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Selling on Friday

1961 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

  • Late model 'big brake' example equipped from the factory
  • 1 of only 250 produced for the model year
  • Numbers-matching engine, gearbox, and rear end
  • Highly desirable factory DB40 Black over factory 1088 Red interior
  • Provenance includes 35 years of single enthusiast ownership
  • Extensively documented by original window sticker, dealer invoice, copy of its MB Data Card, previous titles and registrations, and restoration invoices

VIN: 19804210002748

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Some 65 years after debuting at Geneva in March 1957, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster continues to rank among the finest and most influential sports cars ever produced. Timeless in appearance and capable of truly electrifying race-bred performance, even by today's jaded standards, the 300SL Roadster's technical sophistication, including its SOHC, fuel-injected 3.0-litre engine, and improved fully independent suspension, remains the standard by which the world's finest automobiles are judged. Of course, with its smooth bodylines and avant-garde flair, the 300SL conveyed an image of adventure, speed, and victory - even at rest. Largely based on the W198 300SL "Gullwing," itself derived from the mighty W194 racing cars of the earlier 1950s, the 300SL Roadster was internally designated 'W198 II' and ushered in a myriad of internal updates while maintaining the sleek basic design cues and performance of its predecessor. As with the prior 300SL "Gullwing," development and production of the 300SL Roadster was advocated - forcefully - by New York-based Mercedes-Benz importer, Max Hoffman. As buyers expected, the 300SL Roadster was an outstanding performer with strong acceleration and a factory-claimed 137-mph top speed, often higher depending upon the final-drive ratio selected. Coveted from new by the top luminaries in the business, entertainment, political, and social spheres, the 300SL Roadster continues to weave its magic today as an icon that no proper collection should be without.

Just 1,858 300SL Roadsters were built in all during a brief production period from 1957 through 1963. They are still today often regarded as one of the greatest ,and perhaps most timeless, designs of the era. 1 of just 250 units to be produced in 1961, this numbers-matching late-production 300SL Roadster was originally sold new at Keenan Motors Inc. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has lived a pampered and well-documented life since. The original owner made the wise decision to order this example in one of the most desirable color combinations one could get, factory DB40 Black over a striking factory 1088 Red leather interior. He also checked the box for additional options that included a rare factory optional Becker radio, automatic antenna, W/SW tires, and chrome wheels, which are all documented by the original window sticker and dealer invoice.

The second owner, David Coggins of Madison, Connecticut would welcome this example into his stable in 1972 and lovingly care for and maintain it for some 35 years. He would then sell the car in 2007 to Andre Vant Westeinde of Dallas, Texas. For a short time it was in the hands of Jerry Bensinger before it was acquired by Peter Hageman, well-known collector and highly respected Pebble Beach Concours Chief Judge. With an astute eye for detail, having dealt with and owned many exceptional vintage cars over the years, he would commission classic car restorers Fenders and Fins Inc. in Woodenville, Washington to do a bare metal professional respray of the factory black exterior and, as you can see, the job was exceptional to say the least. Once the exterior was completed the installation of a new and correct red leather interior was done by well-known 300SL expert John Compton in Oregon. The result was spectacular and remains excellent today. Last but not least, the engine would be completely disassembled, rebuilt and reassembled by none other than Mercedes expert Sigfried Linke of Mount Vernon, Washington, who is also a Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance Judge and CCCA Master Judge. Invoices for the engine work alone exceeded some $52,000. The culmination of all the work would result in a mechanically excellent 300SL with a concours level appearance inside and out. Worldwide Auctioneers would later in 2015 broker the sale of the car for Hageman to its next owner, a well-known East Coast collector. Under his stewardship, the car has received no-expense-spared care and maintenence, always keeping the car in top notch condition as evidenced by its current show quality presentation.

The numbers-matching M198 3.0-litre straight-six-cylinder engine per its accompanying MB Data Card, is brilliantly presented and detailed. Retaining its numbers-matching gearbox and rear end as well, the mechanical components work in harmony as this rare 300SL Roadster effortlessly glides down the road, whether on an exclusive tour or to and from an important concours. Being a late model example, it's desirably equipped from the factory with the big drum brakes, which adds to its already superior driving abilities. Considered among the rarest of the 300SL braking systems, many 300SL mechanics and aficionados will attest to the big drums being the most effective braking system the model has to offer.

Accompanying this Roadster is its original window sticker, dealer invoice, a copy of its MB Data Card, restoration invoices, previous titles, registrations, a spare tire, and a jack. A beacon of elegance and precision combined in a stylish package that continues to be used as a benchmark to this day, the 300SL Roadster is extremely collectible because of its low production but loved because of its fantastic attributes and drivability. It has the rare gift of being beautiful from every angle, an attribute that very few cars around the world have in common. Thoroughly documented since new and presented in its original factory livery, this sought-after 'big-brake' 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster will be an outstanding addition to concours and tours around the globe as it is truly a world-class automobile.

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