Extremely late 1957 production special order example accompanied by aftermarket Rudge wheels, factory luggage, belly pans, and copious documentation. Previously restored by Scott Grundfor, and retained by him as his personal car for nearly a decade.
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing remains one of the most important and iconic vehicles ever constructed. With cultural, artistic, and performance influence spanning six decades, the Gullwing continues to inspire enthusiasts all over the world. Originally released in 1954 with production culminating in 1957, 1,400 cars were produced and delivered to a wide range of clientele, eager to own one of the finest road-going sports cars ever assembled for public use. A triumph of engineering and design, the 300SL offered fuel-injection (the first of its kind) achieving the world's fastest top speed at that time. The 300 SL (S-Sport, L-Light) confirmed Max Hoffman’s challenge to Mercedes-Benz engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut – to build a Gran-Prix car tailored for road use. The 300 SL would span several years of racing achievements while simultaneously spawning a new age of ultra-performance cars, creating a legacy that inspires modern Mercedes-Benz design and excellence throughout their current premium offerings.
This particular 300SL Gullwing is one of the last built. Completed in 1957, this is one of just 70 cars produced in this final year, and the 18th car from the very last produced. Originally finished in white with red interior, it was purchased in Dusseldorf in April 1957 by John Pallon, then a US Army serviceman. Pallon had the car shipped to his home in Studio City, California where it remained under his ownership until selling to Harold Bailey, Inglewood, CA and then to Seth Hammond, Culver City, CA. In 1986, a client of Scott Grundfor, Naohiro Ishikawa, purchased the car and brought it to Scott Restorations for a comprehensive restoration. Ishikawa, a respected collector from Sapporo, Japan had previously restored several classic Mercedes-Benzes with Scott Restorations. Shortly after his purchase, this Gullwing was comprehensively restored for Ishikawa including full paint, interior, chrome, engine, suspension, all exterior and suspension rubber, new wiring harness, brakes, and injection pump. In 1990, Grundfor traded another car for this car, retaining it as one of his personal cars until 1998 when it was purchased by the current owner.
As part of the purchase, the current consigning owner asked Grundfor to restore the car to a “99 point” restoration, as outlined in a letter confirmed by Grundfor included with the supporting documents on file with this car. Paying an additional $40,000 for the restoration services, the car was repainted the current silver metallic, the interior fully reupholstered, chrome wheels added, and a modern air conditioning system installed. Details of the restoration also included new windshield molding, a new steering wheel turn signal assembly, emergency brake handle, improved chrome gauge bezels, new pop out window rubbers, misc. interior chrome plating, refinishing under the hood, trunk refinishing, hose clamps, and misc. hardware.
Over the past 25 years of current ownership, the owner has enjoyed the car in the states and exported it to Brazil where it has been driven internationally. In 2015, while in transit back to California, the rear of the car was damaged on the bumper and left rear quarter panel. Experts at Canepa Designs repaired the car to a very high standard tending to additional details at a cost of $37,000. Satisfied with the high quality of work performed at Canepa, the owner returned the car for extensive mechanical services totaling an additional $109,000 including removing and repairing the fuel tank, new fuel hoses, new fuel lines, disassembly and cleaning the fuel pump, rebuild for cold start enrichment, fuel injection adjustments, engine cleaning and detailing, new filters and fluids, points, condenser, removal and refinishing for the radiator, new hoses, a new Borla stainless-steel exhaust system (painted satin black), new hangers, and new heat shields. Work performed on the engine, transmission, clutch, interior, various trim, and detailed features are documented in nine two-inch notebooks spanning seven years of continued regular services performed at Canepa Designs with detailed photos and reference notes outlining all services.
In December 2022 a new set of tires and tubes were installed, a new generator and voltage regulator installed, and a new windshield fitted at Burlingame Motors, Burlingame, CA. In preparation for sale, A&C Auto Air & Radiator, Inc., San Rafael, CA purged and recharged the AC system which blows cold conditioned air throughout the cabin, with Burlingame Motors further sorting the car in September 2023.
