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Vehicle to be offered for Auction sale January 16th – 20th, 2013 at Russo and Steele’s 13th Annual Scottsdale Arizona Auction. Please contact us for more information.
1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Roadster”
Color: Light Blue (DB 334G)
Interior: White Leather
225bhp, 2,996 cc overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine with Bosch mechanical fuel injection, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with coil springs, rear swing axle with coil springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5″
As with many of the most important sports cars, the development of the road going Mercedes-Benz 300SL and its subsequent importation into the United States would not have been possible without Mercedes’ American distributor, 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. Despite initial objections, the determined Hoffman prevailed, and left Germany with a commitment for 1,000 SLs.
Introduced in 1954 to thrilled crowds in New York, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL was essentially a supercar with a price tag well in excess of $7,000. Despite the high price, the immediate and long-term success of the 300SL was due in large part to the growing American fascination with smaller, more nimble European sports cars – an interest expressed by many GIs returning from service on the Continent during the early 1950s.
Notably, the production 300SL capably incorporated the technological advancements that resulted from Mercedes-Benz’s racing program. Regarding the car’s nomenclature, the 300, of course, represented the engine’s displacement of three liters, while SL denoted “Sport und Leicht” (light). A key factor in the car’s sparkling performance was the car’s light tubular frame, designed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut, which was truly an engineering triumph. Based upon an intricate network of many thin tubes, Uhlenhaut’s frame design provided incredible strength, yet weighed a mere 82 kilograms!
The body design was a classic case of form following function. While believed to be merely decorative, the distinctive bulges over the wheel openings actually improved high-speed stability, and the two longitudinal hood bulges and distinctive grillwork on both front fenders removed excessive heat from the engine bay while reducing interior noise. In addition, lightweight aluminum was used extensively for the bodywork, particularly for the doors, hood, trunk lid, and interior sheet metal. While the rest of the car utilized steel bodywork, the entire car, in ready-to-drive form, including the spare wheel, tools, and fuel, tipped the scales at just 1,295 kilograms.
When the 300SL roadster was introduced at the London Motor Show in October of 1957, Daimler-Benz proudly stated “… the dynamic flow lines of its sprawling body are the outward promise of the pent-up power which the Type 300SL roadster can release within the second, in response to your command.” As the roadster was based on the coupe, there were many similarities between the two; the roadster featured larger fenders, different headlights, a smaller grille and a chrome strip down the side of the car that distinguished it from its brother. The heritage, however, remained unquestionable.
The motoring press quickly praised the 300SL, as it continues to do today. From its incredibly beautiful shape, to its advanced engineering, strong performance and handling prowess, to its functional yet comfortable interior, the 300SL remains the standard by which lesser sports cars are judged. Particularly well suited for long-distance, high-speed touring, the 300SL was fitted with a standard 100-liter fuel tank, and boasted a remarkable luggage capacity.
The rare light blue (DB 334G) 300SL Roadster presented here is a beautiful, sympathetically restored example. Prior to its purchase by the current owner, this 300SL was part of a large American automobile collection. As a US model, it would have been delivered new to the official US importer Max Hoffman in early-mid 1958. Gullwing Group records indicate the first documented American owner as John Wenaas of Arizona. In 1981 was then reportedly owned in England. The 300SL returned to the US and, in 2006, was bought by communications entrepreneur and philanthropist Jim Rogers of Las Vegas, Nevada. This 300SL Roadster was one of the few foreign-made cars and likely a highlight of Rogers 189 car “Sunbelt” collection.
Originally fitted with red leather Rogers had his Roadster re-trimmed in a beautiful white leather over grey carpets. The contrast between the light blue paint and the crisp white leather and white soft-top is very elegant and is period correct with a brand-new set of whitewall tires. This car sports the optional Talbot mirror on the driver’s side and a radio. The non-metallic paints really bring out the lines on the 300SL Roadster and fewer than six are confirmed to have left the factory in this particular colour.
The excellence of this 300SL continues to the engine bay, which is well-detailed and period correct in presentation, featuring proper components, finishes and decals. It went through a major $13,000 service in the past few months including a top end rebuild. Intake valves were replaced, as well as gaskets and guides. The cam timing was synchronized. It has all new fluids, spark plugs, and all tests show it is in very good running order. This car is in excellent cosmetic and mechanical condition, and is truly ready to be driven and enjoyed as originally intended.
Chassis 198.042.85000154 is a numbers matching and highly desirable 1958 300SL Roadster that continues to benefit from the apparent care of its past owners. Of the 1,858 300SL Roadsters produced between 1957 and 1963, this example is one of just 267 300SL built in 1958. Still showing in its elegant, rare and original color this is a unique opportunity to own a Roadster that truly stands out from the silvers, reds, and greys so often seen on 300SLs today. With performance and design that remains startling today, the 300SL continues to occupy a place on Sports Car International’s Top 10 list. In a 1968 road test conducted by Road and Track, the editors declared, “After 13 years, still a terrific car – sparkling performance.” They would say the same today.