Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este

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Mercedes-Benz – 300 SL (1955)


Vehicle Type:
Coupé Aluminium
Coach Builder:
Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen
Inline 6
Engine CC:
Wirtgen Invest Holding GmbH (DE)

Class D


Mercedes-Benz - 300 SL
Class D36

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ‘Gullwing’ was first presented at the New York Auto Show in 1954, and it created an absolute sensation with its remarkable gullwing doors. This is no gimmick – even though it’s a spectacular look! They open upwards but are actually a necessary design feature. The highly torsion-resistant tubular spaceframe – welded together from thin steel tubes – runs from front end to tail at knee height. It simply wasn’t an option to install doors that would open in the conventional way. The resulting very high side skirts also increased protection for the occupants in the event of a side impact. The uniquely unmistakable body design was based on the 300 SL prototype innovatively penned by Chief Stylist Friedrich Geiger. The prototypes had already won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1952, and crucially the Panamericana – a huge fillip for the US market. This was a winner even before the first car entered the showroom. Although it possessed an elaborately manufactured, lightweight tubular frame, the 300 SL was a relatively heavy conveyance, weighing in at 1,295 kilograms. The phenomenal racing success achieved by the prototypes in 1952 meant it was a foregone conclusion that Mercedes would also campaign with this version in the racing world. A visually identical body made entirely of aluminium combined with thin glass and other lightweight elements to reduce the weight by 92 kilograms. The aluminium body added another DM 5,000 to the already incredible price tag of DM 29,000 for the 300 SL back in the day. But this was the go-to version if racing success was the objective. The 21st aluminium 300 SL built is the only one delivered in Graphite Grey (DB190) upholstered in Fawn Tex-Leather (L2). The gullwing was raced on the US East Coast in 1955 and 1958 before being purchased by college graduate Tom Welmers with a loan from his mother and he enjoyed an extended tenure for the next 50 years.

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