In the world of classic automobiles, few names evoke as much nostalgia and admiration as Mercedes-Benz. Among its timeless creations, the 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster stands out as an exemplar of vintage luxury. With an upcoming appearance at the Bonhams’ Audrain Concours Auction, the beautifully restored version of the classic is set to turn heads and potentially fetch a remarkable price.
A Legacy of Excellence
Mercedes-Benz, a brand synonymous with automotive excellence, cemented its postwar reputation with the iconic W194 race car. It not only tasted victory on the racetrack but also inspired a road-going model at the insistence of Max Hoffmann, the renowned US Mercedes importer responsible for the Porsche 356 Speedster and BMW 507.
Unofficially dubbed the “Gullwing” due to its distinctive upward-opening doors, Mercedes produced approximately 1,400 examples of the 300 SL coupe between 1954 and 1957. These cars quickly became objects of desire among collectors, a trend that continues to this day.
In response to the convertible-loving Californian market, Mercedes transitioned from coupe production to the 300 SL Roadster in May 1957. Over the course of its production run until early 1964, 1,858 of these open-top beauties were manufactured, with around 1,500 believed to survive today. These relatively plentiful numbers ensure that collector demand remains strong.
What makes the 300 SL series stand the test of time is not just its stunning aesthetics but also its remarkable performance. Both the coupe and roadster variants are equipped with a 3.0-liter straight-six engine producing around 225 horsepower at 5,800 RPM. Notably, they feature Bosch mechanical fuel injection, a groundbreaking technology for their era. With a four-speed gearbox, independent suspension, and hydraulic drum brakes on all four wheels, these cars were unparalleled in their day.
Beneath the captivating bodywork lies an intricate tube chassis. The Roadster variant, while offering the comfort of regular doors and roll-up windows, also boasts improved handling at high speeds, thanks to a revised rear swing-axle design. This blend of style, performance, and comfort has helped maintain their desirability over the years.
A Star on the Horizon
One particularly captivating 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster is set to grace the Bonhams’ Audrain Concours Auction on September 29. This vehicle, restored by the skilled hands of Scott Melnik Auto Engineering of Calabasas, California, between 1997 and 1999, is a testament to the enduring allure of classic automobiles.
Resplendent in Mercedes’ DB172G Anthracite Metallic, this Roadster retains its original chassis, engine, and body numbers, ensuring authenticity. Its interior exudes timeless elegance with black leather upholstery, charcoal square-weave carpeting, an ivory steering wheel, and a gear knob. A Becker Mexico radio, lift-latch competition-style lap belts, and meticulously restored factory switchgear and instrumentation complete the package.
While this exquisite classic will cross the auction block without a reserve price, estimates suggest it could fetch anywhere between $1.2 million and $1.4 million. The allure of owning a meticulously restored piece of automotive history is expected to drive enthusiastic bidding.
The 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster represents not only an investment opportunity but also a chance to own a piece of automotive history. Its timeless design, exceptional performance, and impeccable restoration make it a true collector’s dream. As it prepares to captivate enthusiasts at the Bonhams auction, this classic car stands as a testament to the three-pointed star marque’s enduring legacy in the world of luxury automobiles.