker Niewig, the project was initiated following a request by the Royal Family of Brunei.



This particular car, which was completed in 2006, is based on an original 300SL from 1954 and retains the original steel body and aluminium bonnet and boot lid. The body was treated with KTL anti-corrosion coating, finished with metallic paintwork and crowned with 300SL brightwork and trim. Upon closer inspection, a number of subtle body modifications were skilfully executed, including the addition of electrically adjustable rear view mirrors on both sides, as well as a relocated fuel-filler pipe, with a new fuel-filler door at the right rear side of the vehicle. Finally, the exterior package is complemented by green-tinted glass all around, as well as a set of modern AMG light-alloy wheels – an instantly recognizable five-spoke design that cleverly alludes to the car’s origins.



Mechanically, the car features a fully restored original 300SL tubular chassis, which was modified to accommodate a modern AMG M119 V8 engine, displacing six litres and producing 380 horsepower, mated to a Mercedes-Benz W4A four-speed automatic gearbox. Complete with an exhaust catalyst in compliance with today’s stringent environmental regulations, the new engine provides sufficient thrust to propel the 300SL to an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h.



No mere engine swap, these bespoke cars cost in excess of 1 million Euros to build, and their technical packages are thoroughly modern in every respect. Handling was greatly improved by replacing the original swing-axle rear suspension system with a 1989-2001 R129 rear axle assembly. Furthermore, a Bilstein adjustable sports suspension pack was added, as were power-operated AMG C36 front brakes, W124 (E-Class) rear brakes and power-assisted steering. Road grip and steering response also benefit from a set of low profile, high-performance tires, which are sized 235/45 X 17 in front, with 245/45 X 17 tires at the rear.



The car’s cockpit continues to display the original layout, with the exception of the fully adjustable, leather-trimmed Recaro seats, three-point safety belts and a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel. The Nappa leather upholstery extends to the centre console and the lower door panels, contrasting stitching and velour carpeting, as well as luxurious Alcantara covering for the A-column, the headliner and the upper doorframes. The dashboard and the rear luggage shelf are trimmed in leather as well, while carbon fibre is utilised for the piano black instrument panel.



Other subtle interior touches include a steering-column lock for heightened security, as well as a complete set of original 300SL instruments which were cleverly adapted to modern technology and electronic operation. A modern air-conditioning and heating system has been fitted for enhanced comfort, and the entertainment system includes a classically styled Becker radio, complete with a six-disc CD changer and an iPod link, supported by a high-end multi-channel amplifier, speaker system and discreet windscreen-mounted antenna. An additional set of floor mats, as well as a pair of chrome plated door entrance plates with an engraved dedication, round out the luxuriously appointed interior.



Just 11 300SLs were modified by AMG between 1996 and 2009, with five of the cars completed for the Brunei Royal Family and six additional cars for select AMG customers. Of these 11 cars, 8 were coupés, of which four were right-hand drive. According to AMG, all of the cars were built to individual customer orders and specifications, with no further examples expected to be produced. No catalogues, press releases or any other information is available on this completely bespoke project.



Upon completion, each modified 300SL was track-tested by AMG. Given the dramatically enhanced handling and performance upgrades, the car performs exceptionally well with levels of refinement and quality to match the exacting standards of both AMG and Mercedes-Benz.



The AMG light alloy wheels and electrically operated rear-view mirrors were fitted to this particular example upon the original client’s request, but the next owner could easily fit period-style mirrors and wheels if desired. The 300SL has been recently serviced by AMG in Germany and, as offered, complies with Euro2 exhaust-emission requirements. It is currently registered in the UK on 1954 period correct licence plates. It also comes complete with its original 300SL registration documents, as well as an additional German TuV Certificate.



With no other cars planned for production, the offering of this AMG-modified Gullwing is an opportunity not to be missed. Who said you can’t have the best of both worlds?

Addendum

Please note that, contrary to the catalogue description, this Lot remains under temporary import from Singapore and will be subject to local VAT and import duties if it remains in the EU.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

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@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

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

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more