Mercedes-Benz built 1,400 examples of the 300 SL ‘Gullwing’ between 1954
and 1957 when it was replaced by the 300 SL Roadster. Apart from the 29 alloy
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.
Today, a Gullwing in distinctive and rare colours with Rudge wheels is
always in demand. This car is one.
According to a copy of the factory data card dated 9 June 1956 that
accompanies the car, chassis 6500075 was commissioned by ‘H. Abren’ – the
Gullwing Register believes this to be a typographic error, it should read ‘H.
Abreu’, a common name in Latin America – in Schwarz (black) with leder
naturfarben (Natural leather) ref 1068. The client’s address is noted as
‘Havana / Cuba’. Under Sonderausstattung (optional equipment) the card
- Scheibenwaschanlage (windscreen washer)
- Sonderpolsterung (special upholstery)
- Radio-Becker ‘Le Mans’, Hirsch Antenna
- 2 Nebellampen mit gelbem glas (fog lamps with yellow glass)
- Scheibenrader mit Rudge-Naben (disc wheels with Rudge hubs)
- Koffersatz 2-teilig (two-piece luggage set)
- 1kg lack (1kg paint)
- 4 Satz Schlüssel, bleiben im Wagen (four sets of keys, stored in the car)
Although the commission was received direct from the client, it’s likely
Mercedes-Benz New York handled the sale. Research suggests from then onwards
the car has spent all its life in the USA.
In the 1990s, Eric Vogl and the team at Kar Kraft restored the car.
Since then it has held up very well, completing just an additional 300 miles
since restoration. Within the last 12 months, a total of $50,000 has been spent
on the car including general service work and a compression and leak-down test
that showed excellent results.
The pre-eminent US Gullwing restorer Paul Russell & Company of
Essex, MA, inspected the car this year, declaring it to be a “very good, older
restoration car… mechanically, in great driving shape. We are very confident in
the mechanical being of this engine and running gear, the car feels very solid
and shifts through the gears just fine.” Examining the all-important
special-option wheels, a specialist commented: “The chrome Rudge wheels are in
great shape, and four of the rims correlate with the build date of the car
Following its return to the old continent after many years, the car was immediately taken to marque and model expert HK Engineering in Polling, Germany. We believe there is a depth of knowledge where a car was born which is hard to transpose, and one cannot beat adding the finishing touches done in a car’s homeland. Under Hannes Müller's supervision, the car had: a rear axle, brakes and gearbox rebuilt, a new headliner fitted, speedometer converted to km/h, original radio subtly modernised to accept Bluetooth and an electric fan added, knowing how it’s going to be driven by its new owner.
Today, this is a very striking 300 SL Gullwing. Its desirable
specification of rare colour and highly sought-after Rudge wheels from new sets
it apart, and delivery new to Cuba is the exotic icing on the cake.