Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

The 1961 Mercedes 300 SL Roadster...

was sold at a price of $ 627,000 - After a successful four-year production run, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupe was retired in 1957. With a peerless racing pedigree to match its innovative design and top speeds approaching 150 mph at a time when lesser cars struggled to break 100, it remains one of motoring’s undisputed icons and the stuff of legends. For 1957, however, Mercedes introduced the 300 SL Roadster at Geneva, stating, “the 300 SL Roadster is our response to the demand in many countries for a particularly fast, comfortable, open sports car. This automobile offers a wide range of technical achievements for even greater driving safety and motoring comfort as well as a high standard of practical everyday value for touring in real style.”Perhaps Mercedes had understated the true sporting nature of the car, as it was based in no small part on the Gullwing that preceded it, bearing the same engine and mechanicals as its older brother.

There were certain differences of course. Stylistic changes from the Gullwing included larger front fenders, revised headlamps, a smaller grille and a chrome strip running down each side of the car. Since the 300 SL Roadster lacked the strength and rigidity offered by the Gullwing’s roof, Mercedes engineers redesigned the car’s chassis to maintain its structural integrity, rendering it slightly heavier. Additional power was gained by including a higher-performance camshaft and increasing the compression ratio, offsetting the weight penalty of the Roadster. While the aerodynamics of the Roadster were not as favorable as those of the Gullwing, it could still nudge 155 mph with the right gearing, and for many years, it remained one of the world’s fastest road cars. The Roadster additionally benefited from a redesigned rear suspension, utilizing an improved single-joint swing axle rear suspension with two coil springs and a third ‘compensation’ coil spring to reduce swinging movements. This redesign greatly improved the 300 SL’s handling, which formerly included a tendency to over-steer on high-speed corners.

1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL RoadsterThis wonderful example from 1961 was purchased new in Newport, California and spent most of the intervening years in Coronado, California. Approximately 10 years ago, the current enthusiast-owner acquired it from Paul Russell in Essex, Massachusetts. Since it was already a beautifully running and driving car, the 300 SL was purchased with the intention to be driven and enjoyed first and then restored later. Accordingly, it was shipped to the new owner’s home in Florida, and soon after, it was serviced, had the belts and hoses changed and was entered into the New England 1000 classic rally, as well as being driven from Florida to New England and back – a total of 3,800 miles. It performed flawlessly. Next, the 300 SL was driven in the Florida 1000 classic rally, running through Northern Florida and Southern Georgia, again performing as it should and accumulating another 1,750 miles.

Ageless Automotive of Deerfield Beach, Florida then performed a full cosmetic restoration. There, the body of the SL was completely stripped and refinished in factory-original silver, while Ageless Upholstery reupholstered the interior in original colors with new blue upholstery and a new blue convertible top. The SL was sent to Hjeltness Restorations in Escondido, California, where Jerry Hjeltness, a noted 300 SL expert, installed one of his expertly engineered air-conditioning systems, with the beautiful installation including factory-appearing machined under-dash outlets and a condenser discreetly hidden beneath the driver’s side doorsill. Best of all, this neat installation can easily be reversed, should the new owner desire to return the car to its stock configuration.