The ultimate version of Mercedes’ “sports car of the century” is up for grabs.
Alongside a $1 million Porsche 918 Spyder and this super-rare Jaguar XJ220, the upcoming RM Sotheby’s Arizona event will feature a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing that could command a $9 million bid. That’s over four times what pristine examples of the 20th century’s greatest sports car usually fetch at auction.
In its day, the unmistakable Formula One-bred German coupe held the distinction of being the world’s fastest road-going vehicle. While the production version made those distinctive gullwing-style doors famous, Mercedes-Benz first adopted the design on the racing version three years earlier to save weight.
Those track cars would win titles at the Nurburgring, Carrera Panamericana and Le Mans throughout 1952 before 1,400 coupes were manufactured from 1954 to 1957. Today, those production 300SL Gullwings are valued at $1.65 million in utmost Concours condition, according to Hagerty.
But as an ultimate expression of the famous roof-hinged roadster, the one here is in a class above even those perfect-condition million-dollar cars.
Chassis No. 5500332 is one of just 29 to get the performance-oriented Leichtmetallausführung, or Light Metal Version, designation. Conceived by Mercedes-Benz Chief of Engineering Dr. Fritz Nallinger, these 300SL Gullwing “Alloys” got all-aluminum bodies and plexiglass windows that further reduced weight by 209 pounds.
While the diet had the most substantial impact on performance, these cars also ran a race-bred 3.0-liter inline-six equipped with a competition camshaft, higher compression ratio, unique butterfly throttle valve, and recalibrated fuel distributor to deliver in excess of 215 horsepower.
Center-mounted wheels and special vented front brake drums came standard, while the suspension was overhauled with new springs and shocks.
RM Sotheby’s lists an extensive provenance for this car, which was originally ordered wit ha silver gray metallic over blue vinyl/blue gabardine interior by Mercedes-Benz agent Joseph F. Weckerle, an accomplished racer based in Casablanca, Morocco.
Here are some lifetime highlights:
Early in its life, the “Weckerlé Alloy” was imported to the United States. By 1962, it had entered the ownership of Mercer D. Helms from Montgomery, Alabama. In 1975, Helms sold it to Jack F. Bryan Jr. of Dallas, Texas. Bryan immediately submitted the car to the world’s foremost 300 SL repair facility, Paul Russell and Company in Essex, Massachusetts (then operating under the name Gullwing Service Company in nearby Topsfield) for a complete restoration
This restoration work was completed in late 1979; handwritten work orders on file show a then-astronomical $45,000 ($172,000 in 2021 dollars) spent in returning this special Gullwing to roadgoing perfection.
The quality of Russell’s work was immediately substantiated when the car was named the “Best Gullwing” at the Gullwing Group’s 1980 National Meeting.
With such an exquisitely restored example of the rare Alloy Gullwing, it should come as no surprise that Bryan almost immediately began receiving inquiries on the car. By 1982, a sufficiently flush offer was secured from the then-president of the Gullwing Group, Hyatt Cheek
An owner of many fine examples of Mercedes-Benz’s best models, Cheek did not let the rarified configuration of the Weckerlé Alloy prevent him from using the car.
Event records show that he regularly drove it to MBCA and Gullwing Group events all over the country. He also completed several iterations of the famous Colorado Grand and Texas 1000 road rallies, in addition to those driving tours organized by the MBCA and Gullwing Group.
After three decades of storied ownership by one of America’s foremost marque enthusiasts, this Alloy Gullwing was acquired by the consignor in 2014
RM Sotheby’s lists a pre-auction evaluation of $7-9 million for this 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing—click here to learn more.