Lot 178

2022   |   Pebble Beach Auctions

1964 Mercedes-Benz 230 SL Coupe Speciale

Coachwork by Pininfarina


In Excess of $1,000,000




Car Highlights

A Spectacular, One-Off Mercedes-Benz Designed by Tom Tjaarda for Pininfarina

Concours-Level Restoration in Original Colors by Hjeltness Restoration

A Brilliantly Reimagined Version of Paul Bracq’s Design with Italian Influence and Flair

Multiple Concours Award Winner

An Automotive Treasure of the Highest Order

Technical Specs

2,306 CC SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine

Bosch Mechanical Fuel Injection

148 BHP at 5,500 RPM

4-Speed Automatic Transmission

Front Disc, Rear Drum Servo-Assisted Brakes

Front Independent Double-Wishbone Suspension with Coil Springs

Rear Swing-Axle Suspension with Coil Springs

Register to Bid

David Brynan

Axel Springer and Helga Ludeweg, Germany (acquired new circa 1964)

Joe Morell, Palm Springs, California

Bernard “Bernie” Glieberman, Detroit, Michigan

Weston and Elona Hook (acquired from the above in 1997)

Paris Motor Show, 1964

Torino Motor Show, 1964

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 1992 (Second in Class)

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 1993 (Second in Class)

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 1997 (First in Class)

Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, 1998 (Mercedes-Benz Trophy)

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 2005 (First in Class)

The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, California, 2010

Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, Italy, 2014

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 2021

The all-new Mercedes-Benz W113 series debuted in March 1963 as the 230 SL, replacing the 190 SL, and in many ways, the 300 SL as well. Both popular and widely coveted, the sporty, Paul Bracq-designed “Pagoda” was a more than worthy recipient of the SL moniker, and nearly 50,000 would be built before the end of W113 production in early 1971. Although the mechanical specification of the model would change over the years, every W113 received identical bodywork – except one.

In the weeks following the launch of the W113, Pininfarina approached Mercedes-Benz with the idea of producing a coupe version of the car. Somewhat uncharacteristically, Mercedes-Benz approved the project and supplied a car to the popular Torino coachbuilder, stating that the finished car must retain the general brand image of the company. Internally, Pininfaina chose 29-year-old, American-born Tom Tjaarda, who had recently finished the design for the Ferrari 330 GT 2+2, to lead the project. Retaining the general proportions of the production car, Mr. Tjaarda masterfully reimagined the SL as a graceful coupe, resetting the grille on a lengthened nose – with a more aggressive forward lean – between the stock, European-market headlamps. The sides were beveled at the beltline, with a higher, more pronounced angle at the rocker panels. The rear fenders and deck lid received a more angular treatment, while the rear panel featured diminutive taillights and a sculpted, three-piece rear bumper common to Modenese-built vehicles of the period.

The greenhouse is perhaps the most inspired part of the design, with very thin, heavily angled A- and C-pillars, that completely redefine the sleek, modern coupe as something very special, yet neither fully German, nor fully Italian in its design sensibilities. The interior is largely that of a standard 230 SL, however the finishing touches are decidedly different. The seats have a more sophisticated design, with narrow-pleated leather, and are trimmed in chrome. The headliner is similarly pleated with unperforated material in the same way that other Pininfarina one-offs of the period were finished. The modified door panels feature kickplates commonly seen on Ferraris in the 1960s, and the rear parcel shelf has been revised, finishing the interior space.

In late 1964, this 230 SL Coupe was presented in German Racing Silver on the Pininfarina stand at the Paris and Torino Motor Shows. Despite many inquiries, Mercedes-Benz opted not to put the Coupe into production, and the car would forever remain a one-off. Escaping the fate of most auto show display vehicles, the fully engineered Coupe was sold to a very high-profile private party, German press magnate Axel Springer. The car was driven by Herr Springer and his wife, Helga Ludeweg, for several years, both in their native West Berlin, and in Monte Carlo, where the couple maintained a residence. Subsequent owners repainted and reupholstered the Coupe, but it remained fundamentally intact, and is thought to have been imported to the US in the 1980s.

In 1992, the Pininfarina 230 SL was shown, finished in red, at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® by its newest owner, Detroit-based collector Bernie Glieberman, where it earned a Second in Class award. Then in 1997, the Coupe caught the eye of lifelong automotive enthusiast and collector Weston Hook and his wife Elona, of Southern California. Excited by their latest purchase, the Hooks contacted their trusted friend Jerry Hjeltness of Escondido, California – who had previously restored an early Gullwing for their collection – to renew the 230 SL in its original colors, with the goal of competing on Pebble Beach’s 18th fairway that August.

Jerry Hjeltness and his son Eric refinished the body in its original German Racing Silver and re-trimmed the interior, taking care to preserve its unique details. A fortuitous connection made possible the casting of a new windshield from scratch with little time to spare, and the missing Pininfarina-crafted rear license plate frame was re-created with its original details. When the car made its return to Pebble Beach that year, it was awarded First in Class, with Tom Tjaarda on hand to speak to the 230 SL’s many admirers that day. The Hook family continued to cherish and selectively share the car with the public at concours and exhibitions, large and small, for the next 25 years. It has been the recipient of numerous trophies and never fails to draw a crowd wherever it is shown. In 2014, after Mr. Hook’s passing, Elona and her son were invited to display the Coupe at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy, and they regard the honor as the highlight of their years with the car.

The Mercedes-Benz 230 SL Coupe Speciale has now passed to the next generation within the Hook family, and the measured decision has been made that it be released to a new home. Never having been offered for public sale, this represents an incredibly infrequent opportunity for sophisticated collectors of the Mercedes-Benz marque, and those who passionately pursue only the rarest of prizes.

*Please note that this vehicle is titled 1965.