Few cars invite as much eyeballing as a Mercedes-Benz 300SL. Just look at it! You don’t even have to be hung up on vintage cars to be enchanted by the Benz’s upraised doors, the sensation of speed from its various swoops and scoops, and its quaint spinners. The Gullwing represents a point in time where the most hardcore race cars could be mildly detuned and set loose on the street. The Gullwing’s not just inspired by a race car, it’s got racing welded into its thin tubular bones.
And as we’ve learned a few times over the years, the era in which race and street cars were nearly interchangeable (or at least, highly related) also means that there’s an inherent versatility and usability to these old machines that nothing in any automaker’s modern lineup can possibly achieve. Peer inside and there’s a gingham-like plaid on the seats with a suitcase on the parcel shelf! A vivid illustration of another era, or more like an alternate dimension.
A pleasant dimension, no less. These old 300SLs are reliable, robust, and comfortable to drive. Our own Aaron Gold caned one for a week a few years back, and the Gullwing didn’t miss a beat. Its handling is one of the few things that betrays its age, with manual steering and a rear swing-axle arrangement that requires some real wrestling behind its baroque, delicate steering wheel. That wheel, by the way, famously folds down so you can actually get into the driver’s seat while clambering over the car’s massive sill.
The big 220-horsepower inline-six also features mechanical fuel injection, which requires some special care. Fuel tends to find its way into the oil thanks to an unusual fuel pump arrangement, so the big 2.6-gallon dry-sump system needs to frequent changing. As you can imagine, getting 2.6 gallons of oil up to temp takes a while, too. Make sure to sufficiently warm up a 300SL before romping on it. But who wouldn’t want to change a 300SL’s oil every 1,000 miles? Any excuse to spend more time in the garage with this lovely thing.
This particular 300SL isn’t original, having been fully restored—thankfully, too, given the included photos of how its prior, tired condition. The original gray was resprayed and looks killer. The original gray leather cushions are included, too, as are a set of more colorful, and awfully fun plaid cushions. The Rudge knockoffs are an addition, but a welcome one, as is the reproduction luggage. We’ll leave it to the specialist assessors to gauge how exact the final product is, or its specific value, but to our eyes, it’s painfully beautiful. Go on and gawk at these photos. We know we have.
If you have deeper pockets than we do, you can even bid on this machine. This one’s up for auction on Bring a Trailer and the current bid is north of $1.3 million at the time of this writing. But surely you knew coming into this article that this old Gullwing wouldn’t be cheap. The real question, for all of us who can’t afford it, is how high will this ultimately sell for?
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