Auctions and Brokerage
Alloy-Block, Disc-Brake ExampleMr. Lachman, Tiburon, CaliforniaPeter Tadin, Cupertino, California (acquired in 1976)Bruce Meyer, Beverly Hills, California (acquired circa 1978)Duane Durham, Vail, Arizona (acquired circa 1979)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
An elite sports car, the 300 SL was the street version of the powerful and impressive Mercedes-Benz competition car that won the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans. When Mercedes-Benz introduced the sleek 300 SL Gullwing in 1954, its state-of-the-art design and brilliant performance captured the attention of the automotive world. This impact was repeated in 1957 when the company debuted the striking and versatile 300 SL Roadster. Between 1957 and 1963, 1,858 roadsters were built, each a showcase of Mercedes-Benz’s exceptional engineering, styling, and build quality.
Throughout production, numerous improvements were made including, most notably, the addition of four-wheel disc brakes beginning with chassis no. 2780, and aluminum engine blocks beginning with chassis no. 3049. The disc brakes dramatically reduced unsprung weight, and those familiar with both drum- and disc-brake 300 SL Roadsters have noted that the later cars are more nimble and offer more consistent stopping power. The aluminum engine block contributed to approximately 50 lbs. of weight savings over the front axle, further enhancing steering and handling responses while improving front/rear weight distribution. The final 218 300 SL Roadsters – now commonly referred to as the “disc-brake, alloy-block” cars – are the most coveted of the line for good reason and have the distinction of being the last hand-built, body-on-frame Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.
According to a copy of the original factory data card, this disc-brake, alloy-block 300 SL Roadster was constructed at Mercedes-Benz in May 1962. Originally finished in Light Ivory (DB 620) with a Black (DB 40) hardtop, black fabric soft top, and red leather upholstery, this SL Roadster was specified as a European example, with the desirable one-piece headlamps and metric instruments. As is common with late-production roadsters, this car was originally outfitted with “Sport” wheels – finished in chrome with polished aluminum rims – wearing Continental tires.
Though little is recorded of this 300 SL’s earliest years, it was eventually exported to the US and, by the early 1970s, settled in California. After passing through the ownership of two collectors in the San Francisco Bay Area, this roadster was acquired by famed classic car collector Bruce Meyer of Beverly Hills, California. In 1979 or 1980, Gull Wing Group member Duane Durham of Vail, Arizona, acquired the SL and it remained in his care for over three decades before being acquired by the current owner, a longtime marque enthusiast.
Having seen relatively little use in recent years, this 300 SL Roadster presents as an attractive and well-kept example, with a wonderful patina to its original features, including the handsome red leather upholstery and black canvas soft top. Showing fewer than 81,000 km (50,000 miles), outfitted with period-correct whitewall tires, proper European headlights, and a black factory hardtop, the SL is also accompanied by an owner’s manual and jack.
As 300 SL Roadsters continue to grow in popularity as the near-perfect touring cars that they are, many top collectors are looking for that one special roadster among the few available each year. Given its striking original color scheme and well-preserved original interior, this disc-brake, alloy-block roadster is certainly a standout among this elite group. Having spent over 30 years in single family ownership, complete with a factory hardtop, and eligible for a host of international events, this is quite possibly the ideal example of one of the most universally admired sports cars of all time. By all accounts, this is an opportunity to be seized.