1956 Mercedes-Benz L319 Truck

Update 10/1/18: Sold for $5,456. That’s an expensive lump of rust!

Here is something I don’t normally see. This is a 1956 Mercedes-Benz L319 Truck up for bid in California of all places. As you can see, it is very old and very rusty. More on that later. The story with the L319 trucks and vans are they were a light commercial vehicle that were larger than a standard delivery van, but smaller than a conventional light truck of the time. The L319 is essentially the grandfather of the now very common Mercedes-Benz Sprinter that is still the go-to van for a number of industries. This 1956 in Chico, California has pretty much reached the end of its life span, but don’t put it past some trendy business to buy it and put flowers in the bed to take cutesy Instagram photos with.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1956 Mercedes-Benz L319 Truck on eBay

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1956 Volkswagen Beetle

Last week we looked at a variety of vintage, air-cooled Volkswagens, with one very important model conspicuously missing from the lineup: the Beetle. We’ll make up for lost time this Monday with this 1956 Oval Window Beetle for sale in Michigan. This brightly colored example is sporting a twin carbureted 1800 cc engine and a 12 volt electric system conversion, sitting on chrome wheels with Porsche style hubcaps. With some period correct details, this People’s Car pulls off a very rich look with a price to match.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1956 Volkswagen Beetle on eBay

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1956 Mercedes-Benz 300Sc Coupe

Yesterday, Carter featured one of Mercedes-Benz’s pre-war greats, the 540K Cabriolet A. Offered in coupe, sedan and cabriolet forms, this was the ultimate status symbol of 1930s Germany. It was fairly amazing, given the devastation of World War II, that German industry was able to get back on its feet so quickly and produce a vehicle like we see here, the 300Sc. While a lot of the technology that was put into this car drew on pre war technology, this was truly a successor to the magnificent and ornate 540Ks of two decades earlier. A bit baroque in appearance for the 1950s, this model would lend its fuel-injected engine into that Mercedes-Benz icon, the 300SL Gullwing. This example for sale in California is one of less than 100 produced, restored to concours condition.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300Sc on eBay

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1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL in original condition

$_4 (1)

We all dream about finding that holy grail in the barn, but it usually takes a lot of luck, years of tracking a rumor or lobbying a sometimes reluctant owner to sell off a vehicle that has been in the family for ages. Sometimes, though, you stumble across one, like I did with this 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing in original condition. This one is on sale from a German dealer but the car is currently located in the US. It’s not every day you’d shell out $1.4 million for a fixer upper, but they’re only original once. Will this car make a trek back to the homeland or will someone here on these shores snap it up before it shoves off to the port?

Click for details: 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL on Mobile.de

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1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL v. “1956” HMDE 300SL Replica

There are a lot of famous cars that I dream about owning but just aren’t realistic. I’d love a Lancia Stratos, for example. And a Porsche 917K. But since my bank account doesn’t currently contain quite enough commas in the balance statement to make that occur, they’re going to remain dreams. Of course, for reasonable amounts you can buy quite convincing replicas of these cars; Hawk makes a very good Stratos copy, and RCR makes one killer-looking 917K knockoff. While purists decry these fakes as degradation of the brand, when well executed I find these replicas really intriguing. They offer an opportunity for not only mere mortals to own them, but more importantly they offer people who would never get to see them driven a chance to experience the shape in the wild. Another such car that gets traded for the same amount as the GDP of some small African nations is the Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing”. Considered by many to be the first “supercar”, the 300SL’s performance and design was otherworldly in the 1950s and though it’s not the most expensive Mercedes-Benz model they remain firmly out of the grasp of any but the most well-heeled enthusiasts. Like many Ferrari models, Mercedes-Benz has carefully sought out and squashed any attempts at building replicas, and few that remain floating around look close to the original. But today I have both a stunning original example and a reasonably accurate replica that you could actually buy and drive. Is the replica worth spending money on, though?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL on Hemmings

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1956 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

It seems these days the blueprint to own a classic car in good condition is to go to a big-headline auction and pay ever-increasing amounts to get the best and most unique example of a particularly popular run of car possible. Look at the 911 and E30 M3, though they’re not alone; the frenzy over prices has created its own “Hemi” moment as prices double on a year over year basis. Where does that leave enthusiasts? With plenty of options, thank you very much. If you want a classic Porsche like the 356 or early 911s but just can’t stomach the incredible bills associated with those cars, why not consider the early Karmann Ghia? Seriously, to someone who was uninitiated, if you took the badges off of each and swapped them around, it would be easy to believe that the 356 was a Volkswagen product and the Karmann Ghia was the Porsche – its sleek lines look, if anything, more sporty than the 356. Classicly styled, long and low and with that trademark flat-four soundtrack that drove several generations, the Karmann Ghia is one of the few classic German cars that is still quite affordable but will make you feel like a million dollars wherever you pull up – especially when presented in the condition of today’s 1956 example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1956 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia on eBay

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1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Competition

When I think of cars that moved along the art of the automobile, a few come to mind. The original Mini. The Citroën DS. The Audi Ur Quattro. And this car, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing. A road going race car for the street, the 300SL was the brainchild of importer Max Hoffman, to bring the power of the W194 300SL to the street. Beautiful as it was, the car did have its compromises, most notably the high door sills, necessitated by the shape of the space frame underneath. Only 1,400 Gullwings were built over the course of four years. There was even a more special, alloy bodied version of the Gullwing, known as the Competition. Only 29 of these harder edged 300SLs were built and they don’t come up for sale. When they do, rest assured a princely sum of money will exchange hands. This 300SL for sale in California doesn’t have the alloy body, but documentation shows that it was originally built with the Competition engine, Competition suspension, wider Rudge knock-off wheels and Competition tires.

