Auctions and Brokerage
Late-Production Disc-Brake, Alloy-Block ExamplePrivate Collection, Las Vegas, Nevada (acquired in 1975)Steve Barnes, Boston, Massachusetts (acquired from the above in 1989)Private Collection (acquired in 1990)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
An elite road 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 Coupe in 1954, it commanded the attention of the automotive world. That impact resounded 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.
Notable improvements were made throughout production, including the addition of four-wheel disc brakes (beginning with chassis 2780), andaluminum engine blocks (starting with chassis 3049) were fitted to the final 210 examples. The disc brakes dramatically reduced the Roadster’s unsprung weight, and those with experience driving both drum- and discbrake cars noted that the latter were more nimble and light-footed on the road. Further, approximately 50 lbs. of weight over the front axle was saved through the use of the alloy-block engine, improving steering and handling characteristics and providing for a more even front/rear weight distribution.
These ultimate-specification 300 SL Roadsters, commonly referred to as the “disc-brake, alloy-block” cars, account for just over 10% of total production and have become the most coveted of the now-legendary model. Truly the end of an era, these late-production 300 SL Roadsters have the distinction of being the last hand-built, body-on-frame Mercedes-Benz passenger cars; today, they are considered among the best tour and rally cars of any price bracket.
Chassis 3170, presented here, has the rare distinction of retaining its matching-numbers, alloy-block engine, according to its factory build record. For almost 25 years, it was part of a renowned Northwest-based collection of the world’s finest sports and racing cars. Like every car in the collection, the Roadster was treated with expert care and the utmost respect. Initially restored in the late 1980s by renowned shop Gullwing Service Company (later called Paul Russell and Company) in Massachusetts prior to joining the collection, this 300 SL was regularly exercised and maintained by the esteemed Dennison International.
In 2014, the Roadster was acquired by the consignor, and was returned to its elegant, original color combination of Weissgrau (DB 158, White Gray), with a fresh Black (DB 201) leather interior and new soft top. The car has also received a service within the last 100 miles. It presents very well with good brightwork, European headlights, and polished-alloy wheel rims. The wheel covers, factory hardtop, and soft top are smartly finished in black, creating a sophisticated overall look. The engine compartment shows only light signs of use, with clean satin black finishes, proper decals and fasteners, and a polished intake manifold.
As enthusiasts increasingly recognize 300 SL Roadsters as near-perfect road cars, many top collectors search for that one special example among the few offered each year. This disc-brake, alloy-block Roadster – one of the last 100 built – is a standout among that elite group. Accompanied by a hardtop, books, tools, and a copy of the original factory data card, and offering a matching-numbers engine, top-of-the-line specifications, and original colors, 3170 is quite possibly an ideal example of one of the most universally admired postwar sports cars of all time. By all accounts, this 300 SL represents a very special opportunity.