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Documented as one of the very last 300 SL Roadsters delivered, this particular example was finished in Gray-Blue (DB 166) with a red leather interior and a black factory hardtop. Produced in 1963, the Mercedes-Benz was completed well ahead of final delivery, as its chassis number places it around the 50th-to-last roadster. Additionally specified as a European example, the car features the desirable European headlights, which were, more notably, fitted with factory stone guards. As is common with late- production roadsters, the car carries “Sport” wheels finished in chrome with alloy rims.
While records indicate that the Roadster was specified for delivery in Iran on February 24, 1964, making it the third-to-last 300 SL delivered, it is unknown if the car was ever shipped to the Middle East. As one of just three cars invoiced in 1964, this 300 SL has in fact remained titled throughout the years as a 1964 model. While the earliest history remains unknown, by 1971 the 300 SL had made its way to the Seattle area and was listed for sale with the noted Phil Smart Mercedes-Benz. In late 1971, the 300 SL was purchased by a Bellingham, Washington gentleman. During his ownership, the 300 SL was used sparingly and garnered great attention and care. With the exception of an outside-only repaint conducted during the 1970s, the 300 SL Roadster was left as original as possible. Eventually, an attempt to rebuild the brakes was paused, and the aging sports car found itself a fixture in the Northwest garage. Eventually, it was discovered by a Seattle-area marque enthusiast and the 300 SL passed into a collection featuring a very original Gullwing and drum-brake Roadster.
Today, the 300 SL Roadster presents ideally, as one would expect after 42 years of single ownership. Without having done so much as clean off the dust, the romance of this discovery continues upon even close inspection. While the gas tank has recently been cleaned and the brakes serviced, little more would show that the Roadster has now been brought to running condition. It should be noted that while the engine retains its original riveted data tag with engine number, the alloy block itself is unstamped. The mechanical condition of the Mercedes-Benz has recently impressed a highly regarded, long-term 300 SL mechanic who believed that bringing the car up to proper driving order would be fairly straightforward.
Given the car’s mileage, just 80,237 km (49,856 miles), the 300 SL is expected to perform and handle as only a low-mileage, original example should. While mileage is not always an indication of a car’s overall quality, it can be said that the care and attention awarded this Mercedes-Benz is exemplary.
The brightwork is largely straight and free of corrosion and is believed to be entirely original. The body presents equally well, exhibiting only minor blemishes, dings, and scratches since the outside repaint some 40 years ago. The doors, hood, and trunk open and close with extreme ease, and the panel fit is in keeping with a car that has never been disassembled. Even the doorjambs are remarkable, with original paint and door latch hardware lacking the usual abuse.
The interior is exceptionally inviting, with originality and a patina only decades of dutiful ownership can produce. The leather is supple throughout, showing only minor wear from age. The gauges and the remainder of the dash remain crisp and highly presentable. The original top accompanies the car, although its rear window has yellowed and the canvas has hardened and tightened. Additionally, the Roadster is complete with an owner’s manual in German, and one in English, a service book, a Becker radio manual, and an original tool kit that appears quite complete.
Furthermore, the Roadster retains the very unusual, and incredibly rare headlight stone guards which uniquely form to the European specification headlamps. Perhaps the only non-original items on the 300 SL are the four Bosch driving lamps mounted across the front bumper, the Bosch air horns mounted behind the grille, and a fantastic original Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel, all of which appear to have been fitted in period. The car’s appearance elicits an image of luxurious high-speed grand touring synonymous with the 300 SL Roadster.
Perhaps one of the most telling signs of the 300 SL’s originality are the factory chalk markings under each seat cushion, noting the last few digits of the car’s production number and either an R or an L denoting the placement.
Given its unique originality and striking original color combination, this late Roadster has a period appeal that is unrivaled. Close examination of this 300 SL is recommended, as extremely few examples survive in such wonderfully pure order.
Made all the more enticing by the decades of dust and dirt, this 300 SL possesses a magnetism only a discovery of this significance can hold. Surely one of the most exciting finds in recent years, the Roadster presented here is notably bettered by its ideal specifications. Careful consideration of this disc-brake, alloy-block Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster is warranted.
The 300 SL Roadster
There is perhaps no sports car more commonly praised than the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, and surely none more iconic. The 300 SL, derived from the legendary SLR, represented a level of engineering and performance unrivaled by any other standard production car of the time. While the Gullwing provided more of a supercar experience, the 300 SL Roadster was a well-rounded, fast, and comfortable offering – to put it simply, it was perfect.
The 300 SL Roadster proved more popular than the Gullwing and after a six-year production run 1,858 examples were built. Prized for their final combination of improved components, the late Roadsters remain the ultimate iteration and among the most sought-after examples of the legendary sports car. Only 218 of these disc-brake, alloy-block cars were built.