Auctions and Brokerage
From a Private CollectionCharles Dufton, Andover, Massachusetts (acquired in 1961)Gayle Nieburger, Andover, Massachusetts (inherited from the above in 2000)Current Owner (acquired in 2014)
At the Geneva Auto Show in March 1957, Mercedes-Benz introduced a convertible version of the 300 SL Gullwing coupe. Featuring a redesigned frame and updated styling, the 300 SL Roadster offered improved handling and performance via mechanical advancements made during years of Gullwing development and racing. As this recently restored and fastidiously maintained example attests, the 300 SL was rarely more striking than when fitted with a factory hardtop, which endowed the model with a particularly distinctive profile.
This elegant 300 SL Roadster is one of 249 examples built in 1960. It benefits from 53 years of single family ownership, as well as a recent restoration executed to very high standards, resulting in one of the more attractive examples to come to market in some time.
According to a letter from the respected 300 SL experts at Paul Russell and Company, which handled the car briefly in 2014, chassis 002520 was purchased in 1961 as a used car by Charles Dufton of Andover, Massachusetts.
Dufton was the chairman of Northeastern University’s marketing department, and he led a fascinating life prior to purchasing the roadster, beginning his career as an economist working directly for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s budget bureau. He also worked as a marketing and sales analyst for Bendix and went on to teach economics at Harvard for several years before joining Northeastern. The multilingual Dufton later lectured extensively around the world, serving with programs in Europe, South Africa, and the Pacific Rim.
Mr. Dufton also was a dedicated automotive enthusiast, as a 30-year member of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club and an early member of The Veteran Motor Car Club of America. Among other activities, for example, he participated in the famous London-to-Brighton run in 1997, joining hundreds of pre-1905 automobiles in the annual rite (while he was well into his 80s).
During Dufton’s extended custody of this Mercedes-Benz, he dutifully maintained the fine roadster, though by the time of his passing in 2000 it was in need of some refurbishment. The car was inherited by Dufton’s daughter, Mrs. Gayle Nieburger, and it sat in storage for 14 years before she offered the car in 2014 through Paul Russell. According to a respected Massachusetts dealer’s listing at that time, the odometer displayed 77,000 miles, and the interior seemed to retain the original factoryappointed black leather upholstery, though the exterior had been repainted at some point in the original white. Despite the long period of inactivity, the original engine still developed strong compression.
According to the consignor, when he acquired the 300 SL, he commissioned a restoration by the marque specialists at Almar in Kaczory, Poland, an enterprise staffed with former Daimler-Benz factory employees. The roadster’s body was refinished in a gleaming coat of Anthracite paint, while the interior was expertly re-trimmed in beautiful beige leather and square-weave carpeting. A mechanical refurbishment was also conducted, with attention given to the engine, gearbox, and chassis components, as needed.
After returning to the consignor’s collection in Southern California, the 300 SL was treated to further sorting by the experts at Hjeltness Restoration in Escondido. Among the measures taken were cosmetic changes, including a refinish of the valve cover and radiator, and the application of numerous decals.
Now detailed for presentation at elite events, this beautifully finished 300 SL is fitted with matching luggage and a hardtop. The Roadster is further accompanied by tools, a jack, and spare parts. Currently displaying less than 250 post-restoration miles, this exquisite Mercedes-Benz can be enjoyed on vintage tours and at driving events, or shown at marque gatherings and regional concours d’elegance. It is a splendidly presented example that would make a distinguished addition to any collection.