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  • Delivered new with Rudge knock-off wheels
  • Delivered new with Sport engine including NSL camshaft
  • Delivered new with Sport suspension
  • Fully restored to factory specification by HK Engineering

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

Mercedes-Benz built 1,400 examples of the 300 SL Gullwing between 1954 and 1957 when it was replaced by the 300 SL Roadster. Of those Gullwings, 29 had aluminium bodies. Apart from these cars, most are similar except for their colour combination. The only obvious difference is when cars were supplied with Rudge knock-off wheels, an expensive and distinctive option which few buyers chose. They were standard on aluminium cars.

An even rarer option was the “Engine with special parts for sporty driving” (Sonderteile, code SA 10018) which included the NSL camshaft. Rarer still were “shock absorbers and springs for sporty driving” (SA 10009/1) which we have never seen before.

Chassis ‘5500521’ has all three options and was built in July 1955. The factory data card shows English instruments, sealed beam headlights, overriders, and DB 180 Silver Grey metallic paintwork with red leather (1079). The car was shipped to New York and, according to the Gullwing Group Register, past owners include Mr Peterson of West Virginia; George W Gaw of Ohio; Clem Standish of Ohio; Ben Baskin and Harvey L. Rice of Pennsylvania. In 2013 the car appeared at Bonhams’ Arizona auction, having been acquired by the vendor in 1988 and now painted Strawberry Red. Bonhams did not mention the Sport engine or suspension, nor that the Rudge wheels were original (most Gullwings have had them added later). The car was described as having been recently restored.

The car was purchased by a US dealer and found its way to Europe, where in 2014 it arrived in the workshops of well-known restorer HK Engineering. That September it was bought by the current owner, an English collector, and HK was commissioned to complete a total ‘ground-up’ rebuild to factory specification. A detailed photographic record, and accompanying invoices, confirm what was done:

• Full engine rebuild with performance upgrade

• Restoration of all technical components (injection pump, gearbox, exhaust system, fuel system, steering, electrical components, lighting, suspension, locks, dash instruments, rear axle, wheels, pedals, brakes)

• Full restoration of the tubular chassis (photos show the body removed)

• All required bodywork including optimising the gaps

• Full repaint in DB 180 Silver Grey

• Complete new leather interior (dark red DB 1090) including headlining and carpets

• Perfect chrome parts

• Modern oil and air filter

• Additional electric fan

• Heat isolation

• New tyres

Since completion the car has been driven circa 1,000km and it still presents in concours condition. It is UK registered, with ‘matching numbers’, a second set of (tartan cloth) seat cushions, matching fitted luggage, reproduction manuals, hammer, chock and jack, date-stamped (6/55) wheels, large coffee table format restoration book and UK registration.

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