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Complete Body-Off Restoration by 300 SL Experts Hjeltness Restoration | Retains Matching-Numbers EngineGeorge L. Kremer Jr., New York, New York (acquired new in 1958)Charles Jenkins Jr., Lakeland, Florida (acquired by 1976)Reynold C. Murray, Englewood, Colorado (acquired by 1980)Current owner (acquired from the above in 1997)
By 1951, Mercedes-Benz had built its first postwar luxury model, the 300 series, which was the fastest car available in Germany and attracted notable international clients such as Frank Lloyd Wright and the Shah of Iran. Mercedes-Benz then sought to increase sales further through international racing efforts, and the W194 300 SL race car was born. The W194 made its racing debut at the 1952 Mille Miglia, where they finished an impressive 2nd and 4th. Later that year, they came in 1st and 2nd at Le Mans and swept the first four positions at the Nürburgring. At the Carrera Panamericana that year, 300 SLs again came in 1st and 2nd.
Developed from these racing cars, the production 300 SL Coupe debuted in 1954 to widespread acclaim. In mid-1957, as Gullwing production wound down, sales of the comprehensively refined 300 SL Roadster commenced. Compared to their predecessor, the roadsters were extensively re-engineered, with handling improved by rear-suspension upgrades and a revision of the space frame that allowed for conventionally hinged doors. The three-liter engines received a competition NSL camshaft and increased compression.
According to the original service booklet which still accompanies the car, this lovely 300 SL Roadster was delivered new on March 14, 1958, to George L. Kremer Jr., a resident of Fifth Avenue in New York City. The son of a New York City salon owner, Kremer created a product called Roux in 1932, one of the first commercially successful hair color products. Mr. Kremer took delivery of the 300 SL in Europe in 1958, and toured the continent from March until July of that year. The service booklet is stamped with services from Mercedes-Benz centers, the first in Munich, then Paris, then Geneva – beginning at 325 miles on the odometer and ending at 2,200. The car was back in the US by August 1958, as another stamp shows a service at 5,000 miles in New York. According to a copy of the factory Data Card, Mr. Kremer’s 300 SL was finished in the sporting color combination of Graphitgrau (Graphite Gray, DB 190) over Hellgrau (Light Gray, DB 955) upholstery with a gray canvas soft top, Becker Mexico radio, and US equipment.
The Gull Wing Group’s historical roster lists the next recorded owner of this 300 SL as Charles Jenkins Jr. of Lakeland, Florida, who owned the car by 1976. Jenkins was a successful businessman with a PhD from Harvard whose uncle, George Jenkins, started the Publix Super Market chain in Winter Haven, Florida, in 1930, to compete with the supermarket chain Piggly Wiggly. Jenkins Jr. became the CEO of Publix, and grew the business tremendously.
By 1980, the Mercedes-Benz was owned by Reynold “Ron” C. Murray of Englewood, Colorado, a Mercedes-Benz collector. Mr. Murray co-founded Royal Electronics in 1967, a leading radio manufacturer which produced one of the first transmitters for radio-controlled airplanes in the 1960s. Mr. Murray had the car completely restored in the 1990s by renowned 300 SL specialist Hjeltness Restoration of Escondido, California. This was a meticulous and comprehensive body-off restoration. The testament to the quality of this work is the condition of the car today, which remains stunning.
The consignor acquired the Roadster in 1997, and it joined a Porsche 550 Spyder and Mercedes-Benz Gullwing in his collection. Enjoyed sparingly over the years, recent mechanical work was performed by Farland Classic Restoration of Englewood, Colorado, with attention to the car’s ignition and fuel system, including an injection pump rebuild.
In addition, the consignor has pledged to donate his proceeds from the sale of his 300 SL Roadster to the Serimus Foundation of Fort Collins, Colorado, whose mission is dedicated to helping children in poverty. The foundation’s efforts include an early music program, a book trust, and work within the foster care system. More information about the Serimus Foundation can be found within the car’s file.
Offered here is a 300 SL Roadster with an interesting provenance and a body-off restoration completed by one of the most respected 300 SL restorers in the country. Complete with its hardtop, books, tool kit, and jack, it is poised to be enjoyed as its engineers originally intended, on the open road.