Collectors of classic cars have been known to sell for big bucks on the auction block, but no one has ever paid as much for a vehicle as one anonymous collector did Jan. 20 in Scottsdale, Ariz. The winner of the Gooding & Co. auction for a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing agreed to pay a record $4.6 million for the alloy-bodied luxury coupe of ages past.
Gullwing flies on the wings of cash
Never a cheap vehicle, Mercedes-Benz Gullwings like the 300 SL were worth several hundred thousand dollars. Cost of ownership is rather pricey too, notes MSN Autos. Brakes on a non-competition version of the 300 SL cost $14,000 for parts alone. Hence, as MSN puts it, “you don’t swim in this pool unless you like deep water.”
The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing has an impressive pedigree, as it was built during a unique time in the history of motor sports. Only 1,400 300 SL coupes were constructed between 1954 and 1963. As such, the vehicle is among the most desired road machines in existence, much like the Shelby Cobra. The 1955 model that sold was rarer still, as most Gullwings had a steel body. The auction model’s body is made of aluminum alloy.
Taking $4.6 million for a spin
Unlike the Cobra and other vintage vehicles that are generally no more than museum pieces, the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing coupe is a car that can be driven. Even though the “vague steering” and “overly sloppy suspension” are indicative of 1950s automotive engineering, the thrill of gearing up to a top speed of 161 mph in the 300 SL is more than a gentle reminder that for its day, the Gullwing was the fastest production car on Earth, says MSN Autos.
Costly modern chic
Perhaps what is most unique about the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing is its modernity. All the more reason to take it for a drive – if you can afford it.
“The 300 SL’s shape and pedigree helped make it a legend, but the car’s talents made it stand out,” reports MSN. “Car collectors are no different from you and me; most of them want cars they can use, not just look at. I’d put my grandmother into a 300 SL and send her off to the grocery store. It is, for all intents and purposes, a modern car.”
Listen to the 300 SL Gullwing run
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