Auctions and Brokerage
As 300 SL Gullwing production was winding down in 1956, German magazine Auto, Motor und Sport reported the first sighting of a modified 300 SL chassis in roadster form in Stuttgart. Launched in March 1957 at the influential Geneva show, the 300 SL Roadster entered production that May, alongside the last Gullwing coupes. Just 1,858 300 SL Roadsters were built in all through 1963, largely by hand, consistent with Mercedes-Benz tradition. The process of creating an open 300 SL variant was actually quite complex and while visually similar to the Gullwing, Roadsters shared surprisingly little with their closed brethren. Handling was improved and made more forgiving with rear suspension upgrades including a compensator spring over the rear swing axles and fitment of Michelin X steel-belted radial tires. The Roadster’s additional weight was offset with a more aggressive, competition-spec camshaft for the 3.0-liter engine and an optional high-compression ratio. Top speeds approached and sometimes exceeded 140 miles per hour, depending upon the final-drive ratio selected.
Predictably, the glamorous and very fast 300 SL Roadster was quite popular among the top celebrities and luminaries of the era. Despite pricing from over $11,000 – comparable to a new Rolls-Royce, the costly and low-production 300 SL did remarkably little to enhance the Daimler-Benz company treasury. However, its influence and incalculable “halo effect” for its maker continues stronger than ever today, with no serious collection of landmark sports cars considered truly complete without the presence of at least one top-quality example, epitomized by the vehicle offered here.
Exceedingly rare as one of just 26 Roadsters built for the final 1963 model year, this beautifully presented example was factory-fitted during production in the ultimate specification, including Dunlop four-wheel disc brakes and a lighter-weight aluminum alloy engine. Accompanied at auction by copies of its original factory production order addendum and data card, this 300 SL Roadster was special-ordered and produced for Kurt Barnekow, the renowned German businessman and furniture manufacturer from the Hamburg area, who founded KUBAH, an innovative nationwide furniture-retailing chain during the 1950s. A noted automobile enthusiast with a small but choice collection, Mr. Barnekow retained this 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster into the 1990s.
During the 2000s, noted car collector Peter Livanos became the glamorous vehicle’s second private owner. During his tenure, the roadster was granted a FIVA Identity Card and displayed at the 2005 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and 2006 Gstaad Classic.
Subsequently, the 300 SL was sold to Etienne Veen, who commissioned Pichler GFG AG, the Swiss Mercedes-Benz Classic Center location in Gstaad, to perform a complete restoration. This work, carried out between 2008 and 2010, included refinishing the car in its distinctive original color scheme of Bisquitgelb (Biscuit Yellow, DB 648) over Cognac leather, set off by a contrasting black hardtop.
In 2014, following a return to Pichler for service work, the 300 SL was sold to UK collector William Ainscough. The next year, it passed from Mr. Ainscough to the consignor. In mid-2019, the fuel-injection system and rear axle were overhauled, the latter returned to its factory-original 3.64:1 ratio. According to marque experts familiar with this vehicle, the factory-original alloy engine block was replaced by the currently installed unstamped block, a proper alloy unit, early in the car’s lifetime, a not-too-uncommon occurrence.
As offered, this 300 SL is simply lovely in presentation and it continues to benefit handsomely from the concours-quality restoration, maintenance, and care it has received. Enhancing its iconic good looks and Biscuit Yellow paint finish are factory-specified Cognac leather interior upholstery, a Chocolate Brown convertible top, and Black hardtop, accompanied by color-coded hub caps. Fascinating details include the thermometer housed within the driver’s side wing mirror and a lovely set of fitted luggage. Other desirable items include tools and roadside jack, plus copies of the original factory data card, order form addendum, FIVA Identity Card, technical information, a selection of service records, photos, and biographical information on its long-term original owner, Kurt Barnekow. Letters from Mercedes-Benz to Mr. Barnekow are also included, accompanied by a rare, factory-issued commemorative medallion. In summary, the 300 SL is an unqualified design and engineering tour de force that continues to occupy a place on virtually every list ranking the all-time greatest sports cars ever conceived and built. As offered, this very special and rare disc-brake, alloy-engine 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster is a truly fitting exemplar of this storied breed from the final model year.
*Please note that this lot is currently located in the UK. It is UK registered and has a UK DVLA issued V5C.
*Please note that the Seller of this Lot is a private individual.
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