Theme Week: 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing

Considered one of the most significant cars of the 20th century, the Mercedes-Benz Gullwing is a must have for top shelf car collection. Packed with technological firsts such as direct fuel injection, and a slippery body, the 300SL Gullwing was able to capture top five finishes in some of the most prestigious motorsport events such as Le Mans and the Mille Miglia, beating the more powerful, and established entries from the likes of Ferrari.

This single family owned example for sale in Essex, MA is a great opportunity to own a piece of automotive history.

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing on hemmings.com

One family owned since the late 1950s. All matching numbers. 66,000 original miles, complete engine rebuild less than 10,000 miles ago. Compression 155-165 across the board. Absolutely no rust or accident damage. Good paint, chrome, interior. Belly pans, some tools, manuals. Originally DB50 White with Red Leather. Now DB190 Graphite Gray with Red Leather. Chassis: 5500668. Engine: 5500707.

Because any member of the 1% can pick up a SLS AMG Gullwing, this is a car for the true Mercedes-Benz connoisseur. With only 1400 cars sold stateside, these are certainly rare, but not impossibly rare like the alloy bodied versions.

At $825K, this car is priced roughly where it should be. It’s by no means a top tier car, as it’s not the original color and needs a bit of love. This would make a great usable car, you can easily fit your golf clubs, yachting gear and the spoils from a serious shopping spree. On top of that you’ll be the 1% out of the 1%, and you really can’t beat that for exclusivity.

-Brian

Watkins Glen Vintage Grand Prix GCFS 2012 Audi & Elva

Back from this outstanding event where many a German car are out being put through their paces on the track with my annual post of the German cars for sale that caught my eye. The car that most caught my eye this year, was unfortunatley not for sale. It was a stunning 1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing that won the Concours d’Elegance for the weekend. What made it extra special though was this car was driven to the event from Massachusetts, we’re talking a journey of several hundred miles and hours. The owner, upon winning the top prize, took the microphone and remarked how concours cars should be used as they were intended and not trailered to events. This is a good reminder to those attending car shows that if you see a nice car and it has a few rock chips on the front, instead of being a dick and pointing them out, compliment the owner on actually having the balls to get the car on the road rather than using white gloved staff to drive the car the 10 yards off the enclosed trailer and onto the car show lawn. At the end of the weekend the Gullwing’s owner was hopping back into his multiple $100k car and driving back to MA, a journey I’m sure the car and driver both enjoyed. Click the images to see large photos of just how clean this car was despite the highway journey.

Ok on to my two picks for listings. This year the two I’ll post are at vastly different ends of the spectrum.

The first is a facelifted, late 1980s, Audi GT Coupe that needs some love.

Audi Coupe GT

These coupes have unique lines and are pretty hard to come by these days, despite their observed scarcity, other than the Quattro model, they remain quite affordable.

This one has relatively low mileage for the year, 86,000 miles, and a ask price of $1,200. It clearly shows some wear and tear issues. Fading logos, a few rust bubbles, worn interior, etc. I know we usually try to find finer automobiles than this, but this car looked lonely parked on the side of the road under the overcast sky, watching as millions of dollars worth of vintage street and race cars drove past. It has a manual and if it runs well it is certainly worth saving and I bet the seller can knock a couple hundred off the price. You can give your kid a pretty unique fun first car to work on with this on the cheap. A few hours of elbow grease and this car could be a lot prouder. You can see from the photos its not a bad 10 footer at all. I don’t want to post the seller’s phone number, but post a comment if you are interested and I’ll get it to you.

 

The other car for sale that I thought would be fun to list, it being a Grand Prix event and all, is this 1965 Elva Mk.VIIs racer.

1965 BMW powered Elva Mk.7s

The Elva 7s racers were tiny cars, barely coming up to the knee, and were powered by a range of under 2.0 liter engines. While Elva is a British car company, this race car is powered by a very German BMW engine and comes complete with a BMW badge out front. Some Elva cars, think Can-Am, were fitted with very much over 2.0 liter 500 horsepower V8s by McLaren, which must’ve been immensely scary to drive.

The car has eye catching looks, the covered headlights up front present a really nice smooth face. The looks maybe confused for a D type Jag or Porsche Spyder if you squint, but the Elva isn’t like either of those, though Porsche power was found in other Mk.7 Elvas.

This particular car is super fresh, it has a recent restoration in which everything has been gone over. Basically everything is new or rebuilt from the body to the chassis to the engine. Transmission is a Hewland unit which is loaded with new internals. The new parts on the car are too many to list. The owner also states that the car can handle a 6′ + driver thanks to some modifications.

The car is available through Lee Chapman Racing, http://www.leechapmanracing.com

Obviously this is going to run you a bit more than the Audi listed above, but I suspect it isn’t obscene. No price is given, but I’d bet we’re looking at something in the $150,000 range with it in its race ready condition. I’m not really sure, I haven’t seen to many Elva’s cross the block in my time.

 

As always I highly recommend a pilgrimage to Watkins Glen, the birth place of modern road racing in the U.S., to any gearhead and the annual vintage festival is a perfect time to make the trip.

