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  • Presented as commissioned in DB 40 Black with 1068 Natural leather interior
  • One of the very few Gullwings ordered from the factory with Rudge wheels
  • Delivered new to Havana, Cuba
  • Restored in the 1990s and less than 500 miles driven since
  • Made driving ready by HK Engineering
Delivered new in black with Rudge wheels to Cuba

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL 'Gullwing'

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 includes:

  • 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 (10/55).”  

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.

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