“A rare combination:
outstanding road performance plus luxury” An advertising strapline for the 300 SL Roadster by its distributors in
the US, the Studebaker-Packard Corporation, neatly sums up the virtues of the
Making its debut at the 1957 Geneva motor show, the
300 SL Roadster replaced the legendary ‘Gullwing’ as Mercedes’ super-expensive
sports car for only the world’s wealthiest.
This 300 SL Roadster, in
beguiling Lindgrün, is a fine example
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
Replacing Mercedes’ iconic
and groundbreaking 300 SL coupé was not the matter of a moment. The engineers
in Stuttgart were more than up to the task, though, and created a more usable
sports car than the racing car-like Gullwing, but one with barely less
The famous tubular
space-frame chassis of the coupé was retained, but modified to allow for
conventional, forward hinging doors. A frequent criticism of the Gullwing – its
lack of boot space – was addressed by a new, smaller capacity fuel tank that
wrapped round the spare wheel allowing overnight luggage to be stowed in the
boot. The new fabric top folded away under a metal panel behind the seats and
the glass windows were conventional wind-ups.
Under the skin, the
powerful fuel-injected straight-six was retained but redesigned rear suspension
endowed the car with better roadholding and more comfort. Depending on
rear-axle ratio, performance was still stunning: British testers recorded a
maximum of 138mph and 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds.
Drawn by Friedrich Geiger
under the direction of Head of Design Karl Wilfert, the 300 SL Roadster’s lines
were graceful with a hint of menace, the famous square, ‘eggbox’ air exits on
the flanks of the car now carrying extended chrome flashes that continued into
the doors. An external fuel filler cap was located on the driver’s side tip of
the rear wing.
The new car was powerful,
expensive and exotic, and immediately became a favourite of industrialists, film
stars and wealthy sportsmen the world over. Only a handful of cars were raced
and rallied. A total of 1,858 cars were sold until production stopped in 1963.
According to a copy of the factory delivery note that
accompanies this car, chassis 198.042.7500511 was consigned to North American
agents Studebaker-Packard of South Bend, New Orleans in December 1957 and
shipped to the US from the German port of Bremen. Extras included:
Sonderlackierung – special paintwork
Sonderausführung für USA – special equipment for USA
including sealed-beam headlamps and lockable driver’s door
Rückfahrscheinwerfer – reversing lights
Becker Mexico radio
Research by 300 SL Eric Le Moine reveals that
this car spent much of its early life in the US, listing owners that include:
HD Gaza (Arizona); Harry Harrell (Indiana); H Barton Kister (Indiana); David
Lozow (Indiana); and Robert F Martino (Connecticut).
In more recent times, ‘7500511’ returned to Europe and
has been the subject of a comprehensive mechanical restoration by German expert
Kienle that included a full engine and suspension rebuild, all the while taking
the utmost care to preserve the interior and exterior, much of which is totally
original from 1957.
Its sensational exterior colour marks this car out
from the ordinary. Add to that exceptional originality and the highest standard
of mechanical condition, and you get a stand-out 300 SL Roadster, one of the
finest we have handled.