Auctions and Brokerage
*Please note that this vehicle is titled by its engine number.
From a Private CollectionCarlos Kauffmann, Caracas, Venezuela (acquired in 1956)Joseph C. Overby, Chicago, Illinois (acquired in 1969)Merrick W. Leckey, Laguna Niguel, California (acquired from the above in 1971)Dr. Michael Liu, Salem, Oregon (acquired from the above by 2005)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
Newport Beach Concours d’Elegance, Newport Coast, California, circa 1999Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance, Forest Grove, Oregon, April 2006 (Best in Class, Best of Show)
As production wound down for the legendary 300 SL Gullwing, just 311 examples were built in its penultimate year of 1956. This beautifully restored Mercedes-Benz testifies to the model’s reputation as one of the most timeless designs.
According to the research of a prior owner, chassis 6500174 was assembled as Kommission no. 805864, under special order from the company’s Venezuelan distributorship on behalf of Carlos Kauffmann, who was the Latin American sales agent for Ferrari, Maserati, and Fiat. Mr. Kauffmann ordered the Gullwing for a customer who intended to enter the car in a local race called the Tres Arroyos. With competition in mind, the Gullwing was equipped with a taller 3.42:1 final-drive ratio for increased top speed. The engine was also factory-tuned to the highest possible degree of ignition advance for a production 300 SL at the time.
Finished in white paint with a red leatherette interior, the Mercedes-Benz was equipped with metric instruments, a Becker AM/FM radio with a Hirschmann automatic power antenna, and a windshield washing system. The wheels were mounted with Continental racing tires, as confirmed by a factory certificate of authenticity. Completing assembly in June 1956, the Gullwing was shipped a month later to the port of La Guaira, Venezuela, and delivered to Mr. Kauffmann.
For reasons unknown, the original purchase by the racing customer was canceled, and Mr. Kauffmann proceeded to sell the Gullwing back into European ownership, quickly finding a buyer in Italy. The 300 SL is believed to have remained there through the 1960s before being acquired by Joseph Overby of Chicago, who apparently retained possession only a few years before selling the car to Merrick Leckey of Laguna Niguel, California.
A substantial file of service and restoration invoices confirms that Mr. Leckey was committed to the refurbishment of the handsome Gullwing. He entrusted the car’s service to the marque experts at Hjeltness Restoration in Escondido, California, who, in addition to regular maintenance during the 1990s, installed a desirable NSL high-performance camshaft and a commensurately calibrated fuel pump and metering unit.
Mr. Leckey also changed the color combination, opting for a silver metallic finish complemented by a dark blue leather interior. A color-matched luggage set for the rear shelf was sourced and fitted, completing the Gullwing’s sensational appearance. In the late 1990s, the car was then presented at the Newport Beach Concours d’Elegance.
By 2005, the 300 SL was sold to Dr. Michael Liu of Salem, Oregon, and hesourced a factory Zertifikat (Daimler-Benz’s certificate of authenticity), demonstrating the precise build date and equipment with an officially signed binder. Liu went on to display the Gullwing at local events such as the 2006 Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance (where it reportedly garnered both a class award and Best of Show) and the grand opening of a new marque dealership in 2013. Hjeltness continued to address mechanical needs during this time, rebuilding the transmission and fuel pump, and installing a new master cylinder.
Reportedly, this 300 SL was driven minimally after the restoration, accruing approximately 100 km before being sold in the early 2010s. In June 2014, the car was fitted with new Vredestein Classic tires, and in May 2016, the brake shoes and wheel cylinders were recalibrated, and a new battery was installed. It retains period-correct details and is accompanied by manuals and tools. The paint exhibits a resplendent shine, and the detailed engine bay is further distinguished by a polished finish on the intake manifold.
This beautiful 300 SL would make a fantastic candidate for display at premium concours d’elegance, or it may be enjoyed on touring events, where its timeless design and stout performance promise rare thrills.