Auctions and Brokerage
Superb Hjeltness Restoration in Outstanding ColorsLou Lesser, Los Angeles, CaliforniaJack KearnsDavid Chow, Los Angeles, California (acquired by 1990)Bob Sirna, Rochester, Michigan (acquired in August 1992)Scott Grundfor, Arroyo Grande, California (acquired from the above in July 1997)Michael Warner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina (acquired from the above in March 2001)Private Collector, Texas (acquired from the above circa 2003)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
As the road-going development of the racing cars that returned Mercedes-Benz to the top echelons of international motor sports during the early 1950s, the 300 SL Gullwing coupe remains a landmark of design and engineering prowess, and its importance simply cannot be overstated. Just 1,400 were built through 1957, followed by 1,858 300 SL Roadsters produced into 1963. In keeping with its incomparable heritage, this 1955 300 SL Gullwing is truly one of the finest in existence.
Beautifully restored and fastidiously maintained, this 300 SL is documented in the Gull Wing Group registry as a US-specification model, factory-finished in special paint and upholstery comprising White (DB 50) over Black (DB953) leather. Completed August 20, 1955, this Gullwing was shipped five days later to Mercedes-Benz Distributors Inc. in New York City. Early owners are recorded by the Gull Wing Group as Lou Lesser and Jack Kearns. During the late 1980s, the very original and solid car was acquired by David Chow of Los Angeles, who commissioned marque expert Jerry Hjeltness to perform a total restoration with the objective of firmly establishing this Gullwing as one of the world’s finest examples.
The choice of Hjeltness Restoration, of Escondido, California, for the Gullwing’s restoration was logical, given its vast experience with 300 SLs dating to Jerry Hjeltness’ first purchase of one in 1960. With many 300 SLs – especially goodoriginal examples – passing through the facility over the years, Hjeltness collected and organized information about the fine details of these vehicles. In particular, his early training in precision machining techniques was a perfect foundation for managing the intricacies of the 300 SL, a highly sophisticated vehicle by any era’s standards. His work is renowned as among the finest in the Mercedes-Benz field . The restoration process was temporarily slowed when David Chow ran afoul of the law, and the 300 SL was seized by the US Department of Justice. Fortunately, it gave approval for the work to be completed to the high standards that were intended originally. Hjeltness Restoration finished the Gullwing in Midnight Blue (DB 904) with a factory-correct shade of Gray (278) leather upholstery and a matching set of fitted luggage. The next owner was the well-known 300 SL enthusiast Bob Sirna of Rochester, Michigan, who acquired it in August 1992. Mr. Sirna had initially planned to purchase a Gullwing that could be used for vintage racing, but after fully realizing the depth of its quality, he decided that it was far too nice to subject to the rigors of racing. He elected instead to show the 300 SL, with Hjeltness Restoration exhibiting the Gullwing for Mr. Sirna at concours events in Fresno, San Diego, and Santa Barbara, California, earning First in Class honors at each outing, followed by Best of Show at the June 1993 edition of the Le Cercle Concours d’Elegance in Los Angeles.
In July 1997, Mr. Sirna traded the Gullwing via respected Mercedes-Benz restorer and marque expert Scott Grundfor; after Mr. Grundfor thoroughly serviced and tuned the Gullwing, Mercedes Benz aficionado Michael Warner of North Carolina added it to his collection. Less than two years later, Mr. Warner offered the car for sale through Mr. Grundfor once again, and in early 2001, it was purchased by a Texas-based collector, who retained it until August 2012, when the consignor acquired it. Since then, the Gullwing returned to Hjeltness Restoration for a thorough inspection, further sorting, and professional detailing. Invoices exceeding $25,000 for this most recent work accompany the Gullwing, as does a copy of the factory data card documenting that the car retains its original engine. The Gullwing is fitted with belly pans and factory chrome wheels, and the sale includes luggage, tools, and original books.
Simply impeccable and visually electrifying, this 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL truly ranks among the very best and stands ready to take pride of place in the finest of collections. It has not been publicly shown for many years, and with its outstanding preservation, extremely limited use, and the exceptional maintenance it has enjoyed since the restoration was completed, this 300 SL Gullwing will be a welcome entrant at the most prestigious concours from coast to coast. It is one of the finest restored Gullwings that Gooding & Company has ever had the pleasure of offering.