Unveiled in 2021, the current-generation Mercedes-Benz SL traces its roots to a race-bred coupe that has become incredibly sought-after. The 300SL stunned the world with its gullwing doors when it landed in 1954, and a one-of-a-kind example is about to cross the auction block.
One of the highlights from Mecum’s Glendale 2023 sale is a 1955 300SL assigned chassis number 5500263. One of about 1,400 units built from 1954 to 1957, it’s reportedly the only example finished in Mittelgrün (Medium Green) with a gray leather interior. Mecum notes that this SL was originally delivered in New York. While its first few decades on the road remain a mystery, the coupe joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation’s collection in January 1973 and stayed there for a long time.
This one-of-a-kind SL is said to have received a complete restoration in the late 2000s. The race track’s museum handled the bulk of the work but some of the fit and finish was outsourced to California-based Mercedes-Benz specialist Scott Grundfor Company. The list of work performed includes honing the cylinders, rebuilding the fuel-injection pump, and reupholstering the interior. New window seals were installed, the bright exterior trim pieces were polished, and the suspension system was overhauled. All told, this SL looks as good as it did in 1955 (if not better). It’s not entirely original, though — the interior color was changed from gray to beige during the restoration.
One interesting point is that early SLs weren’t always valuable and sought-after. There was a period when they were simply considered cool old cars, and some ended up modified, driven into the ground, or both. This one has seemingly been spared: Mecum claims it’s still powered by the original, numbers-matching 3.0-liter straight-six that sends 225 horsepower to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission.
When the restoration work was finished, the SL returned to Indianapolis and was occasionally displayed in the track’s museum between 2015 and 2020. It’s now looking for a new home, and it’s being sold with numerous documents (including a copy of the factory build sheet), pictures taken during the restoration process, and a handful of spare parts. Adding a touch of green to your collection will require forking over a massive amount of green: Mecum expects that this 1955 300SL will sell for anywhere between $1,850,000 and $2,000,000.
If that’s too much, or if classic Mercedes-Benz models aren’t your cup of (green) tea, the auction catalog includes something for every enthusiast. Another highlight is a 1990 Ferrari F40 with just 3,413 miles; it could sell for as much as $3.5 million. How about a 1956 Ford flatbed? It’s offered with no reserve, and you can save on shipping by putting another classic on the back before driving home. American roadsters are well represented, there’s anything from a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette (that’s the first year of production) to a 2004 Cadillac XLR, and there’s a surprising number of modern vehicles like a 2022 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Personally, I’d take the 1967 Alfa Romeo Duetto.
Mecum’s Glendale 2023 sale runs March 28 to April 1 in Glendale, Arizona.