1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
Chassis no. 198.040.5500165
Engine no. M198.980.5500175
Body no. A198.040.5500164
215 hp, 2,992 cc SOHC six-cylinder engine with Bosch mechanical fuel injection, four-speed manual transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, coil spring and swing-axle rear suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.
Numbers-Matching example in desirable original colour combination
DB 180 Silver Metallic over Red Leather, Delivered with Rudge wheels
Previous owner had for 53 years, exceptionally well cared for, never restored.
Believed to be just two owners from new, 88,018 miles on odometer.
Mercedes-Benzs 300SL claimed 2nd in the Mille Miglia; 1-2-3 in the Berne, Switzerland, Sports Car Race; 1st and 2nd at Le Mans; 1-2-3-4 at the Nrburgring; and 1st and 2nd at La Carrera Panamericana. The Mexican Road Race had been an afterthought, with 300SL production slated to end beforehand, the racing car having accomplished what the factory set out to do. The companys U.S. distributor, Max Hoffman, spoke from his glassy Park Avenue showroom: there was a market in America for a fast, sexy Mercedes-Benz coupe, and a production version of the racing-bred 300SL, complete with the fascinating gullwing doors, necessitated by the unusual frame design, would be exactly it.
Appropriately, the production 300SL made its debut in the United States, not in Germany, a Mercedes first. The vast majority of the 1,400 cars produced between 1954 and early-1957 were delivered through Hoffman, to whose showrooms the rich and famous (or their chauffeurs) flocked. The kings of Jordan, Belgium, and Greece became owners in the first year of production, as did Argentinean dictator and former racing driver Juan Peron. Sophia Loren and Zsa Zsa Gabor, for perhaps the only time in their lives, struggled to outclass what they drove.
This beautiful Silver over Red Leather Rudge wheel Gullwing has benefitted from exceptionally long term ownership under the care of Rod Taylor. Rod bought the car 53 years ago and has owned several other 300SL in his lifetime. This was his pride and joy. He had the car painted twice, but never fully restored. It is visibly a survivor: you can tell by the intact concave star grill and welted eyebrows (two things that were commonly replaced in the event of an accident). The factory build sheet states that order number 664 115 was completed on March 19th 1955 and left the factory on March 29th, 1955, destined for Max Hoffman in the United States. It was sold new, we believe, to a Mr. Strowbridge in New Britain, CT and was later purchased by Rod Taylor, also a resident of CT.
This is an opportunity to own an unmolested Gullwing with a well known history. Rod was one of the tech gurus in the 300SL Gull Wing Group and worked on the car himself over the years. It is a fine example in the classic and iconic colour combination of Silver Grey Metallic over a Red Leather interior. The sporty option of Rudge-Whitworth knock-off wheels is also very desirable and nearly worth their weight in gold to collectors, as is the concave star grill. The welted eyebrows were only on the first few hundred cars, and the 29 alloy Gullwings. If we had to dream up a specification of Gullwing to own, this is it.