Auctions and Brokerage
Richard Merritt Thompson, Los Angeles, California (acquired circa 1972)Audrey P. Musil, San Diego, California (acquired from the above)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
The 1957 300 SL Roadster presented here, together with the following lot – a 1960 190 SL – comprise a remarkable “his-and-hers” pair of Mercedes-Benz roadsters that have been parked side-by-side in a San Diego garage for more than two decades.
According to a copy of the Mercedes-Benz vehicle data card, this 300 SL Roadster, chassis 7500282, was completed at the factory in October 1957, making it one of 554 examples built during the model’s first year of production. Consistent with its build date, this SL Roadster possesses many telltale features of early production, including a driver’s-side-only exterior door lock, and a turn-signal switch mounted on the steering wheel, rather than on the column.
Originally finished in the striking, rarely seen color scheme of Graphite Grey (DB 190) with medium gray leather upholstery and a matching gray soft top, the 300 SL Roadster was outfitted with sealed-beam headlights and Michelin tires in preparation for its delivery to the US.
Though little is known of the 300 SL’s earliest history, by 1972 it had come into the possession of Richard Thompson, an engineer living in Los Angeles. Surviving records indicate that Mr. Thompson commissioned Marina Mercedes Service of Venice, California, to perform an engine overhaul between 1972 and 1973, and, once completed, the 300 SL was enjoyed on regular weekend outings around the Southland.
It was just around this time that Mr. Thompson first became involved with Audrey Musil, a resident of San Diego, California. Apparently, Ms. Musil had seen Mr. Thompson driving his 300 SL around town and decided to leave a note on the car’s windshield when she found it parked on a side street. After several years of dating and many drives between Los Angeles and San Diego, the couple moved in together.
In 1982, Ms. Musil purchased a Mercedes-Benz sports car of her own, a black 190 SL, and Mr. Thompson continued to drive his prized 300 SL until 1986, when he finally decided to retire the car from active duty and canceled the registration. The 300 SL has not been run since, with the two Mercedes-Benz Roadsters residing in the same two-car garage for over 20 years.
Never before restored or exhibited, and last driven on the road nearly 30 years ago, this 300 SL is being offered for public sale for the first time following decades of continuous ownership. Significantly, the car’s chassis, engine, and body identification numbers – as well as the original stamped data plates – all accurately correspond to Mercedes-Benz factory records. Though the car was, at some time, refinished in silver and reupholstered in black vinyl, its original Graphite Grey paint is present on the dashboard and shows through several areas on the car.
Equipped with several notable period features, including a factory hardtop, rare Hella driving lights, Nardi wood-rim steering wheel, and the original California black plates, the SL also retains some charming 1970s-era accessories, including a solid-state radio, Ungo Box alarm system, driver’s side map light, and a member’s sticker from the “International Society of Girl Watchers.” In addition to the above, the sale of the car is accompanied by a collection of registration and insurance documents, along with fascinating ephemera – such as Disneyland tickets and a slide rule – found in the glove box and trunk.
Given its genuine character, unusual factory color scheme, and charming provenance, this 300 SL Roadster presents today as an ideal candidate for an exacting, concours-quality restoration. Significant 1950s sports cars in this condition do not come along often, and with the passing years it is increasingly unlikely that many unrestored 300 SLs will be found. For the collector who has been searching for an exciting project with great potential for tremendous reward, this is truly the chance of a lifetime.