Auctions and Brokerage
*Please note this vehicle is titled A1980421002486.
Original Owner, Belgium (acquired new in 1960)Jack Hurlbert, MarylandStephen White, Arlington, Virginia (acquired in 1972)Mar Industries, Marina Del Rey, CaliforniaDavid Rosales, East Brunswick, New Jersey (acquired in 1987)James Diamond, East Brunswick, New JerseyFrank Darabont, Monterey, California (acquired in July 2004)
While nicely restored examples of Mercedes-Benz’s revered 300 SL Roadster occasionally become available, there are very few that are as stunningly presented as this breathtakingly restored car. Benefiting from extended care by one of today’s most celebrated filmmakers and attention from one of the West Coast’s finest marque experts, this extraordinary Roadster highlights the open-top 300 SL’s finest qualities.
According to the Gull Wing Group’s Roadster registry, this elegant 300 SL was originally finished in Fire Engine Red (DB 534) paint, with a black leather interior. As a 1960 roadster, the car is desirably equipped with the later dual-floating brake shoes that, via increased lining area, delivered far better stopping power than the prior drum brakes. Some enthusiasts even contend that these late units were superior to the early disc brakes that followed. Believed to have been fitted on only 150 examples, this mechanical feature is ideal for today’s vintage touring events.
Originally delivered to Belgium, chassis no. 002486 was imported to the US by the early 1970s and proceeded through a short chain of East Coast owners through the 1990s. In 2004, following a restoration by esteemed East Coast 300 SL restorer Robert Platz, the car was offered to respected marque specialist Scott Melnick of Calabasas, California, and he knew of a perfectly suited buyer.
Enter Frank Darabont, one of this generation’s best-loved film writers and directors. Mr. Darabont is one of only six directors whose first two films (The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile) were nominated for Oscars in the best picture category. Mr. Darabont himself was nominated for three Academy Awards for these films. A lifelong automotive enthusiast, Mr. Darabont enjoyed the kind of success in his craft that enabled him to pursue his second passion, fine vintage Porsche and Mercedes-Benz automobiles.
When Mr. Darabont learned in 2004 of the availability of a special 300 SL Roadster, he quickly acquired it, having long considered the model a personal holy grail. After some dialing in by Mr. Melnick, the new owner ran the SL in the 2006 Colorado Grand, with Mr. Melnick assuming co-pilot duties. “The car performed flawlessly,” Mr. Darabont said of the tour. “I was so impressed that a car so old could run 1,000 miles without working up a sweat. It shows how brilliantly engineered [the model] was in the first place.”
Mr. Darabont then decided he wanted to restore the Mercedes-Benz’s interior, and retained Mr. Melnick to oversee the particulars. As the car was being disassembled, the consignor decided to take the opportunity to repaint it in a color he had long preferred, Anthracite Metallic (DB172), which makes for an exquisite complement to the new red (1075) leather interior. The interior work was entrusted to expert trimmer John Cumpton, widely considered the finest at his craft, who finished the cabin with beautiful new hides.
As cosmetic work proceeded, further restoration was soon undertaken, this time addressing mechanical aspects and finishing considerations. The engine, brakes, suspension, rear end, undercarriage, and electrical systems were all properly refreshed to concours standards, resulting in breathtaking aesthetic quality and superior mechanical function. All of these measures were conducted by Mr. Melnick, making for a comprehensive ground-up restoration that was completed in late 2014. The process was documented with invoices, which are joined by an original owner’s manual, and a copy of its factory build record. Mr. Darabont is also including his personal Mercedes-Benz 300 SL commemorative chronograph watch. Since restoration, the car has accrued approximately 1,000 miles on the famous winding roads of Monterey.
Enthusiastically owned, maintained, and driven, this highly desirable Mercedes- Benz would make a crowning addition to any collection. It is certain to be welcomed at finer concours d’elegance and vintage events. This handsome roadster can also be enjoyed on vintage tours such as the Colorado Grand and Copperstate 1000. Utterly captivating, this exquisite 300 SL exemplifies the luxury and performance for which the model was originally famed.