Mercedes-Benz 300

1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster | Monterey 2017
August 11, 2017 – 03:33 pm
Mercedes-Benz W186 - Wikipedia
  • One of the finest 300 SL roadsters available
  • Immaculate, documented restoration by West Coast 300 SL experts
  • Three-time concours Best in Class winner
  • Original matching-numbers drivetrain
  • Includes correct tool set, owner’s manual, and set of matching fitted luggage

At the 1957 Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz introduced a new version of the celebrated 300 SL wearing open coachwork, the 300 SL roadster. In an early suggestion of the increasing focus the manufacturer would place on luxury cars over the ensuing decades, the new roadster was above all a more refined car than its gull-winged predecessor.

There was no denying the 300 SL’s mechanical performance, which had decidedly improved in the roadster, with the updated six-cylinder engine receiving the competition camshaft used in the NSL racing Gullwings, good for a lift of 20 horsepower. Handling also benefited from a revised rear suspension with a lower axle pivot-point, minimizing the Gullwing’s tendency for oversteer. Despite the added weight of chassis reinforcement required by an open model, the roadster was every bit the performance car that the Gullwing had proven itself to be.

The roadster’s overwhelmingly luxurious character, however, generally obscured its performance capabilities. With a reclining soft top, the model was never subject to the stuffy cabin issues that beguiled the Gullwing, and the roadster’s redesigned tube frame afforded lower door sills, facilitating far easier access than the Gullwing’s challenging ingress and egress.

Interestingly, the Mercedes-Benz data card, which is on file, notes that this particular car was originally delivered on 18 July 1960, to the distributor in Panama! It was equipped to American specifications with English instruments, sealed-beam headlights, a removable hardtop, black soft top, and Becker Mexico radio with a Reims III adapter. Previous owners are noted in the Gull Wing Group’s Roadster Registry as Fred Di Girato, in 1974, and Ronald Kellogg of Whittier, California, in 1975. Later it was acquired by John Sorrell of Santa Barbara, then by the current owner nearly a decade ago.

In its current tenure the car was fully restored by Classic European of Vista, California, with extensive mechanical work by longtime Gull Wing Group member Steve Marx of Costa Mesa, who rebuilt the brakes, valvetrain, cooling system, transmission, rear axle, and clutch. Cosmetic work was performed by the noted Hjeltness Restoration in Escondido, including a refitted top, panel gap adjustments, and new show-quality chrome. The body is finished in Medium Blue (DB 350), with a matching factory-correct hardtop and blue soft top, and a correct beige interior. Inspection of the numbers notes that gearbox and engine both match the Mercedes-Benz data card. “Euro” headlights, widely considered more attractive than the U.S.-specification versions, were fitted.

Since completion of the restoration, the car has been very well maintained, with light driving about once a month to maintain it in good running order. A consummate showpiece, it has been exhibited three times, at the Palos Verdes Concours in 2013 and 2016, and the Los Angeles Concours d’Elegance in 2009, winning Best in Class at all three events. No expense was spared in making the car one of the best 300 SL roadsters in existence, and then to keep it that way. Further, the car is accompanied by thorough documentation of the restoration work, detailed down to receipts for many of the necessary parts. It is also complete with a correct tool set, owner’s manual, two catalogues, a tonneau cover, and a two-piece set of matching fitted luggage.

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