The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster heralded a new era for German engineering, as the first road car to be developed with a space-frame chassis and a fuel-injected engine. Yet despite the Roadster’s engineering expertise, the spectacular bodywork, defined by svelte and sumptuous lines, elevated the car to new and extraordinary heights of desirability.
Ahead of its time, the 300SL was conceived by American Mercedes-Benz importer Max Hoffman, who believed a road-worthy W194 racer would posses the power and styling to appeal to the American market. Debuted at the New York Auto Show in 1954, alongside its enigmatic gullwing doors, the 300SL remained in production until 1957 where it was replaced by the illusive 300 SL Roadster.
The Roadster offered a host of improvements over its gull-winged predecessor. In an effort to improve the speed and agility of the 300 SL, Mercedes lowered the central section of the car’s space-frame, crafted smaller sills and fitted larger, conventional doors. The original strength of the 300 SL remained, yet the improved suspension created a more comfortable and enthralling ride. Boasting a top-speed of 137 mph – the 300 SL Roadster was the ultimate automotive statement – an elegant blend of speed and style.
This exquisite 300 SL Roadster rolls up to auction via RM Sotheby’s anticipated Arizona auction series between the 28th-29th January 2016. Undergoing extensive mechanical work by Richardson Restoration and Machine Werks in 2013, the 300 SL was updated with a new gasket valve, exhaust guides and cam bearings. While, more recently, the car was modernised with a subtle Anthracite paintwork with a complimenting grey interior; an extremely rare and desirable colour combination for a 300 SL.
The Roadster is a beautiful and refined example of stunning Mercedes-Benz engineering and design, even by today’s standards.