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Lot 125

2014   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2014

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing

Estimate

$1,400,000 - $1,800,000

Chassis

198.040.5500646

Car Highlights

Delivered New to a Noted German Industrial Designer
Originally Finished in Silver Grey Metallic with Blue Leather and Plaid Upholstery
Single Family Ownership for Over Fifty Years
Unrestored Example with Beautifully Preserved Original Interior
Complete with Books, Becker Mexico Radio, and Significant Documentation File

Technical Specs

2,996 CC SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Bosch Mechanical Fuel Injection
220 BHP at 5,800 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Servo-Assisted Drum Brakes
Independent Double-Wishbone Front Suspension
Independent Rear Swing-Axle Suspension
Register to Bid

Friedrich Stuckenbröker, Hamburg, Germany (acquired new in January 1956)Dr. Harry A. Kaplan, Brooklyn, New York (acquired from the above in July 1957)Helmut F. Geiger, Mountainside, New Jersey (acquired from the above in September 1963)Current Owner (acquired from the above)

MBCA Met Section Technical and Tune Up Clinic, Montclair, New Jersey, March 1960Short Hills Mall Concours d’Elegance, Milburn, New Jersey, 1965 (First Place Trophy)

According to Mercedes-Benz factory records, this Gullwing was constructed on August 24, 1955, and was originally finished in the definitive color combination of Silver Grey Metallic (DB 180) with blue leather upholstery and contrasting plaid fabric inserts.

On January 7, 1956, this 300 SL was delivered to its first owner, Friedrich Stuckenbröker, a successful Hamburg industrial designer best known for his vibrant, mid-century furniture produced by Lockhausen Plastik.

Evidently, the 300 SL remained with Herr Stuckenbröker for little more than a year, as in summer 1957 it was sold to a US buyer through an American agent in Germany. A letter from the Hamburg factory dealership to John F. Casey of Oppenheimer Casing Company, dated July 1, 1957, states, “the second hand Mercedes-Benz Type 300 SL Coupe chassis No. 198 040-5500646 purchased as inspected, is in top mechanical condition and of reliable performance.”

On September 7, 1957, the Gullwing was shipped from Hamburg to New York aboard the S.S. Erlangen and, upon its arrival in the US, was delivered to its second owner, Dr. Harry A. Kaplan of Brooklyn, New York. During his time with the 300 SL, Dr. Kaplan regularly attended Mercedes-Benz Club of America meetings and was even pictured with his prized Gullwing in the May–June 1960 issue of the club’s magazine, The Mercedes-Benz Star.

In September 1963, the Gullwing was sold to Helmut F. Geiger, an architect and engineer in Mountainside, New Jersey. Registered in New Jersey with the license plate “IBS 107,” Mr. Geiger’s Gullwing was a frequent sight at MBCA and Gullwing Group events throughout the mid- to late 1960s. It was also the undisputed centerpiece of his collection of fine German automobiles, which grew to include a 190 SL, a 220 S sedan, a low-light Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, and a Volkswagen Type 2 Camper.

Early in his ownership, Mr. Geiger repainted the 300 SL white but left the original silver paint on the dashboard, giving the car a distinctive and easily identifiable appearance. Although the Gullwing was rarely driven after the 1970s, it remained a fixture in the Geiger garage for over 50 years, parked alongside the family’s red 190 SL.

Today, the 300 SL is a marvelous time capsule, with an appealing patinated character, beautifully preserved original upholstery, and decades old SCCA and MBCA stickers affixed to the rear window. As the speedometer was converted to a miles-per-hour unit, the original mileage cannot be veriifed; however, the present reading (33,845) may reflect the Gullwing’s total mileage since it arrived in New York in 1957.

The impressive file that accompanies the sale of this car offers a remarkable insight into the car’s history, as it contains an original 300 SL sales leaflet, important correspondence, ownership documents, period photos, and shipping and importation records from 1957 – even a copy of the May–June 1960 issue of The Mercedes-Benz Star magazine.

In addition to these significant and rarely seen documents, the Gullwing is presented with desirable features, such as a Becker Mexico radio, belly pans, and jack, as well as its original service book, parts catalogue, and instruction manual – all three are stamped with Mr. Geiger’s name and address.

As interest in classic Mercedes-Benz automobiles continues to spread worldwide, it has become increasingly rare to find Gullwings in such wonderful, unrestored condition. Considering its fascinating provenance, exceptional documentation, and a single family’s long-term ownership, this charming 300 SL is sure to strike a chord with discerning collectors.