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Automobile of the Week: This Gorgeous 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster May Fetch as much as $1.8 Million

Automobile of the Week: This Gorgeous 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster May Fetch as much as $1.8 Million


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Of the hundreds of makes and thousands of models of collector cars for sale at any given time, just a handful are perineal favorites and have been, seemingly, from the time they were new cars. While their market values range from marginally affordable to “if you have to ask the price . . .,” what makes them desirable is a rare combination of attributes. Each is an iconic design, a great performer that’s a thrill to drive, and reliable. And, importantly, production was sufficient to assure that there will always be enough examples (if barely) to satisfy the demands of a worldwide market.

Which are those cars? While surely there are others one could add to the list, the Porsche 911 family, numerous Ferraris, Corvette C2 coupes and roadsters, and just about any Shelby immediately come to mind. But one car has been on the VIP list since the beginning, and in fact, is the bellwether for the health of the collector-car market as a whole. Whither goes the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, goes the market. 

Mercedes-Benz’s captivating 300 SL checks all the boxes for desirability, and, like Baby Bear’s porridge, is “just right.” The 300 SL comprises the “Gullwing” Coupé (1954 through 1957) and the Roadster (1957 through 1963), and for a model whose oldest example is 70 years of age, it drives like a modern car. A fair number were made of each (1,400 and 1,858, respectively) so replacement parts and experts to maintain them remain available, supporting demand. Both are horrifically expensive to restore, and hence, the description “achingly” beautiful takes on special meaning.

The 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster being offered through Worldwide Auctioneers on January 26.

Worldwide Auctioneers

An especially fine example of the 300 SL Roadster will be offered by Worldwide Auctioneers at its annual Scottsdale sale at Singh Meadows (in nearby Tempe, Ariz.) on January 26. The car is notable for a number of reasons, most evidently its color combination of factory DB40 Black over a factory 1088 Red leather interior, perhaps the most striking and coveted specification for any 300 SL. It’s one of just 250 produced for the 1961 model year, and incorporates the desirable “big drum” brakes that offer improved stopping power. Important for any collector car, and especially one as valuable as the 300 SL, this specific vehicle retains its original engine, gearbox, and rear end.

The interior of a 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster.

The interior is presented in factory-red leather.

Worldwide Auctioneers

The vehicle was delivered new by Keenan Motors in Philadelphia, Pa., and sold in 1972 to its second owner, David Coggins of Madison, Conn. Coggins kept it for 35 years, selling it in 2007 to Andre Vant Westeinde of Dallas, Tex. Pebble Beach Concours chief judge Peter Hageman was a subsequent owner, and he commissioned a comprehensive restoration, including a meticulous rebuild of the M198 3.0-liter inline-six engine.

The 3.0-liter inline-six engine inside a 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster.

The car’s 3.0-liter inline-six engine has been rebuilt.

Worldwide Auctioneers

Developing about 240 hp, and with a factory-claimed top speed of 137 mph, the 300 SL is—like some old rock-and-roll stars—an impressive, 67-year-old performer even today. Collectors with the resources to acquire a top-tier classic, one that can be reliably driven and enjoyed for years while maintaining its prime position in the collector-car ecosphere, simply cannot do better than a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster.

A 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster.

This is one of just 250 examples of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster made for the 1961 model year.

Worldwide Auctioneers

See Also

Being sold with no reserve, this car is accompanied by extensive documentation that includes its original window sticker, the dealer invoice for $11,921.80, a copy of the Mercedes-Benz data card, previous titles and registrations, and its restoration invoices. Worldwide Auctioneers would not give an estimate, but examples of the model are typically in the range of $1.3 million to $1.8 million.

Click here for more photos of this 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster.

A 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster.

The 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster being offered through Worldwide Auctioneers.

Worldwide Auctioneers

Source: Robb Report

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