In 1954, at the New York Motor Show, Max Hoffman unveiled two new Mercedes sports cars: the 190SL and the 300SL touring car. This car was adapted from the 300SL racing car for road use and its distinguishable feature was its “gullwing” doors.
Although slightly more down to earth than the factory cars, the 300SL remained a car for racing enthusiasts craving acceleration. Mercedes-Benz still managed to sell 1,400 units in four years, but faced with a slump in demand in 1956, the carmaker bowed to pressure from America and brought out a convertible, the Roadster, which was unveiled in March 1957.
Its most distinguishable feature is the addition of conventional doors as a result of a modification to the chassis, which was also strengthened to compensate for the loss of the roof.
This splendid roadster is as alluring as the Gullwing coupe and it was aimed at a clientele more interested in touring than performance, but the already refined engineering was further improved. The engine was still fitted with direct fuel injection, capable of delivering 250 horsepower, and the last roadster models from 1962–63 were fitted with aluminum blocks and disc brakes.
The variations to the rear bodywork were limited, and road holding when cornering became less… unpredictable. Owing to its suitability for driving on the road, its high level of driving comfort and its timeless rare elegance, the popularity rating of the 300SL Roadster improved constantly.
The car presented here was delivered new in San Diego, CA, where it remained in the hands of the Hanes family, from 1957 to 2004, until it was bought directly from them by Mr. Van Amelsfoort. A demanding collector, Mr. Van Amelsfoort wanted a car with a known history and in good original condition, with no trace of rust or accidents.
As shown in the photographs included in the file, in 2004 the car was in good condition. The owner called for a full restoration of the automobile (invoices and photos are included in the car’s file). It was restored by Star Classics, a well-known Mercedes restorer in Den Bosch, Holland. The photographic record of restoration shows that the car was completely stripped bare from the tubular chassis.
The engine and transmission were reviewed (invoices), while the interior, the hood, and the hard top were redone. The car is delivered in black with red interior, which was the original color combination, and it stands today in beautiful condition. It is still equipped with a number of interesting features, including its two original suitcases, the completely restored hard top, and its original radio. Also accompanying the car are the American registration cards in the name of the Hanes family, its five original manuals, including its rare service book, its tool kit, the original user manual, and its Dutch title. This great classic, which still has its original engine, is in superb condition after its quality restoration. It is an exceptional automobile, with well-documented history, and highly desirable extra features.