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This particular 300 SL Roadster is one of those prized few originally fitted with Rudge wheels from the factory. Additionally delivered in Light Ivory (DB 620) with red leather, the 300 SL Roadster was also specified with a Becker “Le Mans” radio. Crated and shipped to the US, the 300 SL made its way to its first owner, Edward Rude of West Falls, Virginia. In Mr. Rude’s care, the highly outfitted roadster saw sparing use, accruing just 17,000 miles during his 32-year ownership.
In 1989, the low-mileage, original roadster was sold to its second owner, Don B. Britton of Los Angeles. Photographs from Britton’s ownership show the car at his home in West Los Angeles, most notably fitted with its original Rudge wheels, Becker radio, and factory luggage. Closer inspection of the photos shows the utter originality of the car, including the painted surfaces as well as the wonderful original leather and carpeting. In addition to recording the known ownership history, it is fabulous to also see the superb condition of the Mercedes-Benz through this photographic documentation.
Having found yet another caring owner, the roadster remained with Mr. Britton for 12 years before it was sold to Mercedes-Benz specialist Thomas Taffet in 2001. Realizing the importance of an original Rudge wheel roadster, the car was sent to 300 SL specialist Rudi Koniczek for a complete restoration. Having covered just 42,000 miles, the 300 SL was found to be exceptionally pure and sound. It was a prime restoration candidate and undoubtedly worth the effort.
During the fastidious process, the roadster was disassembled and rebuilt per factory specifications. Care was taken to preserve the original luggage. The interior trim was finished in red leather and red carpet as original. Additionally, the car was upgraded with Euro-specification headlamps. To elegantly finish the exterior, Midnight Blue (DB 904) was chosen in favor over the original ivory. The convertible top was tastefully trimmed in dark blue canvas, and the Rudge wheels were painted to match. Sporting one of Mercedes-Benz’ most tasteful shades, the completed car was breathtaking. Many onlookers have since said that this particular example is the most attractive 300 SL Roadster that they have ever seen.
Official recognition was soon to follow, and in 2005 the Rudge Roadster was selected to participate in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Tour d’Elegance. The 300 SL was fittingly piloted by Sir Stirling Moss for the event and subsequently granted the lead position. To document this honor, the tour passport signed by Sir Stirling accompanies the roadster. Furthermore, the car’s dash bares the signature of the legendary and victorious Mercedes- Benz Factory driver.
In 2008, the car traded hands, still remaining in Southern California. To continue the dutiful maintenance of the Rudge Roadster, the car was entrusted to the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine. In early 2008, over $20,000 was spent further sorting and tuning the 300 SL. In June 2008, the 300 SL Roadster graced the front cover of the Gullwing Group’s 300 Star Letter and was the subject of the feature article. Later that same year, the Mercedes was invited to the Quail Motorsports Gathering and, after significant praise, won its class, receiving the Post War Sports Car Award.
The current owner acquired the 300 SL in 2010, and it became a notable addition to his significant collection of sports and racing cars. In an effort to make the Rudge Roadster an even better example, the car was given to both Tom Burniston and Mark Allin, both noted 300 SL experts. Allin corrected the most minute details stem to stern and conducted further mechanical refining that included the installation of a new, and exceptionally rare, fuel-injection unit.
Accompanied with an original owner’s manual, file documentation including photographs, a Mercedes-Benz Wagenkarte, tools, jack, and a jack bag that carries the Rudge-only hammer, the Mercedes-Benz is exceptionally complete. Beyond the Rudge wheels, radio, and luggage, it should also be noted that the car retains a set of original “aircraft” type lap belts, which remain as rare as any other accessory available.
As the most unique of all optional outfitting, a Rudge-wheel Roadster is held among the most desirable and significant of 300 SLs by marque experts and market authorities alike. Furthermore, in comparison to an Alloy Gullwing or a disc brake, alloy-block roadster, the Rudge-wheel 300 SL Roadster is visually the most notable variant. The concept of Rudge wheels on a 300 SL Roadster alone is sophisticated, but strikingly presented as with this particular example, the combination is undeniably chic.