2022 | Pebble Beach Auctions
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
$1,500,000 - $2,000,000
The Second 300 SL Roadster Built; Features Numerous Early Production Details
Displayed at the 1958 New York International Auto Show
Single Family Ownership Since 1975; Less than 39,000 Miles from New
Original Color Scheme and Matching-Numbers Engine per Factory Records
Sympathetically Restored by Renowned SL Specialist Hjeltness Restoration
Offered with Original Karl Baisch Luggage, Books, Tool Kit, Jack, and Records
2,996 CC SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Bosch Mechanical Fuel Injection
240 BHP at 6,200 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes
Front Independent Double-Wishbone Suspension with Coil Springs
Rear Swing-Axle Suspension with Coil Springs
George R. Hill, Mahwah, New Jersey (acquired new in 1958)
Charles H. Selick and family, New Jersey (acquired from the estate of the above in 1975)
New York International Automobile Show, 1958
In March 1957, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the 300 SL Roadster, employing a host of mechanical advancements and stylistic revisions to create a new, open version of the successful Gullwing. Chief among these were a new rear-axle design that improved high-speed handling and a modified space-frame chassis, which allowed for conventionally hinged doors. The new Roadster offered easier ingress, roll-up windows; a useful trunk; and the thrill of high-performance, open-air motoring.
In total, Mercedes-Benz built 1,858 examples of the 300 SL Roadster, steadily updating the model until production ceased in 1963. Among the most collectible Roadsters are those built at the very start of production, which contained carryover Gullwing components and unique, hand-tooled features, and those completed at the end of the run, which had alloy engine blocks and four-wheel disc brakes.
The 300 SL presented here, chassis 7500038, is particularly noteworthy, as it is the second production Roadster built. According to a copy of its factory data card on file, this car was completed in March 1957, fitted with body no. 7500002 and engine no. 7500036.
According to the Daimler-Benz archives, 618 production Roadsters were made for the 1957 model year. Of these, the first three – chassis 7500037, 7500038, and 7500060 – used 1957 Gullwing chassis numbers and were built prior to the standard Roadster chassis number sequence, which began with 7500080 and continued, uninterrupted, through 7500694.
When new, this 300 SL was elegantly finished in Elfenbein (Ivory, DB 608) with red leather upholstery and a black soft top. Optional equipment included a Becker Mexico radio, fitted luggage, driver’s-side rearview mirror, Michelin tires, and US-market lighting and instrumentation. The car’s build record also carries the important notation “Internat. Automobil Salon New York Standwagen,” indicating that this Roadster served as the official New York show car. As the 1957 show was held in December 1956, 7500038 was likely retained for promotional duties and displayed at the 1958 New York International Automobile Show, held April 5th–13th.
Two weeks later, on April 30, 1958, the 300 SL was sold to its first private owner, George R. Hill, a businessman living in Mahwah, New Jersey. After Mr. Hill’s death, his wife Henriette sold the prized Roadster to a local car collector named Charles H. Selick. When Mr. Selick purchased the car in December 1975, it had covered just 37,523 miles and was repainted in traditional Mercedes-Benz silver. Throughout his decades-long ownership, Mr. Selick admired and maintained the SL, but rarely drove it, accruing less than 100 miles over 25 years.
After inheriting the 300 SL Roadster, the consignor, who himself is a collector of British and German sports cars, commissioned the renowned Mercedes-Benz specialist Hjeltness Restoration of Escondido, California, to perform a sympathetic, body-on restoration. This work, carried out between 2016 and 2019 at a cost of nearly $600,000, returned this important Mercedes-Benz to its original color scheme, while taking care to preserve as much originality as possible. As a result, the Roadster retains most of its nicely patinated original upholstery, with the exception of the seats, which have been re-trimmed in proper unperforated red leather.
Beautifully presented in all respects, this significant SL displayed just 38,999 miles at the time of cataloguing. Resplendent in its attractive original color scheme, 7500038 is accompanied by its original Karl Baisch luggage set, Becker Mexico radio, tool kit, jack, instruction manual, parts catalogue, and service book, as well as its Becker manual and warranty card.
Contained in the history file is a copy of the factory data card, which confirms that 7500038 retains its matching-numbers engine, together with various records dating back to 1975 all the way through to recent invoices from Hjeltness Restoration.
Of all the 300 SLs built, a few special examples stand apart in the minds of connoisseurs. The car presented here is among the best of the highly collectible early production Roadsters – the second example built, a factory New York show car, retaining its original colors, engine, and important accessories. Its history is well documented and its presentation is superb, having been maintained in single family ownership since 1975 with a recent restoration undertaken by one of the foremost marque specialists.
For the collector in search of a truly special 300 SL, this early Roadster is worthy of serious consideration.