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Lawrence Wilkinson (acquired new via Mercedes-Benz of South Bend, Indiana)Wayne Drapeau, Huntington Bay, New York (acquired from the above in 1986)Sandy Chandra, Old Greenwich, Connecticut (acquired from the above in 2004)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
As Mercedes-Benz’s sensational W194 competition car accumulated wins in international racing beginning in 1952, the clamor grew for the Stuttgart firm to create a road-going version. Fueled by the suggestion from Daimler- Benz’s North American dealer Max Hoffman, the factory introduced the 300 SL Gullwing coupe at the 1954 New York Auto Show to universal acclaim. Utilizing the race-proven 3.0-liter SOHC engine of the earlier competition cars, it introduced a revolutionary Bosch direct fuel injection, which increased horsepower by almost 25%.
While the coupe quenched the appetite of racing enthusiasts, an open version was still desired for the road. Although the first modified 300 SL prototype was spotted by the German motoring press as early as 1956, the production 300 SL Roadster would not appear for another year. Not merely a derivative version of the Gullwing, the 300 SL Roadster was comprehensively refined and re-engineered with a fresh, attractive personality all its own.
Only 1,858 of the hand-assembled 300 SL Roadsters were built from 1957 to 1963. Revisions from the original Gullwing design included lower doorsills and rear suspension upgrades to improve the coupe’s handling, as well as a competition camshaft and increased compression, which gave the Roadster an additional 20 bhp. The result was one of the most iconic and refined open-road cars of all time.
The 1960 300 SL Roadster offered here, chassis 002507, was imported new through Mercedes-Benz of South Bend, Indiana. It would be just one of 249 built for 1960 and is commonly referred to as a “big drum” car for the massive 3 1/2"-wide aluminum-finned brake drums it wears at each wheel.
The car’s first owner of record was Lawrence Wilkinson of Stratford, Connecticut, who held it for more than a quarter-century. Wayne Drapeau of Huntington Bay, New York, acquired it in 1986. He sold it in 2004 to Sandy Chandra, who then commissioned its restoration. The car has enjoyed only three known owners before passing to the consignor, a remarkable provenance for such a highly coveted model.
Mercedes specialist Scott Grundfor Company of Arroyo Grande, California, undertook the restoration. Grundfor, who has served as a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® since 1989, is an acknowledged expert in the restoration of 300 SLs, having won many Best of Show awards worldwide.
In undertaking the restoration of 002507, Grundfor and his team strove to preserve the unrepeatable characteristics of the factory assembly, performing a body-on restoration that would maintain the car’s original “live” road feel. The body surface was stripped to bare metal and a respray performed in the original White (DB 050G) using German Glasurit paint. A correct Dark Blue Roser leather interior was done by specialist John Cumpton, with matching blue German canvas soft top and German wool square-weave carpeting with correct rubber floor mats. The overall effect is handsome and faithful to the marque. The Roadster’s original engine was refurbished by Mercedes specialist Mark Wright. The engine compartment has been correctly detailed, with painting and replating of various components. Brake, cooling, and fuel systems were thoroughly gone through and addressed as needed.
A new stainless-steel exhaust system was fitted, and all exterior chrome was straightened and triple-plated as original. New exterior rubber body seals and window felts were used during the reassembly. A correct Becker Mexico Automatic radio and Hirschmann power antenna are in place. The car remains in superb condition and shows less than 500 miles since the restoration was completed in 2006.
Grundfor has personally overseen the final vetting of the car, spending many hours behind the wheel to ensure that 002507 is ready for its next owner. Expertly restored, handsomely appointed, and well sorted, this iconic racederived Mercedes-Benz is ready to impress.