1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing
Chassis # 198.040.55.00XXX
One-off & Concours condition
One-off this Gullwing benefited in 1973 from a rare and ultra-desirable new factory aluminum engine manufactured in 1965 as well as a new cylinder head (1968) and a new gearbox (1970). It only covered 95,500 km since 1973.
Concours This Gullwing has been fully and exhaustively restored from
condition May 2014 to October 2018.
- Full and detailed history known, with 6 owners from 1955
- 1973 full factory replacements: new aluminum engine block (manufactured in 1965), new cylinder head (manufactured in 1968) and new gearbox (manufactured 1970).
- Full and ‘fastidious’ nuts and bolts restoration (circa 4.000 hours) driven by Cochera Clásicos, the internationally recognized Spanish Mercedes-Benz specialist, finished in October 2018
- Superb color combination DB 190 Graphite Grey with Tan leather and Karl Baisch Luggage yellow with tan borders.
- Reversible front disc brakes (the 4 original drums brakes have been preserved) and electronic ignition (the original has also been preserved)
- Specific and reversible fuel supply circuit to make the car highly reliable whatever the outside temperature, giving the possibility to attend any rally in any condition
- Leather covers tailored made to accommodate the door glasses when dismantled
- Nardi Steering Wheel (the original has been preserved)
- Leather covered metal support made to accommodate a Twin Master Halda for regularity rallies as well as 2 vintage mechanical chronometers type Heuer
- Set of tools, Daimler Data Card, Original Instruction Manual, Catalog C, Production Program, Type 300 SL sales brochure, Type 300 SL workshop manual copy, Gullwing Group technical tips binder, book of the 2004 Mille Miglia Storica with pictures of the car
- Participation to many regularity rallies including the Mille Miglia in 2004 and the 2015 Spain FIA Rally (class winner)
- FIVA Card and previous registrations copies in UK and Germany provided
- Restoration file with circa 1.800 pictures and videos as well as all invoices from the restoration process
- French current registration.
A Unique and Unusual Car History
The car was supplied new on the 22nd of September 1955 (delivery note n° 66599), to Mercedes-Benz Distributors USA of New York City, NY. The original color was red (DB 534 G) with black leather interior (DB 953). The car was then sold to the first owner, Mr. Heckler of Springfield, Ohio, who kept the car in his possession until 1972.
On the 8th of March 1972, the car was sold for $ 3.000 US to Mr. E. von Fragstein of Dayton, Ohio, who made in a few months re-import the car in Germany via his brother, Mr. N. von Fragstein of Mülheim in Germany, on the 18th of August 1973, to sell it for slightly over 20.000 DM to
Mr. Berthold Rückwarth, of Bielefeld in Germany, its 2nd owner.
When Mr. Berthold Rückwarth acquired the car, it was still held in its original livery, but he made the decision to make it repaint in the standard 300 SL color, metallic silver grey (DB 180).
Probably the unique Gullwing in the world with a new factory aluminum engine manufactured in 1965, two years after the end of the production of the 300SL.
The engine aluminum blocks were 44 kg lighter – Rudolph Uhlenhaut made implement this recommendation for competition use in 1952 – and thus the last 210 “300 SL Roadsters” received such an engine, between 1962 and 1963. The last 300 SL Roadster was manufactured on the 8th February of 1963.
On the 5th of November 1973, the original engine (number 198.980.55.00XXX) was scrapped and replaced by a new factory aluminum engine.
Very important: the new block was delivered with no plates and no stamps in the usual engine places !
- The new aluminum engine block, manufactured on the 22nd of September 1965, was just stamped with the correct engine 198.982 number and fitted with a specific plate: “Original Mercedes-Benz Tauschaggregat, Teil-Nr. 198 010 XXXX | 80, Aggregat Nr. XXXXXX”.
- The cylinder head was also replaced: it was manufactured on the 10th of April 1968.
- In turn, the gearbox was replaced as well : it was manufactured on the 21st of May 1970. It received a specific plate: “Original Mercedes-Benz Tauschaggregat, Teil-Nr. 198 260 XXXX | 80, Aggregat Nr. XXXXX”.
