1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL AMG Coupe

The original Mercedes-Benz 300SL is rightly regarded as one of the most brilliant and iconic sports cars of the 20th century. Representing a fusion of competition success with elegance and inspired design, the 300SL, in Coupe or Roadster form, is one of the most coveted automobiles on today’s collector car market.

So why was this 1954 300SL Gullwing Coupe updated by Mercedes-Benz’s own AMG tuning division, to employ the performance and technology of a modern high-performance automobile? According to AMG Project Manager Volker Niewig, the project was a request by the Royal Family of Brunei.

This particular car, which was completed in 2006, is based on an original 300SL from 1954 and retains the original steel body and aluminum bonnet and boot lid. Subtle body modifications include the addition of electric mirrors and relocated fuel-filler pipe and door. The exterior package is complemented by green-tinted glass and modern AMG light-alloy wheels.

Mechanically, the car features a restored 300SL tubular chassis, modified to accommodate a 6-liter AMG M119 V8 engine. This produces 380 horsepower and is mated to a Mercedes-Benz W4A 4-speed automatic. The 300SL is electronically limited to 155 mph.

These bespoke cars cost in excess of ?1m to build. Handling was improved by replacing the original swing-axle rear suspension with a 1989-2001 R129 rear axle. A Bilstein adjustable sports suspension was added, with power disc brakes and power steering. Road grip and steering benefit from low profile, high-performance tires.

The car’s cockpit displays the original layout, but with adjustable, leather-trimmed Recaro seats, three-point safety belts, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Nappa leather upholstery extends to the center console and the lower door panels as well as the dashboard and rear luggage shelf.

Other subtle interior touches include a steering-column lock and a set of original 300SL AMG Coupe instruments adapted to modern technology and electronic operation. A modern air conditioning and heating system has been fitted, and there’s a classic Becker radio, six-disc CD changer, and iPod link.

Only eleven 300SLs were modified by AMG between 1996 and 2009, five for the Brunei Royal Family and six for select AMG customers. Of these eleven cars, eight were coupes and four were right-hand drive. According to AMG, no further examples are likely.

The AMG alloy wheels and electric mirrors were fitted to this car, but the next owner could fit period-style mirrors and wheels.

Miles Collier

Miles Collier - SCM Contributor

Miles is a retired business executive, practicing artist, investor, philanthropist and noted authority on vintage automobiles. He nurtured his interest in art at Yale University, where he received a B.A. in Painting. When family business intervened, he received an MBA from Columbia University. He retired as Managing Partner of Collier Enterprises in 1995 and returned to painting, which he does professionally. Collier maintains a significant automobile collection in Naples, FL. He recently hosted one of his prestigious symposiums on automobile connoisseurship.

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