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Lot 53

2013   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2013

1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

SOLD $1,622,500

Estimate

$1,600,000 - $2,200,000

Chassis

198.042.10.003142

Engine

198.982.10.000107

Car Highlights

One of Just 210 Disc-Brake, Alloy-Block Roadsters Built
Spectacular, One-of-One Factory Color Combination
A 43,000-Mile Example
Fascinating and Complete History
Equipped with Original Factory Hardtop
Beautifully Preserved 1073 Red Leather Interior
The Ultimate Specification 300 SL Roadster

Technical Specs

2,996 CC SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
250 BHP at 6,200 RPM
Bosch Mechanical Fuel Injection
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Servo-Assisted Disc Brakes
Independent Double-Wishbone Front Suspension
Independent Rear Swing-Axle Suspension

Saleroom Addendum

*Please note that the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center estimates the build date of this disc-brake, alloy-block Roadster as September 1962, but it is commonly known and titled as a 1963.

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This Car

1,858 300 SL Roadsters were built between 1957 and 1963, each a showcase of Mercedes- Benz’s exceptional engineering, styling, and build quality. Throughout production several upgrades were made; most notably, the addition of 4-wheel disc brakes beginning with chassis no. 2780, and the aluminum engine block beginning with chassis no. 3049.

During the final months of 300 SL production, the last 210 cars built received this nowlegendary lightweight alloy engine block, which offered considerable weight savings over the steel block fitted to earlier 300 SLs. The use of the alloy-block engine saved 50 lbs. of weight, improving steering and handling response, and providing for a more even front to rear weight distribution.

It is doubtful that Arthur Dring realized how ideal this specification was when he walked into the Budd and Dyer Mercedes-Benz dealership of Montreal in search of a new 190 SL, and fell in love with the shining gold 300 SL presented here instead. The roadster had been specially ordered for another customer who, for whatever reason, took delivery of a different car.

As the story goes, Mr. Dring arranged to purchase the DB462 Tunis Beige Metallic 300 SL in 1964, and it quickly became one of his most prized possessions. Mr. Dring kept all paperwork that came with the car, including all manuals, tags, instruction books, directories, and warranty cards. The assemblage is truly impressive, especially when considering the pieces that are original to this car and have not been collected after the fact. In 1968, Mr. Dring moved from Montreal to Vancouver and enjoyed the car for the next 42 years, driving the roadster just 42,000 miles during his ownership.

In 2010, Rudi Koniczek, the renowned 300 SL authority and restorer based on Vancouver Island, was contacted by friends of the now-elderly Mr. Dring to inspect the car. What Mr. Koniczek found under a cover in Mr. Dring’s clean, dry garage almost defies description, especially as he was told that the car he would be inspecting was a 190 SL. There sat a disc-brake, alloy-block, hardtopequipped, low-mileage 300 SL Roadster in the rarest of colors, with its original red leather interior, books, and tools, sitting on blocks with deflated tires in its original owner’s unassuming, wooden-floored garage. With the exception of one repaint in its original color by Mercedes-Benz of North Vancouver in the 1980s, Mr. Koniczek describes the car as having been completely original and in incredible condition. Photos taken the day of the inspection confirm the car to be an all-but-perfect and intact example.

As if in unison with the careful and thorough recommissioning it received in Mr. Koniczek’s shop, a Southern California collector and sports car enthusiast contacted Mr. Koniczek as part of his search for a discbrake, alloy-block 300 SL Roadster to add to his collection. His search up to that point had turned up several cars, but as he was looking for a very special example, he had not yet made a purchase.

In December 2010, after posting a deposit based solely on the verbal description of the car, he knew at first sight that he had found the car he was looking for.

Once home, the new owner sought to bring the roadster to a high level of cosmetic detail, knowing that this is a car that should be preserved rather than restored. A special crate was built to protect the original hard and soft tops, and the interior leather, so beautifully preserved for nearly 50 years, was cleaned and treated, but left totally intact.

The consignor has added about 1,500 miles to the 300 SL’s odometer, including having participated in the 2011 Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance. He describes the car as “rock solid, a great touring car, perfect for the open road.” He reports that everything is in perfect working order including the power antenna.

A copy of the factory build record included with the car confirms that this 300 SL retains its original aluminum-block engine, and the car comes complete with its hardtop, original fabric soft top, removable tonneau, tool roll, and jack.

Incredibly, this Roadster still features its irreplaceable factory-original red leather interior, which scarcely appears to be five years old, let alone the 50 that it is. The level of care that the interior must have received throughout its life is truly remarkable, and it is without question one of the finest original interiors remaining in any 300 SL. The leather adds an emotional element to the car that can never be re-created by even the most skilled and fastidious craftsmen.

There is no question that this 300 SL is one of the most exciting 300 SL Roadsters to be offered at public sale in many years. It is built in the final and most desirable specification, and its absolutely unique color combination, original hardtop, and beautifully preserved original interior set it even further apart from others. The car retains the rare characteristics of a factory assembly, preserving its fabled high build quality. In largely undisturbed, original condition, this is a car that can be enjoyed just as it presents today.

A majority of the remaining alloy-block roadsters reside in permanent collections and with veteran Gull Wing Group members – and are not likely to change hands in the foreseeable future – making this truly outstanding example an opportunity worthy of serious consideration.