Over 65 years later, this 300SL continues to amaze. There is a reason why it is the only car with a production number over 1,000 that commands seven-figure price tags. Each one of them is special in their own way and some will argue it is up there with the greatest cars ever produced. These cars are not for the faint of heart or those with the tight wallet. Despite having full factory support from Mercedes-Benz and a very active community, they don’t change hands all that often. Public sales are few and far between given the production numbers, and when they do sell, it’s usually in the headlines.
This 1955 up for sale in California is said to have been been in private hands for the past 40 years and taking a look at it, I could buy it – the story, at least. This is not a restored car or even an all that well maintained one judging by the description, but that doesn’t seem to deter this well-known dealer asking the moon for it.
And now for something completely different.
Postwar Germany was a veritable wasteland thanks to the National Socialist’s ambition and policies – not to mention non-stop bombing of any industrial (and some non-industrial) areas for several years. So while the German unconditional surrender in early May, 1945 did not hold the same punitive conditions that the Versailles Treaty had, nevertheless Germany would take quite a while to rebound economically. As a result, it was German microcars which first established themselves as the go-to for consumers. And, the Germans were quite good at building many varied designs; you’ll of course be familiar with the BMW Isetta, but I have also looked at the Messerschmitt KRs, DKWs and NSUs. But today’s car was one even I had never heard of. And it was the first.
The Fuldamobil derived its name from the German town where it was conceived – Fulda – smack dab in the middle of Germany. In the late 1940s, a duo of newspaper employees got funding from a Bosch distributor in Fulda, and the early 1950s series production of the Type N began. Reportedly 380 were completed before 1955, by which time it had already been redesigned into the more rounded Type S that you see on these pages. The Type S that emerged was designed with rounded panels to allow subcontractors to produce them more quickly, and the entire design was then licensed to several producers. Series 1, like you see here, was built by the Nordwestdeutscher Fahrzeugbau in Wilhelmshaven. These cars carried the ILO Motorenwerke 197cc single cylinder motor and a claimed 673 were made:
Here is a special one. This is a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing AMG. You are probably thinking to yourself that ”300SL Gullwing” and ”AMG” don’t go together and up until the year 1996, you would be correct. That is because in 1996, AMG began taking original W198 Gullwing and Roadsters, and putting modern AMG drivetrains and interiors in them. Who thought this was a good idea? The Royal Family of Brunei. Remember him? According to AMG, 11 of these cars were produced from 1996 to 2008 with five going to the Royal Family and the other six going to qualified AMG customers. The rumored price tag at the time was over €1,000,000 thanks to AMG literally having to rebuild these cars from a bare metal shell.
This 1955 model that was converted in 2000 is one of only two right hand drive cars built. It was imported to Japan when the conversion was wrapped up and has been with its only owner ever since. Now it is coming up for auction in Tokyo, Japan soon. But first, lets take a look at what exactly a 300SL Gullwing AMG is:
About a month ago I looked at a unique 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300d Adenauer in beige over green leather interior. It wasn’t perfect, nor advertised to be, but looked great and came in at a fair price. I went on about how these Adenauers are overlooked in the grand scheme of classic Mercedes and undervalued for what they actually are. Even compared to the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, you aren’t giving up anything in terms of styling and certainly not reliability. Today, I came across a 1955 300b up for sale in Vancouver, British Columbia that looks just as good with an even better price.
You see the photos. No introduction needed here. This 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL painted in Ivory hails from the Boston area where it has been in the same family since it has been purchased new in late 1955. It has been driven, used as a college car, modified, raced, modified some more and thoroughly enjoyed it’s entire life. As it goes, this once toy has now turned into a winning lottery ticket for the lucky family that has held on to this W198 all these years but like almost all the 300SLs out there, there is a story for every one.
I can’t say enough about the 300SL. I feel like like each individual W198 has its own look, its own aura. Coming up for auction soon, this particular 1955 Gullwing is no different. Sporting Dunkelblau paint with the matching Rudge-Whitworth center-lock wheels, it is a stunner. The interior is spotless, it has the matching luggage, the paint shines like new; in short, it’s almost a perfect 300SL.
