The Don Davis Collection

27 April 2013

Lot 114

1961 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

Sold for $935,000

  • Chassis no. 198.042.10.002839
  • Engine no. 198.980.10.002896
  • Body no. 198.042.10.00101


215 bhp (DIN), 240 bhp (SAE), 2,996 cc overhead-cam inline six-cylinder engine, Bosch mechanical fuel-injection, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with upper and lower A-arms and coil springs, independent rear suspension with coil springs and swing axles, and hydraulic front disc, rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.

  • A highly desirable disc brake example
  • Upgraded with European “bubble” headlamps
  • Removable hardtop


With the original Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing” Coupe exiting stage left in 1957, its successor, the 300SL Roadster, debuted at that year’s Geneva Salon. The conversion of the 300SL to an open car meant dispensing with the famed upward-opening door and redesigning the chassis, which was strengthened significantly to compensate for the loss of the roof structure. Headlamps were changed, the grille was smaller, and a chrome molding was added below the doors. The famed racing-derived twin-cam six-cylinder engine produced some 215 brake horsepower, and the revised rear suspension now boasted a compensating spring, added to reduce the oversteering tendencies of the Gullwing’s single-jointed swing-axle arrangement.

Enthusiasts who may have worried about the 300SL going “soft” had absolutely nothing to concern themselves about. The Roadster remained among the fastest automobiles on the road, capable of 133–155 mph, depending upon the final drive ratio specified. Production continued into early-1963, and with 1,858 built, the Roadster proved even more popular than its “Gullwing” predecessor, while still remaining exclusive enough to be rarely seen. Like the earlier coupe, it was, in its day, the car in which to see and be seen, and it was favored by celebrities, racing drivers, and just anyone who appreciated fine machinery and had the bank account to acquire it.

Today, the 300SL Roadster still carries with it an indelible aura of speed, power, and sophisticated style. Fast enough for the sports car lover and comfortable enough for those who demand to luxuriate, it has remained for nearly 60 years as one of the most desirable automobiles in the world.

The 1961 model offered here is the later example of the “bookend” pair of 300SL Roadsters that Don Davis has acquired for his distinguished collection. Built in March 1961, it was built to United States specification, but it was later updated to the appearance of a European-delivery example with the desirable one-piece “bubble” headlamps, and it was restored in black with grey leather seats and a black cloth top. Desirably, it was also originally supplied with a hardtop, which has remained with the car, and it is finished in body color with a correct white-vented headliner, a much sought-after accessory for these cars. The trunk is in excellent condition, with correct dark grey carpeting, jack, and hidden spare wheel. Under the hood and underneath is well-presented, with evidence of careful use but not of wear, which only adds to the charming presentation of the car. However, most impressively, the example is a rare disc brake car and offers the added stopping power sought-after in the open sports car variant. The Mercedes presently records just over 50,000 kilometers, and it presents as a 300SL that has been driven and enjoyed as the factory intended, while also being lovingly maintained.

RM Auctions is told that the present air conditioning unit was fitted by a specialist from California; the unit reportedly works well, and the quality of workmanship is such that it could have been done by the factory itself. With the hardtop fitted, this upgrade makes this an ideal year-round touring and rallying car. It rides on black steel wheels with Mercedes-Benz hubcaps and polished trim rings, shod in Michelin XVS radials.

This is a 300SL that can be taken out, run, and enjoyed—and in a car with this much racing-bred performance, beautiful engineering, and stopping power behind it, why not?

Please be advised that this car has correct four-wheel disc brakes.

Addendum

Please be advised that this car has correct four-wheel disc brakes.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

aclassick@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

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+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

aabaci@rmauctions.com

+49 (0) 40 441 95 737
Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

dwarrener@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmauctions.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmauctions.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

jboxstrom@rmauctions.com

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

mgirardo@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

rmyers@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

vmandzak@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more