This rare factory replacement was done by the Daimler subsidiary in Bielefeld, formerly (until April 1973) Kirstein & Sauer GmbH, Herforder Str. 273, 4800 Bielefeld. This Daimler subsidiary was taken over in 2015 by Beresa OWL GmbH & Co. KG, Am Stadtholz 35, 33609 Bielefeld, as the Daimler Classic Center in Fellbach informed us.
This engine was certainly one of the last available at the factory and certainly one of the rare
new aluminum engines – not a reconditioned engine among the 210 manufactured between 1962 and 1963.
It is currently known the normal rule was such that the plant had only a few engine units manufactured in advance – sic Daimler Classic Center in Paris.
Not only this engine is much newer – the restoration showed the crankshaft was absolutely not used – and really less heavy, around 44 kg, but it is more powerful (with 240 HP @ 6.000 rpm, as the last engines had the NSL or Sports camshaft as standard, as well as numerous improvements).
After these replacements, the odometer was reset and Mr. Berthold Rückwarth covered a mere 10,000 km in 31 years.
In spring of 2004, Mr. Axel Schütte of Oerlinghausen in Germany prepared the car and became the 3rd owner. He made the decision to make it fully mechanically overhauled because the car was going to participate in this year’s edition of the “Mille Miglia Storica”: the pilot was Mr. Volker Staüch, formerly Managing Director of Daimler Fellbach mill, and the co-pilot was a well-known German industrialist, M. August Oetker. The car absorbed the 1.600 km road-race without any problems.
On the 21st of March of 2007, the car was registered by Mr. Jörg Pilawa from Hamburg, a well-known German TV star, and later, on the 16th of February of 2010, it was registered in the United Kingdom by a French collector, Mr. Gérard Molins.
Finally, the current owner, a Franco-Spanish collector, bought the car on the 21st of May of 2013 with 76,884 km recorded on the odometer. He is thus the 6th owner and has driven the car for approximately 18.000 km before he commissioned in 2014 a mechanical and electrical restoration and in 2016 a full frame-off restoration to reach a Concours condition.
Car Restoration Process
This full frame-off refurbishment was entrusted to Cochera Clásicos, the well-known Spanish Mercedes-Benz classics specialist in Madrid, Spain, who is used to working for Germany specialist dealers and private owners.
The car was completely dismantled and cataloged with photos (more than 1.600), while the body was placed on a rotisserie for manual body sanding and minor shaping corrections that were followed by a deep refinish in graphite grey paint (DB 190). The frame was taken down to bare metal and properly epoxy-coated, and the suspension, brakes, and electrical systems were all rebuilt as needed. HK-Engineering provided a correct, reversible and complete front disc brakes kit. The engine and transmission were removed, disassembled, and rebuilt, and many parts were sourced from Daimler AG, HK-Engineering and Kienle in Germany.
The interior was reupholstered in proper tan leather for an outstanding color contrast, while a new two-piece luggage set was sourced in either in yellow and in the matching interior color.
The list below gives a few details of this restoration process:
- All the chrome parts have been chrome-plated with a process of full chromium-plating in Portugal. Rubber seals have been changed.
- All mechanic parts have been removed, disassembled and rebuilt: engine, gearbox, transmission, suspension, brakes, etc. The engine has been fully tested on a test bench. Several parts were exchanged as the oil cooler, the starter, the valves, the drive gear of the bridge, some bearings, the gaskets (including gaskets front and rear of the crankshaft), some hoses… The belly pans were completely preserved and restored.
- A reversible electronic ignition (the components of the original ignition have been repaired and preserved) was installed as well as an intermediate pump under the threshold of the left door to make reliable the fuel supply circuit. The original mechanical fuel pump has been short-circuited (reversible), and the auxiliary electric pump has been replaced. The whole ducts have been repaired and the status of the pump injection has been fully checked. The tank (interior in perfect condition, presumably fully refurbished in 2004) has been cleaned, and the fuel gauge has been replaced and adjusted, etc.
- The suspension has been completely revised. The 4 drum brakes were repaired and adjusted. The brake booster has been changed. Disc brakes were then installed at the front (original drum brakes have been carefully preserved), based on a complete kit provided by HK-Engineering.
