Auctions and Brokerage
An evolution of the groundbreaking and highly successful W194 300 SL race car, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster is regarded as one of the most beautiful and well-rounded sports cars ever produced. The model was steadily improved during its production run, which began in 1957 and came to a close early in 1963. One of the most significant updates introduced during production was the adoption of four-wheel disc brakes in 1961. Approximately 270 disc-brake 300 SL Roadsters were built before the introduction of the alloy-block version of the fuel-injected inline six-cylinder engine. To many Mercedes-Benz aficionados, these Roadsters represent the ideal specification, combining the improved stopping power of the disc brakes with the more robust and reliable iron-block engine.
According to a copy of the original Mercedes-Benz wagenkarte, this stunning 1961 disc-brake, iron-block Roadster was originally delivered to the US finished in Light Blue (DB 334) with blue leather upholstery. As documented in the Gull Wing Group International Club Register, the 300 SL’s first owner was T.P. Galisch, a resident of Beverly Hills, California. Years later, the Mercedes-Benz was sold to Robert Martin of Los Alamitos, and it was in the hands of its third owner, Bruce Baysinger, an electrical engineer living in Seal Beach, that this very original, 33,000-mile car was disassembled in anticipation of a future restoration.
As might be expected of a fastidious engineer, all the SL’s interior and mechanical parts, together with the smallest pieces of hardware and chrome trim, were meticulously labeled, catalogued, and stored in cases and trunks. Despite Mr. Baysinger’s best intentions, the project never got off the ground, and the long-sequestered car became something of a legend in 300 SL circles.
Eventually, the disc-brake Roadster became available and was sold to Dr. Philip Lutfy of Phoenix, Arizona, an esteemed Mercedes-Benz collector who has owned over 100 high-quality examples of the marque. Under his ownership, the SL was completely restored, in a no-expense-spared fashion, with work carried out by respected marque experts. Bill Richardson and Robert Webster restored the mechanical components, including overseeing a complete engine rebuild, utilizing NOS pistons and bearings. The upholstery, bodywork, and paint were entrusted to well-known Mercedes-Benz specialists Jon Cumpton, Chris Hawkins, and Ricardo Miranda, while the chrome and brightwork were refinished by the renowned firm Christensen Plating Works in Los Angeles.
When the time came to refinish the SL’s bodywork, Dr. Lutfy elected to paint the car in the more dramatic, factory-correct color combination of Anthracite Gray Metallic (DB 172) over red leather upholstery, rather than adhere to the original blue over blue color scheme. Similarly, the car was fitted with European head- and tail-lamps and the optional factory hardtop was painted to match the body, creating a clean, seamless appearance. The restoration effort is well documented in an album of detailed photographs, which attest to the meticulous, detail-oriented nature of the work performed. Likewise, the Mercedes-Benz wagenkarte confirms that this 300 SL retains its important original components including the chassis, body, and engine.
Following its restoration, the SL Roadster remained in Dr. Lutfy’s collection until August 2011, when it was sold at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach Auction to the current owner. In the years since, it has been a fixture in a prominent collection, where it has shared the garage with other Mercedes-Benz icons, such as a Rudge-wheel Gullwing and CLK GTR.
Today, the high-quality restoration continues to show beautifully in all respects, driven sparingly and professionally maintained for the past decade. The car’s outstanding appearance is highlighted by desirable accessories including a Becker Mexico radio, owner’s handbooks, and tool roll, as well as Hepco-style fitted luggage, trimmed in red leather to match the interior upholstery. The superb presentation is rounded out with the inclusion of the car’s original California black license plates, which were assigned to it in 1963.
Considering its Southern California early history, high-quality marque-expert restoration, desirable accessories, and impressive character, one would be hard pressed to dispute the credentials of this disc-brake SL Roadster. For the collector who demands only the very best, Gooding & Company encourages close inspection and serious consideration of this exquisite Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.
*Please note that this vehicle is titled 1963.