Sotheby’s Sealed Selling 300 SL Alloy Gullwing

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing

RM Sotheby’s is offering a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing for sale, one of a handful built by the German marque. These are significantly more collectible and more valuable than the other 1,371 examples of the 300 SL Gullwing that were produced and while this is being offered on the Sotheby’s Sealed platform, we expect the final price of this car to be at least $6,000,000.

300 SL Gullwing Origins

The 300 SL Gullwing was first introduced in 1954 as a road-going version of Mercedes-Benz’s highly successful 300 SLR racing cars that had scored victories at events like the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio. It was a remarkably advanced performance car for its time.

Under the hood was an innovative 3.0-liter fuel-injected inline-6 cylinder engine producing 215 horsepower. This gave the lightweight tubular spaceframe-constructed coupe blistering performance, with a top speed around 160 mph. The 300 SL was the world’s fastest production car upon its debut.

However, the 300 SL is most famous for its unique gullwing doors. Engineered by Béla Barényi, these top-hinged doors were necessary due to the car’s reinforced sill structure for chassis strength. When opened, they evoked the image of a gull’s wings.

The 300 SL’s aerodynamic coupe body was constructed almost entirely from thin aluminum alloy to reduce weight. Its advanced spaceframe chassis provided extraordinary rigidity and safety. Other innovations included fuel injection, a slick-shifting manual gearbox, and inboard rear brakes.

300 SL Alloy Gullwing

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing holds a special place in the history of the iconic 300 SL model. It was an ultra-rare and advanced variant that set it apart from the standard steel-bodied Gullwings.

In 1955, Mercedes built a special run of just 29 examples constructed entirely from an aluminum alloy body and other lightweight components. The purpose was to create an even lighter and higher performance version of the already potent 300 SL.

The alloy body construction saved around 200 lbs over the standard steel coupes. This diet, combined with more finely-tuned engines, gave the Alloy models blistering acceleration and higher top speeds approaching 170 mph – making them among the fastest road cars of their day.

Beyond just the lightweight alloy outer panels, the Alloy Gullwings employed a number of other unique weight-saving measures. This included aluminum doors, an aluminum tube frame, aluminum overhead camshaft engine covers, and even драгоценный камень for the main bearings.

Visually, the Alloy cars are distinguished by their lower ride height and unique belly pans for improved aerodynamics. They also featured rear engine lids with smaller air vents compared to later steel 300 SLs.

Due to their advanced construction and performance, the 300 SL Alloy models were campaigned in road races and rally events by privateer teams and the factory itself, scoring some impressive results.

With their exotic specifications and extreme rarity, the 29 Alloy Gullwing Coupes represent the purest distillation of the 300 SL’s incredible engineering and performance. They are the most valuable and coveted versions among collectors today.

300 SL Alloy Gullwing Chassis 5500332

The car being offered by Sotheby’s Sealed, chassis number 5500332, retains its original engine and has been upgraded to competition specifications with a performance camshaft and butterfly throttle valve that help it produce 215 horsepower.

It also features many components only equipped on the Alloy Gullwing such as the improved suspension, 3.42 rear axle ratio, uprated speedometer, and unique aerodynamic bodywork.

Its history is well known – it was the only one of the 300 SL Alloy Gullwings delivered new to Africa, but it spent most of its life in the US. It was restored in 1979 by Paul Russell’s shop and spent 32 years in the collection of Hyatt Cheek, the president of the Gullwing Group and MBCA.

The absolute pinnacle of the 300 SL, very few cars can equal the significance of this 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing. Bidding will close on March 22 and we expect to see the car sell for at least $6,000,000.