1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing up for sale on RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island event in March

Article by Christian A., on February 24, 2017

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing is definitely a classic beauty. Surely, getting your hands on any of the surviving Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing examples is worth the money -- that is if you have deep pockets to reach into.

So if you really want it, perhaps you would like to take part in a March auction event in Amelia Island, Florida, in which a 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing is one of the lots that will placed under the hammer.

The Mercedes 300 SL first made its debut in 1952 as the Mercedes W194 racer underpinned by a welded aluminum tube spaceframe chassis and powered by a 3.0-liter SOHC straight-6 engine.

That same year, the W194 SL 300 managed to grab victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the sports car race of the Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring, and in the Carrera Panamericana. The SL 300’s most stunning feature is its roof-hinged doors, which were conceived from necessity since the traditional doors are impossible to fit in a body that envelops the passenger compartment. These roof-hinged doors eventually led to the car’s new moniker, the “Gullwing.”

Thanks to the prodding of New York Mercedes distributor Max Hoffman that a street-legal version of the 300 SL race car could prove to be a hit in the United States, Mercedes eventually decided to create a road-going series-production variant – the W198 300 SL. Still featuring gull wing doors and fitted with a more luxurious cabin upholstered in leather, the W198 300 SL was introduced in 1954. Around 167 examples of the in Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing were built in 1954 – one of which is the restored unit to be auctioned by RM Sotheby’s in its Amelia Island sale.

To note, this 300 SL Gullwing is the 116th example of 167 cars that Mercedes built in 1954, as evidenced by its chassis number 4500116. In its original form, this 300 SL Gullwing was finished in White Gray paint and upholstered with an interior of fawn vinyl with red plaid seat inserts. Featuring chromed Rudge wheels and an accessory luggage set, this 300 SL Gullwing was originally sold to Walter Schumacher of Heusenstamm, Germany.

By the early 2000s, this particular 300 SL Gullwing was owned by Mervyn Phillips, president of the Western Great Lakes Chapter of the Gullwing Group. In 2005, this 300 SL was sold to its current owner by Tom Snellback, owner of a classic car restoration house in Chicago. The transaction entailed a restoration of the SL 300 Gullwing, repainting the car in period-correct dark blue and a re-upholstering of the interior in tan leather.

Set for auction on March 11, 2017 at The Ritz-Carlton, 4750 Amelia Island Parkway, Amelia Island, Florida, this 1954 Mercedes SL 300 Gullwing comes complete with a fitted luggage set, a knock-off hammer, and a period sales literature. It is well-documented with restoration invoices, photos, and correspondence. RM Sotheby’s expects this 1954 Mercedes SL 300 Gullwing to fetch a price of between $1.2 million and $1.4 million.

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