Model: 300SL Gullwing
Engine: 3.0 liter inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed manual
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing
Chassis no. 198.040.4500116
Engine no. 198.980.4500136
I must admit I’m no W198 expert. These cars are so far out of my league that I can’t even afford to be near one. It’s a different world when you are taking about cars that even the worst condition sell for a million dollars and that’s just not a world I’m apart of. But that doesn’t stop me from admiring from afar and appreciating how unbelievable these cars really are.
From what I understand here, this one is a steel body (rather than the rare and expensive alloy) car which makes it one of 829 for 1955. It does have the luggage set but I can’t say if it’s original and it doesn’t look like it has a radio. Another thing of note is that the steering wheel is a Nardi and not the original W198 wheel that is highly desirable.
The auctioneer should just start this car at a million then go from there because I think this 300SL will be pulling some serious coin. This last W198 that came up for auction earlier this month sold for $1,457,500 and wasn’t even close to the same level as this one. It wouldn’t surprise me if it closed in on the $2,000,000 mark given its condition. There is no end in sight for the values of W198s and this car will probably be one of the best ones we’ll see in awhile.
We used to run a feature called “Heap of the Week”, and while it’s something we decided we weren’t generally known for, it was a fun feature. It allowed us to look at vehicles that had potential or were potential struggles; rare cars or just cars that are rarely seen. It’s another expression of automotive enthusiasm – anyone can walk down to a Porsche dealership with enough money and buy what will certainly be a classic someday if you keep the miles low enough and condition good. However, to take something neglected and return it to pristine shape? That’s the domain of a different type of enthusiast, one who sees the potential through the years of neglect and anticipate a result that could be considered near impossible. There’s also a different sect of enthusiasts who appreciate patina; the worn perfection of years of neglect, but also the specter of countless stories. Throw a particularly rare model into the mix, and you have what could potentially be a show stopper:
The very rare and very head-turning 1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500 Continental Cabriolet that we featured back in October has come back up for sale again as a reserve auction. This car was featured in a recent issue of Excellence Magazine so perhaps the seller hopes to capitalize upon that exposure in the search for a new owner of this lovely machine. This is, without question, the most striking 356 we’ve ever come across as well as a unique piece of Porsche history.
The below post originally appeared on our site October 31, 2014:
We’ve shown quite a few 911 Speedsters over the past few months, either in the guise of the 3.2 Carrera or the 964 Carrera 2, but I cannot recall the last time we featured the original, the car those 911s were intended to recreate in spirit: the 356 Speedster. Here we have one of those rare examples: an Aquamarine Metallic 1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A Speedster. Released in 1954 the first Speedsters were quite a success, though the overall run would be short-lived as interest waned and the Speedster was replaced in 1958 with the Convertible D, followed by the 356 Roadster. With a spartan interior, minimalist top, and removable windscreen the Speedster was intended to appeal to weekend racers and those who wanted a no-frills, lower-cost, Porsche and during those initial years that’s exactly what it did, especially in the sunny environs of California. The short life the model lived has made the 356 Speedster a highly sought after collectible with the earliest examples being particularly noteworthy. Because we come across them so rarely they are almost always worth our attention.
I can’t even imagine the heads that would turn back in 1955 when this car rolled down the street. Now, I wasn’t alive in 1955 so perhaps I’m mistaken, but a bright orange convertible must have been a very rare sight. I know I haven’t seen many, if any, come across auctions of any marque, let alone a Porsche 356. Porsche has never shied away from producing cars in bright colors so that fact shouldn’t surprise me, yet here I am pretty surprised by this car. And before we wonder, this is the original color: a paint-to-sample Orange that Porsche specially had formulated to suit the original buyer’s desire. What better car to showcase on Halloween! This 1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1500 Continental Cabriolet is one of the most highly sought after models in the Porsche portfolio. While the 356 Cabriolet was produced for many years, those branded as the Continental Cabriolet were only produced for the 1955MY in the American market before Ford claimed naming rights to the Continental. While that may be a somewhat esoteric distinction, it is nonetheless a marker that separates these cars from other Cabriolets produced during this period. As a vintage piece of Porsche history this has it all!