1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster
s/n 198.042 10-002559, engine no. 198.980 10-002614
Silver with Black Leather Interior
The 300SL was one of the most exotic cars available when it was new. Directly descended from racing cars, and chock full of innovative features, they were fast, beautiful, and expensive. Arguably the first ‘supercar’ ever (others claim that honor should be bestowed upon the Lamborghini Miura), the 300SL has been described as the McLaren F1 of its day. Thanks to Mercedes’ development work during World War II in aircraft engines, the 300SL became the first production car to feature fuel injection (directly injected into the cylinders no less), and the light but strong spaceframe necessitated the now legendary and often copied upwards opening doors on the closed variant of the car. The result was a stunningly beautiful but also functional car that was, depending on gearing, the fastest production car in the world. Surrounded by separate frame carbureted contemporaries, the SL was truly a glimpse of the future and remains today a very special car indeed. Its appeal is timeless and consequently, 300SLs have remained `blue-chip` collector cars that are always in demand and perhaps even culturally embedded as one of the most iconic and greatest cars of all time.
The roadster version was for many years overshadowed by the gullwing; however, as more savvy enthusiasts have become privy to the advantages of the roadster, their values are now catching up to those of the coupes. Indeed, the increased practicality of proper wind-up windows and doors, improved drivability from the revised rear suspension, and inimitable open air experience make the roadster a more enjoyable car to use than the gullwing. Additionally, they were mechanically developed over the years, including the fitment of larger finned drum brakes in 1959.
In 1960, 241 300SL roadsters were built, of which this is the 76th example by production sequence. Originally ordered by Max Hoffmann in New York for American delivery, the order was changed at some point and the car was built to European specification and delivered at the factory to its original American owner, who kept the car in Europe until the summer of 1964, at which point the car was shipped to California. The car is fitted with period Rotunda seat belts with date code “7-64”, likely fitted when the car arrived in the United States.
The car’s second owner was prominent North Hollywood, California collector Mark Tuttle, who purchased the car in the early 1970s and kept it for approximately ten years before selling it to William Lenkeit. The car remained in the Lenkeit family until 1989 at which point it was sold to Complete Exotic Car, a dealership in Florida who then sold it to a Japanese museum where the car remained for twenty years before being imported back to the United States in 2013.
Today, the car is a matching numbers example that is very complete, with hard top, soft top, fitted luggage, tools, and books. Originally finished in DB166 blue grey with blue leather interior, the car was repainted DB180 silver and received a new black leather interior. Cosmetically, the car is a high level driver that is fresh and makes a strong impression, with the restorative work completed to high standards. The body is solid and straight and wears high quality paint which is not to show standards but is ideal for a high end driver. There is minimal wear to the paintwork, the occasional touched in chip and a few small chips to the front of the car from road use. The chrome is excellent, with no significant damage or deterioration to the finish, and the glass and lights are in similarly nice condition. The car is fitted with desirable (and costly!) European headlamps.
The interior is correctly presented and in excellent shape with an attractive mellowing to the leather. The carpets are of the correct square weave material and are in good shape, while the upholstery was done with correct patterns of pleating and perforation. The leather is in beautiful condition, as is the chrome. The dashboard, instruments, and controls are correct and in excellent order. The interior of the hard top is in similarly nice condition, as are the visors. The steering wheel is free of cracks and the entire interior has a light and consistent mellowness, not quite patina that is extremely appealing and matches the exterior perfectly.
The engine compartment is clean and nicely detailed with correct decals, windscreen washer fluid bag and finishes. It is not over-restored, and has a pleasing impression of freshness without appearing over-restored. The firewall and inner fenders were included in the restoration as well, and while the engine compartment is not quite to show standards, it makes an exceptional impression. The trunk is in similar condition, with square weave carpet to match the interior. The jack is present as are two fitted suitcases which are in excellent shape.
The car runs and drives superbly, reminding the driver why the 300SL is such a legendary car, as well as how impressive the car must have been when new. It starts easily and exhibits virtually none of the cold-bloodedness that is virtually a defining feature of the 300SL. The engine is powerful and makes great noise. The gearbox is excellent with slick and precise operation that gives an impression of robustness that does not exist in an Italian gearbox of the same period. The brakes are effective and the 3.64 rear axle ratio with which this car is equipped is well-suited to American roads. The chassis and suspension are capable and confidence-inspiring in a way that encourages the driver to trust the car and drive purposefully.
This is an exceptional opportunity to acquire a very complete 300SL Roadster with many decades of known history. It makes a strong cosmetic impression but is in the perfect state to be driven, being neither too perfect to drive nor too rough or neglected to display. The car runs and drives superbly and is desirably equipped with hardtop, soft top, European headlamps, luggage, tools, books, and records.
Pricing on this particular car is firm.
Fantasy Junction +1 510 653 7555 Emeryville, California 94608 USA
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