Year: 1956
Model: 300SL
Engine: 3.0 liter inline six
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 450 mi
Price: $1,495,000

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Competition on Hemmings Motor News

One of a handful of “In-House/Factory-Prepared” competition 300SLs built. Assembled and tested repeatedly by the Mercedes Benz Factory in the December of 1955 and then shipped new by truck to Switzerland, February 13th, 1956. The only document released publicly by the Mercedes Factory on this 300SL is the finally assembly record or “data card.” It identifies in addition to many other specific details that this particular example was built with: -Competition “NSL” Engine -Competition Suspension -Competition Wider SLR type Rudge Racing Wheels -Competition Racing Tires. The engine uses dual-point ignition, revised ignition and cam timing and a different fuel-injection metering unit and internal governor which allows the engine to produce 250bhp rather than the standard 215bhp of the regular production 300SL. Lighter weight is acheived thoughout the car as with the use of an alloy starter motor rather than steel. Visually in addition to the obviosly wider SLR wheels is the use of an 8,000rpm tachometer and corresponding 270kph odometer.

What happened after being completed and leaving the Mercedes Benz Factory is one of the greatest mysteries we have ever encountered. The car was built for endurance racing as confirmed by the Mercedes Factory on multiple occasions going back to the early 1970s but without identifying individual drivers and specific races. Nothing is known at this time about where this 300SL raced and by whom until it surfaced four years later in an old race shop in Rome, Italy. It remained stored there as last raced until the mid-1960s when an up and coming Italian/American actor named Anthony Russel discovered her by chance and purchased her. He did not know anything other than it was an old race car and he felt it fit his image and would help his acting career to be seen in such a car. Russel had professional still photos taken circa 1964/65 by the famed Renaldo Tridici Studio in the beautiful Borghese Gardens of Rome, one of these photos still exists to this day accompanies the car upon its sale. Russel never raced the car but did have problems finding replacement tires as they were were wider competition versions whic were not easy to come by in Italy. The car also required high-octane, premium fuel which was still not easy to obtain in much of Italy at the time.

In the late 1960s Russel returend to the States and moved along with his 300SL to Beverly Hills, California where he took up acting again. He did not have the success he had hoped for and this Mercedes was sold to the aspiring collector, Ron Kellogg in 1969. Kellogg was the first to correspond with the Mercedes Factory about the car and was told it was an endurance racer but without specific reference to drivers or particular events. Kellogg believed it to be a Mille Miglia veteran but could never find supporting documentation. He sold the car to then 300SL International Group President, Mitch Leland in 1971. Leland not long after began a decade plus long restoration of the car with Scott Grundfor. It did not start out as a restoration according to Leland but a simple service and oil change at Scott’s. The car however remained there on and off again over the next eleven years undergoing what was at the point the most comprehensive restoration ever undertaken on such a vehicle. The engine, gearbox, suspension and brakes were all rebuild by legendary 300SL Racer, Don Ricardo and now known to be the last examples that he completed as a matched set.

Upon completion of the work, a very well know poster was made of this 300SL and it was sold for many years commercially through Mercedes Benz’s Franchised dealers. In the mid-1980s to commemorate the centenary celebration of Mercedes Benz, Pop Artist Andy Warhol was commissioned to do a series on the 300SL Gullwing. His work was based on Leland’s original poster which Mercedes provided to Warhol rather than having to provide him with an actual vehicle to have to work with. Print copies of several different versions of Warhol’s work can be obtained easily today with copies almost always available on Ebay. Not long after the restoration was completed, Scott approached Leland with an offer he could not refuse and the car was shipped to Tokyo, Japan were it joined the very private and secretive HATA Collection. After more than twenty years in storage and nearly forgotten to the world, we acquired this incredible machine. Have no doubt, this is without exception one of the most important non-alloy bodied, full-competion 300SL Gullwings in existence.

Last year, an alloy bodied Gullwing sold at Gooding & Company for a record price of $4.62 million, including auction fees. If this was an alloy bodied SL, you would be looking at a $2 to $3 million car here, at least. Your garden variety Gullwings are pulling anywhere between $700,000 to $1,000,000 these days, so I would say the asking price here is just about realistic, given the history and that you are getting some exclusive features to set this car apart from the rest of the Gullwings out there.

-Paul