Auctions and Brokerage
There is perhaps no sports car more widely praised than the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, and surely none more iconic. The road-going 300 SL, inspired by the legendary 300 SLR, represented a level of engineering and performance unrivaled by any other standard production car of the time. Boasting a fuel-injected inline six-cylinder engine, sophisticated space-frame chassis, exotic gullwing doors and genuine 150 mph top speed, the original 300 SL brought race car performance to the motoring public – and it did so with inimitable style.
Presented here is surely one of the most exciting 300 SL discoveries in recent memory: a matching-numbers Gullwing that has been quietly resting on flat tires in a Southern California garage for over three decades. This is the kind of 1950s sports car every collector dreams of and its presentation at auction represents an opportunity not to be missed.
As documented in Eric Le Moine’s 300 SL Register, this Gullwing is among the last examples constructed for the 1956 model year. Originally finished in the ultra-desirable color scheme of Black (DB40) with red leather upholstery, the 300 SL was destined for a customer in the US and suitably equipped with sealed-beam headlights and bumper guards. In total, Mercedes-Benz painted just 108 Gullwings in DB40 Black – a small fraction of the 1,400 examples built between 1954 and 1957.
On April 16, 1957, the completed 300 SL was shipped to Los Angeles, and subsequently delivered to its first owner, William “Ike” Eichelkraut, a Northrop Grumman engineer then living in nearby Inglewood. After several years in his care, Mr. Eichelkraut sold the Gullwing to Daniel Jampol, a North Hollywood enthusiast who owned at least five 300 SLs during the early 1960s.
In 1965, Robert Robar of Van Nuys acquired the used 300 SL and, like many California- based Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts, became a member of the Gull Wing Group. After enjoying the 300 SL for the better part of a decade, Mr. Robar decided to retire the car to his home garage, though he continued to pay registration fees through 1983.
Recently discovered after 30 years in total seclusion, this highly original 300 SL is a most remarkable find.
Virtually untouched since its original delivery in 1957, the Gullwing possesses a fantastic time-warp appeal. According to the consignor, the vast majority of the patinated black paintwork is the original factory-applied finish, with a few minor areas of blending and touch-up evident. Similarly, the interior is factory original, from the cracked red leather upholstery to the distressed, hanging headliner. The engine bay retains nearly all of the important ancillary components and, most significantly, the original chassis and engine stampings – along with the factory data tags affixed to the firewall – appear clear and undisturbed. In the trunk, the original tool roll and side-window storage bag are present, as is an ancient Michelin X spare.
Attesting to the car’s long-term Los Angeles- area provenance are several charming details, such as the California Highway Patrol inspection sticker (with an expiration date of December 1975) as well as the original blue and yellow California license plate “G 300SL” with its Gull Wing Group accessory frame.
Given its rare factory color scheme and well- documented history, this matching-numbers Gullwing is a deserving candidate for either a high-point concours restoration or a sympathetic recommission. Whatever the future holds in store for this unique 300 SL, its current presentation is sure to appeal to those with a reverence for unrestored automobiles and it is virtually guaranteed to draw a receptive audience wherever it is seen.
This is a Mercedes-Benz with tremendous appeal to those with the most discriminating tastes. Significant 1950s sports cars in this condition do not come along very often, and with the passing years it is increasingly unlikely that very many wonderfully original 300 SLs will remain to be found.
For the collector who has been searching for an essentially untouched Gullwing that wears its history with pride, this is the chance of a lifetime.