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Fitted from New with Rudge Wheels | Impeccably RestoredSterling Stageberg, St. Petersburg, Florida (acquired by the late 1960s)Dr. Truman McGhee, St. Petersburg, Florida (acquired by 1970)Dick Leppla, Gates Mills, Ohio (acquired circa 1973)Jim and Dorothy Conant, Rocky River, Ohio (acquired in 1976)B. Scott Isquick, Pepper Pike, Ohio (acquired from the above in 1996)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2010)
Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Amelia Island, Florida, March 2002 (First in Class)National AACA Fall Meet, Hershey, Pennsylvania, October 2002 (Junior Award)National AACA Fall Meet, Hershey, Pennsylvania, October 2003 (Senior Award)Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance, Forest Grove, Oregon, July 2010 (Elegance Award, First in Class)Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance, Palos Verdes Estates, California, September 2010 (First in Class)Gull Wing Group Convention, Palm Springs, California, October 2012Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance, Forest Grove, Oregon, July 2016 (Allure of the Autobahn Award, First in Class)
This beautiful example of the celebrated Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing benefits from a comprehensive restoration and strong supporting documentation, both of which have contributed to an impressive run of awards at numerous concours d’elegance. According to a copy of the factory build sheet, chassis no. 5500512 was dispatched to the marque’s New York importer in July 1955, optioned with high-gloss Fire Engine Red (DB 534) paint and black leather upholstery. The car was desirably equipped with a Becker Mexico radio with antenna, and Rudge knock-off wheels.
While the identity of the initial owner is unknown, by the late 1960s the 300 SL was acquired by Sterling Stageberg of St. Petersburg, Florida. Mr. Stageberg is notable as the inventor of an important mechanical variable-speed transmission drive that was widely used in automotive windshield wipers. Mr. Stageberg sold the Gullwing around 1970, and soon after it was acquired by Dr. Truman McGhee, a fellow St. Petersburg resident who was a member of the Gull Wing Group and the owner of a 300 SL Roadster. As illustrated by correspondence with the consignor that is retained in the car’s file, Dr. McGhee undertook some restorative measures on the 300 SL, including a repaint in the original factory color.
Around 1973, the 300 SL passed to Dick Leppla, the owner of Chevron Race Cars USA and importer of the famed privateer-run Chevrons. He sold the Mercedes-Benz three years later to Jim and Dorothy Conant of Rocky River, Ohio, who in more recent correspondence with the consignor discussed their charming long-term personal use and care of the car. The Conants kept their beloved Gullwing for 20 years before selling it in 1996 to B. Scott Isquick, a noted Mercedes-Benz collector in Ohio.
As documented by photographs and numerous invoices, Mr. Isquick commissioned a comprehensive restoration of the Gullwing, entrusting R&A Engineering in Michigan to address all coachwork needs, which concluded with a bare-metal repaint in the factory-correct color of Silver (DB 180). The interior was re-trimmed with proper red leather, while Historic Sports Cars in Kalamazoo, Michigan, sorted the chassis. Scott Grundfor, an award-winning marque expert, rebuilt the original motor and transmission, and he dialed in any outstanding issues as needed. Completed in late 2001, the beautiful refurbishment was duly rewarded on show fields over the next few years, starting with a class win at the 2002 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and followed by successive Junior and Senior Awards at the 2002 and 2003 National AACA events in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
In 2010, Mr. Isquick sold the Gullwing to the consignor, an automotive author and collector. After being treated to comprehensive cosmetic and mechanical detailing, including a new clutch and a full service, the car resumed its show career, winning First in Class and a Prestige Award for elegance at the Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance.
Featured as the cover car of the August 2010 issue of the 300 Star Letter (official publication of the Gull Wing Group) while posed in Daimler Trucks North America’s wind tunnel in Portland, Oregon, chassis 5500512 went on to win the 300 SL class at the Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance in September. The car was presented at the Gull Wing Group Convention in Palm Springs in October 2012, and in July 2016 it returned to Forest Grove, winning its class and the prestigious Allure of the Autobahn Award.
Restored to stunning factory authenticity, including an engine rebuild by one of the Mercedes-Benz niche’s most respected craftsmen, and retaining its original engine, bellypans, and rare factory-installed Rudge wheels, this Gullwing is accompanied by several rare and desirable accessories, including an original tool kit, owner’s manuals, a four-bar tire pressure gauge, an extremely rare 300 SL trouble light, and an extensive history file documenting the car’s build, ownership succession, and restoration. Awarded as the best Gullwing at several major events, this beautiful car would distinguish any collection, and merits the consideration of marque collectors worldwide.