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
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:
engine rebuild with performance upgrade
of all technical components (injection pump, gearbox, exhaust system, fuel
system, steering, electrical components, lighting, suspension, locks, dash
instruments, rear axle, wheels, pedals, brakes)
restoration of the tubular chassis (photos show the body removed)
required bodywork including optimising the gaps
repaint in DB 180 Silver Grey
new leather interior (dark red DB 1090) including headlining and carpets
oil and air filter
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.