~Evan

1991 Isdera Imperator 108i Mercedes Gullwing

I’m still keeping up with this unique Mercedes gullwing theme I’ve had going on. If you thought the Styling Garage SGS or the Sbarro were scarce finds, this ups the ante once more. This fantastically rare find comes from reader Victor, awesome catch.

Isdera’s are one of the rarest cars in the world and you hardly ever have the opportunity to see one come up for public sale. For one reason or another this one has popped up on the Japanese Yahoo Auction site. These cars go beyond the standard supercars you people dreamed about. Isdera falls in with brands like Vector and the Cizeta in terms of early 90s exclusivity.

The 108i was built from 1984-1993, according to the auction this one has a date of 1991. The Imperators had their origins as a Mercedes concept car before being turned over to the Isdera company to develop privately. The name means commander in Latin stemming from Roman times.  The seller states that this is one of two that was imported to Japan. With such a long, but limited production run, apx 30 cars, several different Mercedes power plants were used. The seller states that this one has a Mercedes 5.0. The engine cover looks like this is the 32 valve version found in the 500SL of the day. With Isdera modifications, 400 horsepower could be lurking in there. These cars were known as potent performers.

The seller is looking for 58,000,000 Yen which is about $650,000, half of the initial cost of 120,000,000 Yen. That makes the cost of that $90,000 Sbarro look pretty good.

1991 Isdera Imperator 108i for sale on Yahoo Auctions Japan.

Check out this site to learn some more about other Isdera 108i models: http://www.autozine.org/Classiccar/html/Isdera/108i.html.

Here are a couple of videos showing similar vehicles, you can see there is some variation. Note the roof mounted “periscope” mirror for backup driving on both these cars. Note that both videos show the car wearing the same license plate badge, with letters bb and CW311. CW311 was the name of the initial Mercedes prototype styling study, b+b is one of the German Mercedes tuning firms. Also pay attention how in one video the car is wearing all 3 pointed Mercedes star badges, but in the other these have been replaced with Isdera flying eagle badges.

First is an advertisement from Isdera for the 108i.

Second here is one out on the street. This one appears to have an earlier 5.6 Mercedes engine, it sure sounds fine.

~Evan

1983 Mercedes 500SEC Gullwing Styling Garage

Keeping with the flavor of my last post on the Gullwing Sbarro I thought this similar aged take on the classic Benz Gullwing take was nice.
Nowadays you see everything from Dodge Neons to Honda Civics running around with cheap poor quality Lambo style door kits.
The gullwing setup on this Merc is a much more involved project since it involves cutting the roof. When you cut this much metal out of the car you have to add significant reinforcement to maintain a safe body.
Styling Garage, SGS, the company that made the modifications, was well known in the 80s for making dramatic visual upgrades to Mercedes cars.
Many SGS tuned cars were given SGS badges out front and custom body work instead of the three pointed star. This one has some AMG body parts, but looks mostly stock. Inside there is some custom guages and nice wood steering wheel.
Original price on the conversion was the same as the price of the car itself.
This specimen has 40,000 miles, and a seller looking for $15,000. It has new paint, but as you can tell from the wood planks holding the doors up there is some work to be done. Lots of depreciation here for a really unique car.

You can read more about the SEC gullwings over at 1000SEL.com

~Evan

Mercedes 6.9 powered Sbarro Gullwing

The seller has had this listed a couple times on eBay and it hasn’t sold. It is listed as a 1976, but while that may be how it was registered I’m certain this car was converted in the early 1980s. It is riding on the W126 500SEC based chassis, not as the seller states the 116.  The engine is the 6.9 liter out of the 116 based 450SEL 6.9, though. (edit: This model is on the W116 chassis, unlike the 5.0 liter versions that came on the W126.)

While this one is an automatic, these cars were available with a 5 speed manual and with a bi-turbo engine 5.0. When new these cars started at 250,000 German marks.

The Swiss based Franco Sbarro company still does business on high end vehicles.

The seller might want to go with more classic rims and include more information and pictures of the engine bay if they want to get anything close to the $90,000 ask price.

UPDATE

At first look this indeed looks like a W126 chassis vehicle. This has the W116 dash, something I easily recognize from my days of 6.9 ownership, and distinctive U.S. market 116 servo climate control center console, something my 6.9 didn’t have being grey market.

Two sources I used in digging up some info, Customizing and Tuning Mercedes by Heitz and Neff and Extraordinary Automobiles by Vann and Asaria both list Sbarro as using 500SEC W126 chassis as the basis for these conversions, calling it first the Shahin 1000 and then the 500 Portes Papillon Gullwing. It turns out they did use 116 chassis parts when using the 6.9 liter engine as opposed to the 5.0 or the 5.0 twin turbo option. Apparently the 6.9 motor was not available with the twin turbo option. It was one or the other, though who knows, money could lead companies like this to do strange things for customers.

There is also some wonderful additional photos and information available over at 1000sel.com and this Sbarro Shahin website which quotes directly from the Vann book and uses the same photos from that book.

~Evan