Paris

5-6 February 2014

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Lot 32

1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

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

Sold for €823.200


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.

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 9... 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. He is a life-long automobile enthusiast and ... 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

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... 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

Jonathan Sierakowski

jonathan@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... 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. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... 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