Today this rare and beautiful Gullwing offers an impressive presence with excellent cosmetics and superb mechanical continuity. The silver metallic paint is uniformly fluid and remains glossy and smooth with attractive presentation throughout. The doors, hood, and trunk gaps are excellent having all benefited from the extensive 99-point restoration performed in 1998 and further enhanced by Canepa Designs from 2015-2021. The hood and trunk open and shut smoothly and the iconic doors easily open, sustaining upright position without sagging. In addition to the doors exhibiting excellent closure, the fit is consistent at both the roof and lower portion of the door parting lines where panel alignment often becomes compromised over time. The trim, chrome, and lenses are all in excellent condition. The wheels are correctly dated for this series car and a spare set of remanufactured Rudge wheels are included.
The interior of the car has a very nice look and feel with excellent harmony to the surfaces which have only slightly mellowed over time. High quality workmanship and excellent finish details are evident in the seating surfaces, stitching, and tufting, while a beautifully fitted leather topped dash conveys a finishing touch to the leather interior. The stunning red color is consistent and smooth. Contrasting headliner and fitted carpet creates an elegant and composed feel to the cockpit, particularly accented by the delightful bits of chrome, and a full array of detailed instrumentation. The dashboard is beautiful, with exceptionally nice gauges, all functioning as expected. The miles per hour speedometer dial has been covered with a kilometer face, which was required for driving while in Brazil. The odometer mechanism has not been altered and still records in miles. All ivory-color interior parts remain very nice showing only minor evidence of use. The beautifully crafted luggage appears to be original with finishes that have sympathetically aged to a warm inviting patina. The overall visual impact of the interior is quite impressive, exhibiting consistently uniform finishes in harmony with the exterior - just the sort of combination one might expect from a well-restored car that has been enjoyed, though fastidiously refined both mechanically and cosmetically to a high level.
Under the hood, the engine and engine compartment present beautifully with correct finishes, proper fittings, attention to detail including correct labels and fasteners, and more recent freshening to many finishes and engine decals. All systems operate properly including the air conditioning system which has been recently recharged and blows cold, a highly desirable feature in a Gullwing for anyone who wishes to drive this car in moderate temperatures or in lengthy motoring events.
As one might expect from a car that has been sorted and well-maintained, mechanical performance is consistent with the cosmetic condition. It would not be a stretch to state that the operational features are among the best we have seen in a Gullwing. The car starts readily and settles into a crisp lightly toned idle burbling though the desirable stainless-steel exhaust. Shifting is smooth and confident with excellent feel to the gearbox particularly when warm. Suspension is very nice on the highway and quite responsive on corners considering the era of this design. Braking and downshifting are quite effective with a helpful boost in stopping power supplied by braking assist.
Although the car has been driven and enjoyed, the owner has not scrimped on detailing the chassis and underside components as these areas remain in very good condition overall with just minor evidence of use shown in the correctly finished components. The integrity of the restoration given to the upper surfaces is reflected diligently in the underside including the complete set of rare belly pans, often lost or misplaced simply due to the passage of time. All suspension and engine components have been restored to a high standard using correct finishes and fasteners consistent with the era. The chassis integrity supports the known history from new with decades of California ownership spanning the majority of the life of this fine Gullwing.
This Gullwing comes with a set of fitted luggage (likely original to this car), a pivot type steering wheel, a set of four reproduction Rudge wheels and a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Owner’s Manual, Also included with the sale are nine large three-ring binders documenting the restoration and mechanical services performed while under the past 25 years of current ownership, as well as copies of handwritten correspondences from Scott Grundfor documenting the car, the terms of purchase, and the history of this Gullwing.
One of the most advanced sports cars available when new, the 300SL Gullwing was brimming with innovative features, many of which remain today as hallmarks of superlative automotive engineering. Sporty, elegant, and exclusive, just 70 examples were built in 1957, the final year of production. Ongoing appreciation from astute enthusiasts has continued to grow due to the timeless beauty, exceptional build quality, and rarity of the incomparable Gullwing. Whether a defining centerpiece to a world class collection, or a singular example of excellence for a vintage enthusiast, this 300 SL Gullwing will prominently convey all the majesty of this premier brand as a sporting testimonial to the Mercedes-Benz legacy. Ready for enjoyable driving, events, or fun excursions, just as originally intended, the care and mechanical attention dedicated to this 300SL Gullwing will always retain its vaulted status as one of the most desirable sports cars of the 20th century.