Fewer cars assimilate better in a (literal) sea of eight-figure yachts and apartments than the winged wonder itself, the 300SL Gullwing. Anyone in Monaco can buy an Aventador, 812 Superfast, or Veyron, ride around the entire time in first gear, and call themselves a connoisseur of fine automobiles. The exact opposite of that is true in those cases, and a very quick remedy of that is today’s car, a 1956 300SL Gullwing in Strawberry Red Metallic. This is a car with style and taste, although the exhaust doesn’t backfire and shoot flames when driving past various casinos. Also, it is extremely expensive to purchase, maintain, repair, insure, and really hard to get in and out of wearing anything other than athletic clothes. Still, it is worth all those sacrifices and more.
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.
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:
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.
Last week I checked out a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL in Hellgrün which is a lovely, as well as much cheaper, alternative to the big brother 300SL. Well, today we have the big brother and believe it or not, it also is a 1957 in Hellgrün. Just to top it all off, it was owned by “The King of Hollywood” Clark Gable and has just 1,368 miles. But, as you might have guessed, this 300SL comes with a much higher price tag than the 190SL. Much, much higher.
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 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?
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?
The stunning 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL I wrote up in March remains available for just under 2 million dollars. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a deal you’re not likely to find one soon as these Gullwings aren’t likely to depreciate anytime soon. So, as with last time, just enjoy the pictures!
The below post originally appeared on our site March 23, 2014:
It’s been nearly a year since Paul wrote up a beautiful 300SL Roadster, but that isn’t because these rare Mercedes-Benz supercars aren’t of interest to us. The reality is they remain dreams to all but the most well-heeled of well-heeled individuals, and in recent years that’s become even more true for the most desirable of the lot, the Gullwing Coupe. When I was young, it was rare to see these cars but they turned up at vintage events, raced in hill-climbs and occasionally even on track. But that was back in the days when a good SL would set you back around $150,000 – $200,000. A lot of money for sure, but compared to these days it wasn’t even the amount of a restoration on one. Over the past year, prices on these iconic cars have more than doubled with no end in sight; now, a top condition one car will set you back approximately 1.8 million dollars – exactly the asking amount of this particular example: