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Gullwing, the popular name for the Mercedes 300 SL coupé, is probably the greatest and most successful supercar of all time. Throughout the model's long life the name 'Gullwing' has highlighted the car's unique feature, the lift-up gull-wing doors necessitated by the 300 SL's elaborate multi-tubular space-frame chassis.
Conceived and developed in 1951, the 300 SL proved a fast and reliable competition sports car. In 1952, the original 300SL (model Mercedes-Benz W194) scored overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in Bern-Bremgarten, in the sportscar race of the Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring, and in Mexico's Carrera Panamericana. It also managed second and fourth places at its first outing, the Mille Miglia in 1952.
The decision to create a road going SL was largely due to Mercedes-Benz's American distributor, the formidable Max Hoffman. While attending a 1954 meeting of the Daimler-Benz Board of Directors, Hoffman argued passionately for a production version of the 300SL racing car. According to legend, despite initial objections the determined Hoffman prevailed and left Germany with a commitment for the construction of 1,000 SLs.
The sleek body design was a classic case of form following function. The attractive bulges over the wheel openings, for instance, actually improved high-speed stability, and the two longitudinal hood bulges and distinctive grillwork on both front wings removed excessive heat from the engine bay while reducing interior noise. In addition, lightweight aluminium was used extensively for the bodywork, particularly for the doors, bonnet, boot lid and interior sheet metal. While the rest of the car utilised steel panels for the bodywork, the entire car, in ready-to-drive form, including the spare wheel, tool kit and fuel, tipped the scales at just 1,295 kilograms. Designed for high-speed, cross-country travel, the 300SL was equipped with a large 130-litre fuel tank.
From these highly successful sports-racing cars Mercedes-Benz developed the production model that was a pioneer of fuel injection. In production form, the Gullwing was built to the highest quality and had a standard of performance - 140mph top speed coupled with exceptional acceleration - that surpassed the offerings of rival manufacturers. (The Gullwing was by far the fastest production car of it's day). The result was that over a period stretching from late 1954 to April 1957 the Mercedes-Benz factory built 1400 of these magnificent cars.
This example offered for sale is a 1955 car that was delivered new to New York.
It was supplied with the rare and most sought after option of Rudge Knock off wheels. Not only was it rare in period but it's rare that one remains with these today. Added to this it's even rarer that the car retains its original option supplied equipment! To carry out the conversion today is very complex and expensive - It also of course wouldn't be original.
The car was and still is Red with Black Leather. The car remained in the U.S.A until purchased by the famous Matsuda collection in Japan (one of the greatest collections in the world that has included a 250 GTO, the Top Gun 356 speedster and many others). The car passed to a very famous UK based collection in 1999 at which point it was U.K registered. In 2007 it passed to its present owner who has kept the car in equally fine condition.
The colour combination remains as per delivery, other than the seats and carpets the interior is believed to be totally original. The engine has been fully rebuilt in the last ten years and remains in good condition (very limited mileage since). The car has matching chassis, engine and body numbers as well as the original Rudge Knock-off wheels. Having remained part of two very prominent collections for many years the mileage is just 20,000 miles from new and believed to be genuine. It is well known that both collections have full time maintenance staff and for this reason the car has always been kept in excellent running order.
This is a great useable car with all the right attributes; a good file, famous ownership, originality and low mileage from new. The Gullwing model has firmly inserted itself at the Blue chip end of the classic market this year with a similar steel Gullwing (also with a spectacularly low mileage of 4,100 miles on the clock) sold for $2.2m in January 2012 at auction. Needless to say this example is much more reasonably priced!! The car represents a superb example of this iconic model and is available to view and test immediately at our Chorleywood showrooms just outside London.