Mercedes-Benz W198 II 300 SL Roadster

  • Probably the last 300 SL Roadster ever built
  • Manufactured after the official end of production in March 1963 on special order
  • Disc brakes ex works
  • Extensively documented
  • Matching numbers
  • Fully restored
Interior:Leather blue
Gearing Type:Manual
Mileage:12.107 km (since restoration)
Power:215 HP

* Consumption: 17.3 l according to DIN 70030, determined at 3/4 of the maximum speed, maximum 110 km/h, with an additional 10 %.

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The Mercedes-Benz W198 300 SL Roadster

The legendary gullwing coupé was the first thoroughbred sports car to be developed at Daimler-Benz after the war. This development was initiated by Max Hoffman, a US American of Austrian descent, who had been acting as the official importer of Mercedes-Benz vehicles since September 1952. The Board of Management saw Hoffman's desire to sell sports cars bearing the Mercedes star as a welcome opportunity to open up the US market for Daimler-Benz and was persuaded: in September 1953 the starting shot was fired for the development of two sports car types. The production version of the 300 SL, which was presented as a result of this development in February 1954 at the "International Motor Sports Show" in New York, was based on the racing sports car of the 1952 season, from which came the most striking feature, the famous gullwing doors, which earned the car the name "Gullwing" in Anglo-Saxon usage. This unusual solution was not conceived as a publicity-grabbing design gag, but had - as already in the racing sports car - compelling, design-related causes: The lattice tube frame taken over from the SL racing car, which weighed in at only 50 kg with extreme load-bearing capacity, had the disadvantage that its overall height did not allow for conventional doors. Further innovations were concealed beneath the streamlined bodywork: For example, petrol injection was used for the first time in a Mercedes-Benz production vehicle; it enabled a power increase of 40 hp compared to the carburettor-equipped racing version. The engine was installed at an angle to the side, so that a particularly flat and streamlined front end could be realised. The consistent lightweight construction - the weight of the ready-to-drive car with spare wheel, tools and fuel was 1295 kg - also helped the 300 SL to achieve its sensational driving performance: Depending on the rear axle ratio, a top speed of between 235 km/h and 260 km/h was achievable. The chassis was essentially the same as that of the 300 saloon, but dispensed with the additional suspension and was tuned for a sportier ride. From August 1954 to May 1957, 1,400 examples were built in Sindelfingen, 29 of them with light alloy bodywork and one test vehicle with plastic bodywork. The one-off with GRP bodywork can be clearly identified by two special features: It has additional indicator lights located on the front wings, as known from the Type 220 a, and has doors with larger gaps that do not close completely flush. At the Geneva Motor Show in March 1957, a roadster was presented as the successor to the gullwing, which, like its predecessor, was the brainchild of Max Hoffman. He had been pushing for an open-top version of the 300 SL for some time, for which he saw good sales opportunities on the US market. Technically, the roadster was largely the same as the coupé; by modifying the side panels of the lattice tube frame, the entrance height could be reduced to such an extent that normal doors could be realised. The rear wheel suspension was fundamentally improved: The single-joint swing axle with a lowered pivot point, already known from the Type 220 a, was now also installed in the 300 SL Roadster in an adapted form and was equipped with a compensating spring for the first time. Compared to the original swing axle of the gullwing coupé, the driving characteristics were significantly improved. From October 1958, a removable coupé roof was available as an optional extra at a price of DM 1,500 and could also be retrofitted on request. Remarkable were the wide rear window and the stylistically successful design of the hardtop. Of the technical changes that went into production over the course of six years, two are particularly noteworthy: In March 1961, the 300 SL was fitted with Dunlop disc brakes on the front and rear wheels, and from March 1962 a modified engine with light alloy block was installed. One special version of the 300 SL Roadster should not go unmentioned: the 300 SLS built in two copies for participation in the American Sports Car Championship. The background to this special production was the fact that after the start of production of the Roadster, publicity-boosting racing events in the USA were planned to promote sales. The use of the regular production version was opposed by the refusal of the "Sports Car Club of America" to allow the new type to be entered in the "Standard Production" category for the 1957 season. In order not to be without a chance in the only alternative possible racing category D, the standard roadster was slimmed down to the SLS by every trick in the book. Externally, the 300 SLS could be recognised by the missing bumpers, a specially shaped cockpit cover with an air intake slot, the narrow racing windscreen and the roll bar behind the driver's seat. At least the work carried out in the Daimler-Benz testing department was successful: Paul O'Shea won the American sports car championship in category D with a clear lead over the competition. Production of the 300 SL - and at the same time that of the 190 SL - came to an end in Sindelfingen on 8 February 1963. This date marked the end of an era at Daimler-Benz: after production of the Type 300 had already been discontinued in March 1962, the 300 SL was the last passenger car model with a separate frame to disappear from the production programme. Both versions of the 300 SL, the roadster and the gullwing coupé, have been extremely popular cars from the very beginning and have lost none of their fascination to this day; they have been among the most sought-after and best-noted classics for years.

The W198 300 SL Roadster offered here was completed on 7 March 1963, weeks after the official end of production, as evidenced by the order number, which was actually intended for a 300 SE. It can therefore be assumed that this car was the last 300 SL Roadster ever to leave the factory in the final year of production of this model series. According to the information available to us, the car changed hands a total of three times up to 2001. In May 2001, the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Fellbach acquired the roadster from its Danish owner and subsequently offered the car for sale. At the time of its purchase by Mercedes, the 300 SL was painted silver grey, contrary to its original delivery colour of graphite grey. The Classic Center describes the car at the time in 2001 as being in "good used condition, expertly carried out partial restoration with engine, gearbox and body in original condition. However, cosmetic work is recommended". The following year, the 300 SL was sold to a German collector. It was agreed that the car would undergo an extensive full restoration. To this end, the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center commissioned the company Mechatronik, which began work on the 300 SL Roadster in October 2002. In the following 3 years, the car underwent an extensive full restoration, which was documented in detail, until its completion in late autumn 2005. Since then, the vehicle remained in the owner's collection and was only driven on selected occasions and events over a period of 18 years. The mileage during this period was only 12,100 kilometres. We are pleased to add another highlight to our sales offer with this Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster. Our sales staff will be happy to answer any detailed questions you may have. Please note that vehicle inspections are only possible by prior appointment.