Auctions and Brokerage
*Please note that a tool kit does not accompany the sale of this car.
Formerly the Property of Ned Tanen
The 300 SL Roadster
Introduced at Geneva, the glamorous Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster entered production in May 1957. Retaining the purposeful appearance and basic mechanical specification of the prior Gullwing, the 300 SL Roadster was a masterful development combining a redesigned and strengthened chassis, conventional side-opening doors, and revised headlamps and grille area. To improve the 300 SL’s performance, its powerful three-liter six received a new camshaft profile and higher compression to deliver another 20 bhp. The welcome addition of a compensating spring to the rear suspension brought more predictable handling and reduced the Gullwing’s tendency to oversteer in fast corners.
Priced from $11,000 and clearly aimed at the all-important American market, the 300 SL Roadster was immediately adopted by the world’s business, entertainment, and social elite. Total production eclipsed that of the Gullwing, but only 1,858 of the largely hand-built Roadsters were made in total when production ended in 1963. Offering stellar performance, legendary Mercedes-Benz build quality, and competition-derived engineering, the 300 SL delivered an incomparable open-air driving experience and remains a “must-have” for any serious collector today.
This striking 1960 300 SL benefits from caring owners, high-quality maintenance by respected specialists, and an older restoration that continues to present well. Notable among its former owners is Ned Stone Tanen, the legendary Hollywood studio executive, who acquired the 300 SL in late 1987 at the pinnacle of his career. A driving force at MCA Records, which signed Neil Diamond, Elton John, and Olivia Newton-John, Mr. Tanen went on to head production of such hits as Jaws, The Deer Hunter, and Animal House at MCA’s Universal division. Mr. Tanen left Universal in the early 1980s to form Channel Productions, from which John Hughes’ “Brat Pack” classics Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club emanated. Going from strength to strength, Mr. Tanen became president of Paramount’s movie division in 1985 and under him, yet another succession of hits followed including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Fatal Attraction, and Children of a Lesser God.
Mr. Tanen clearly enjoyed his SL and under him, it was carefully maintained. In 1995, Hjeltness Restoration of Escondido, California, refinished the exterior paint and repaired both the fuel- level gauge and heater. In 2007, the respected European-car specialists at West Los Angeles’ Sehmi Motors replaced the trunk and tonneau- cover seals, repaired the radio and clock, re-chromed the bumpers, tuned the engine, repaired the fuel pump, and replaced the tie rods. Next in 2008, Van Nuys Sports Cars of Sherman Oaks cleaned the fuel injectors, reconditioned the intake manifold, and replaced the water pump.
After Mr. Tanen’s passing in 2009, his remarkable automobile collection was gradually sold by his estate and the 300 SL, along with a Shelby 289 Cobra and Ferrari 275 GTB, were purchased by a highly selective California collector. The 300 SL was maintained for him in “ready-to-go” status by Jack Bianchi, the noted Santa Barbara-area sports car mechanic, who fitted a correct and hard-to-find white factory steering wheel to replace the Nardi wheel that was in place under Mr. Tanen. The 300 SL was acquired by the consignor in August 2012 and retains its original manuals and warranty cards, including the original tire warranty, plus a complete tool kit. The radio is the preferred Becker Le Mans unit.
A matching-numbers example of one of the most desirable and respected sporting machines ever conceived, this 1960 300 SL clearly continues to benefit from excellent care and maintenance, representing a strong and highly enjoyable touring and event car. With timeless, instantly recognizable styling, and race-bred technical specifications, it will continue to thrill its next owner and take pride of place in the finest of collections.