Classic Classified: Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing

From: Road & Track, April 1964

Price then: $6,500 ($52,000 adjusted for inflation)

Price now: $4,200,000 – $6,900,000

Approximate dollar difference: $6,848,000 (Assuming #1 condition)

Annual rate of return: 9.6%

Mercedes-Benz 300-SL Gullwing. Former works car, aluminum body, four-spoke factory wheels. This car is the only Gullwing in existence with the roadster-type rear axle. Just overhauled and completely restored by Mercedes factory. Price $6,500 firm.

Simply put, the 300 SL is high on the list of all-time greats. Its groundbreaking styling, performance, and technology made it an instant success, and today it is one of the most collectible cars from the 1950s. At the heart of the 300SL is a 3.0-liter overhead cam inline-six engine utilizing a groundbreaking Bosch direct fuel injection system. While this technology is common today, in the 1950s it had never been seen outside of aircraft use. This delivered noticeable power gains over the standard 3.0-liter Mercedes engine, making the 300 SL the fastest production car of its time. These cars saw a sharp increase in value between late 2011 to 2014, and the growth was even more pronounced for alloy-bodied cars like this one. For any serious Mercedes collector, the alloy-bodied Gullwings are a prized centerpiece. Luckily for those shopping for one in 1964, an SL was still a decade-old used car and could be had for a bit more than a well-optioned Corvette at the time. Wild.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing ad
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing ad Road & Track
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    This is wild, found this photo in a historic racing group. Googling the text landed me here. The most interesting part is blurred out here: it was listed for sale by legendary motorsports photographer Jesse Alexander, a close friend of my family. RIP, and I’m sure he’s still kicking himself for this one!

    I began reading Road and Track in summer 1954 when Mercedes was back in Formula 1 and ruling it with the most advanced design at the time. The Gull Wing had just come out and it was instantly my dream car partly for its advanced engineering for the time and its timeless great styling. I instantly fell in love with it and still rank it as the most beautiful car ever. Look at the front to rear proportions with the long power hood. It has an all together sense of unity and yet it has all sorts of details that a lesser design couldn’t visually control. There’s the power bumps on the hood, wheel eye lids, the side air exhausts. And the car looks powerful but it’s done so simply with the gentle curves of the front fenders. And, of course there’s the gull wing doors, never outdone as an iconic styling and yet utilitarian characteristic. The crazy doors of exotics of today can’t hold a candle to them. They had class where the doors today are show off. Think even of getting in the car, having to lift ones legs high and then over the wide sill. That’s a memorable experience, a pain but seemingly a valid price to pay to drive such a legend and the when it’s explained that the entry adventure is because of the then space age space frame, all is forgiven. and finally there’s the direct cylinder fuel injection. Who else had anything to compare, actually for decades. Yes there was fuel injection but not direct for at least a generation. And if there is ONE Gull Wing to have its the Ludvisgen alloy body with the convertible low pivot rear suspension, the unique top singular Gull Wing of the iconic Gull wing period pyramid. If I ever win the lottery this my must have adult toy.

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