The Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Nears the Ceiling
Imagination is the foundation of change, when the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing raised its doors in 1952 it captured the hearts of the world. Derived from a Carrera Panamericana and 24 Hours of Le Mans winning race chassis, the Gullwing soon found its way into driveways for a hefty price, which hasn’t quite hit a ceiling just yet. But will it?
The road car that followed its racing brother retained the tubular frame with high sills—facilitating the need for the gull-wing doors—and featured fully-independent suspension and a fuel-injected version of Mercedes-Benz’s 2,995cc, straight-six, single-overhead camshaft engine. The motor was rated at 215 HP and would rocket the car to speeds upwards of 160 MPH, making it one of the fastest production car in the world in its time.
The only transmission available was a four-speed manual and powerful drum brakes were fitted at each corner. Significant options included leather interior, a more highly-tuned engine, Rudge knock-off wheels and, fitted luggage. The most coveted of all the production Gullwings are the 29 aluminum coupes.
Most will see a 300SL Gullwing and marvel at its beauty, but a select few will have the privilege of personally enjoying one. Today’s major auction houses typically have one or even two examples of a gullwing crossing the block these days. From celebrity owned to private collections and even ground up restorations, there is bound to be a Gullwing to your liking. Their prices have nearly doubled in the past few years, earning it a “blue-chip” (a similar rating to that of blue-chip stock on the NYSE) rating from Hagerty.
With the modern reintroduction of the SLS Gullwing Coupe, many believed that the car would take a hit in value (see hagerty valuation chart August 2009). Fortunately for collectors, it did just the opposite. The car hit European showrooms mid 2010 and the car began to slowly work its way up (see August 2010).
Recently there have been several cars exchanging hands amongst private collectors. Some make the news and other do not. With the rising popularity of modern cult classics, including the Lamborghini Countach and McLaren F1 commanding record prices every year, we have to ask ourselves if the luster of the 300SL will wear off amongst the next generation? Will we see a slight dip in the next five to ten years? Its hard to predict the future but we can certainly bet on select supercars to cut in on the Gullwing’s profits. Two years ago, a near perfect, and rare, aluminum coupe sold for $4.6 million, while a just this past August a Mclaren F1 (chassis number 66) sold for $8.47 million. You be the judge.
Seeing as our friend Bob Sirna, from our latest video, Salt Fever, pushed the limits of his car even further than the factory thought possible, we’d estimate his as priceless.
Graph Source: hagerty.com
Photo Sources: (top left) photography by Darin Schnable ©2013 All photos courtesy of RM Auctions, (top right) photography by Jonny Shears for Petrolicious, (bottom left and right) autominded.net