At the 1957 Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz introduced a convertible version of its celebrated 300 SL "Gullwing” Coupe. The new 300 SL Roadster was above all a more refined car than its older sibling, and its premiere foreshadowed the increasing focus the manufacturer would place on luxury cars over the ensuing decades. There was no denying the 300 SL's mechanical performance, which had decidedly improved in the Roadster; the updated six-cylinder engine received the competition camshaft used in the NSL racing coupes, good for a lift of 20 horsepower.
Handling also benefited from a revised rear suspension with a lower axle pivot-point, minimizing the tendency for oversteer. Despite the added weight of chassis reinforcement required by an open model, the roadster was every bit the performance car that the Gullwing had proven to be. The roadster's overwhelmingly luxurious character, however, generally obscured its performance capabilities. With a convertible soft top, the model eschewed the uncomfortably hot cabin that bedeviled the Gullwing, and the roadster's redesigned tube frame afforded lower door sills, facilitating a far more dignified ingress and egress than its winged predecessor.
The 300 SL Roadster was an improvement on the Gullwing in nearly every capacity and, with just 1,858 examples produced, has evolved into one of the marque’s most collectable models, a darling of both concours fields and vintage rallies.
According to a copy of its original data card, the 300 SL Roadster offered here, chassis number 7500115, left the factory finished in Erdbeerrot (DB 543), the exceptionally unusual, wonderful color of Strawberry Red Metallic. Available only during the roadster’s first production year of 1957, Erdbeerrot is believed to have been applied to no more than a few dozen Roadsters, making it one of the rarest of all the 300 SL factory colors. The consignor strongly believes this to be the 39th 300 SL Roadster produced and the first to wear the finish. Leder Hellgrau (955)—Light Gray Leather—with a matching Hellgrau convertible soft top completed this car’s sensational livery. Records further indicating it was equipped with instruments in miles, sealed-beam headlamps with separate parking lights, a Becker Mexico radio with Hirschman antennae, and a 3.89:1 rear axle ratio for superior acceleration.
Following its completion on 12 August 1957, chassis 7500115 is documented as having been sold to its first owner, William Stoff of New York. Per ownership history listed in the Gullwing Group, Stoff is reported to have enjoyed his Roadster sparingly before selling to George Parker of Greenwich, Connecticut in 1957. Parker and his family would go on to cherish their 300 SL for the better part of the next 50 years before selling it in 2004 to Timothy Mullins of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Mullins then entrusted the car to world renowned 300 SL specialist Rudi Koniczek of Rudi & Company in Victoria, British Columbia for what would become a three year, bare-metal, nut-and-bolt concours restoration. Scores of photographs document Rudi & Company’s painstaking process, including a full rebuild of all mechanical components, a new wiring harness, and bare metal respray in factory-correct Strawberry Red Metallic. A tan leather interior and convertible soft top were chosen in place of the factory light gray trim. Since the restoration’s completion in 2007, the car has seen only 1,134 miles of road use, now showing just 6,195 miles at cataloging.
Importantly, the car presently retains its original chassis, engine, body, front axles, and rear differential as confirmed by stampings/castings and a copy of its original data card. Completing its highly desirable presentation, chassis 7500115 is furnished with a full assortment of 300 SL Roadster accoutrements, including a set of fitted luggage, owner’s manual and service book in a vinyl pouch, factory brochures, Osram Autolampen kit, tool roll, jack, both sets of original keys, and correct four-bar tire-pressure gauge. This exceptional Roadster also features five original wheels date-coded to May 1957. In preparation for use in the 2023 Colorado Grand, the car was treated to a more than $11,000 service by R.W. Fabrications of Phoenix, Arizona, which included mounting a new set of Vredstein Sprint Classic tires.
Hailed as one of the greatest open sportscars of all time, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster stands as a testament to one of motoring’s most glamorous periods. Boasting wonderful performance, and reliable enough to be enjoyed daily, the 300 SL Roadster is an enthusiast favorite for vintage rallies, long-distance touring, or even regular use at one’s summer home. This stunning example stands apart with its concours-quality restoration and restoration and sensational, rare factory color.