The Mercedes Benz 300SL roadster was introduced in 1957 as a direct descendant of the famous Gullwing. It’s rare in automotive history that a convertible would bring about the demise of the coupe version on which it was based, however with the 300SL it was a case of succession—the roadster replaced the Gullwing.
As the roadster was based on the Gullwing, there were many similarities between the two, the former encompassing several enhancements that were to increase the car’s desirability. The roadster had styling cues that changed only slightly. Larger fenders, different headlights, a smaller grille and a chrome strip down the side distinguished it from its brother.
Since the 300SL convertible lacked the strength and rigidity offered by the Gullwing’s roof, engineers had to redesign the chassis to maintain structural integrity. As a consequence, the car is slightly heavier, yet has an extra 20 horsepower to help offset the difference. Aerodynamics were not as favorable, but the roadster could still nudge 155 mph.
The 300SL presented here by RM Auctions is one of the rarest. Regarded as one of ten known to exist with the special high-performance engine, this car was delivered with six Rudge wheels, a Becker Mexico radio with short-wave option, engine chrome dress-up kit, factory fitted hard top, and fitted luggage. The car retains all these options except the engine dress up kit, which could be reinstalled.
This car was delivered new to race driver and Mercedes-Benz enthusiast Erwin Goldschmidt. He owned the car for some time; it then passed to John Saul and Thomas Edward Carr in 1981. Carr owned the roadster until 1988, when he sold it partly restored to MercedesBenz specialist and Pebble Beach award-winning restorer Paul Russell, who planned to complete it to his own exacting specifications. However, pressure of work meant he never found the time, and he sold it to its present owner.