1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster
Clearly the 300SL Coupé would be a hard act to follow, yet the Roadster version, introduced just three years later, succeeded in bettering its closed cousin's already exemplary road manners. Built with conventional doors, the 300SL Roadster was first exhibited at the Geneva Salon in May 1957 and was a hit with the late 1950s jet set including royalty, actors and socialites. It sold well for a car that cost more than a Ferrari 250GT California Spyder and would out-live the 300SL coupé by several years. Roadster production ceased in 1963 after 1,858 had been built, and today the model is widely regarded as Germany’s most desirable post-war open Grand Tourer.
From the first year of production, this 1957 vintage 300SL Roadster left the factory early in 1958 destined for the USA, the 300SL's most insatiable market, finished in classic DB180 silver with contrasting blue leather upholstery. The car appears to have spent little (if any) time there before importation to the UK as suggested by the presence of an old style buff log book and the car's pre-1961 British registration number '804 UKT'.
It was acquired by the present owner, a discreet British collector, from an elderly British enthusiast in 1990, together with a 300SL Gullwing and a Bugatti Type 57. At this time the Roadster was painted white and in unrestored condition, with Rudge wheels and a hard top fitted and the current British licence plates (now restored, not replaced). The car was described as having previously been owned by British racing driver, entrant and celebrated 300SL owner Rob Walker but this has never been researched or substantiated. The new owner had the car stripped by his in-house mechanic but it was soon decided that a full professional rebuild would be required, so the car was sent to German 300SL specialist Lars Rombelsheim near Koblenz.
During restoration the Rudge wheels (which are not shown on the factory build sheets so must be presumed as having been added later) were of course retained but with the sensible addition of disc brakes, adopted by the factory for the 300SL from Autumn 1961. The original ivory Bakelite steering wheel was replaced by a period correct Nardi of the type offered by Mercedes-Benz as an option to 300SL buyers. The original drum brakes and Bakelite steering wheel have been kept and are offered together with most other old parts which were removed during restoration, including the radio. The exhaust pipe is of the 'big bore' type giving a sporty engine note, the engine bay is immaculate and the car is shod with good Michelin XWX tyres.
Since the work was completed two years ago the car has covered just 3,000km, mostly in the warmer climes of the owner's summer home in the south of France. The new owner will receive photographs and bills documenting the restoration together with a partial tool kit and owners/ workshop manuals in their vinyl wallet. The hard top, unrestored but complete, is also included and available for collection in the UK.
This is a highly specified and beautifully presented 300SL roadster which should fulfil any demanding 300SL buyer's requirements.