- All the electrical harness has been replaced, changing parts like the regulator of tension, the central of flashing lights, etc. The wiper motor has been repaired. All the instruments have been repaired and/or replaced.
- The bumpers are available, but the actual owner preferred the car to look more aggressive without them.
- There have been late reversible upgrades (all original parts have been preserved):
- Front disc brakes
- Electronic ignition
- Nardi steering wheel with center matching suitcases as well as the original steering wheel
- Set of tan belts type aviation
- Set of suitcases Karl Baisch (with the original adapted rearview mirror)
- Additional yellow headlights long-range added with a command on the dashboard (in place of the old ignition control)
- Bumpers removed and support custom manufactured for the license plate and long-range lights, giving the car a sportier character
- Leather covers tailored made to accommodate the door glasses when dismantled
- Carpet under the spare wheel and leather cover made to protect the spare wheel
- Fire extinguisher installed to the right of the spare wheel
- Leather covered metal support made to accommodate a Twin Master Halda for regularity rallies as well as 2 vintage mechanical chronometers Heuer.
The car comes with a set of tools, its Daimler Data Card, the original Instruction Manual, the Catalog C, the Production Program, a Type 300 SL sales brochure, a Type 300 SL workshop manual copy, a GullwWing Group technical tips binder, the book of the 2004 Mille Miglia Storica with pictures of the car, its FIVA Card, etc.
Car Key and Recent Documented Events
- 2004 Mille Miglia (Italy)
- 2013 Flying Stars exhibition, MB Paris Champs Elysées show-room (France)
- 2014 Urban Tour Baden Württemberg, in Madrid (Spain)
- 2014 1er Concours Arts et Elégance Richard Mille, in Chantilly (France)
- 2015 Class Winner at Spain Rally (FIA race)
- 2015 Class Winner at Concours d’Elegance Autobello, in Madrid (Spain)
- 2015 Ennstal Classic rally, in Gröbming region (Austria)
- 2016 Classic Auto, in Madrid (Spain)
- 2016 ING Ardenne Roads rally, in Spa region (Belgium)
- 2016 1st Concours d’Elegance Suisse, in Coppet (Switzerland)
- Chassis: 198.040.55.00XXX
- Body Number: 198.040.55.00XXX
- Engine, “Original Mercedes-Benz Tauschaggregat, Teil-Nr. 198 010 XXXX | 80, Aggregat Nr. XXXXXX”, manufactured on the 22nd of September 1965. The first engine (number: 198.980.55.00XXX) was scrapped in 1973.
- Gearbox, “Original Mercedes-Benz Tauschaggregat, Teil-Nr. 198 260 XXXX | 80, Aggregat Nr. XXXXXX”, manufactured on the 21st of May 1970, was replaced as well.
- Body color: graphite grey DB 190 (original: fire red DB 534, later in 2004 DB 180).
- Upholstery: tan leather, with yellow and tan suitcases (original: black leather DB 953).
- Delivery date: 22nd of September of 1955.
- French (current) registration, previous been British, German and USA.
- The Fellbach Classic Center Product Archives Manager helped gather information about the car.
Here are some of the options at the time of delivery, described in the Data Card: high-gloss paintwork, instruments with English inscriptions, sealed-beam headlights, bumpers equipped with horns, right door with door-lock and windscreen washing system.
A pre-wiring for the radio has been installed as well as original speakers.
- Late Rudge wheels were fitted, circa 2007.
Thierry GARCÍA GUILLOREL, Founding Partner of THGG & Co. THGG & Co covers the USA, Europe, and Australia, with local agents, thus addressing classic car restoration with professionalism along each of the value-added chain stages.
For six years now, we have been collecting exclusive, enticing, desirable rare cars across the globe. We have been taking care of them through a special effort process with a partial or a full and valuable restoration practice. This has helped us to assemble an evolutive portfolio of absolute Classic Cars as well as to build Our Classic Car Legacy. We have the passion, and of course, we have been enjoying our cars fully.
 At the end of the 60s and beginning of the 70s, a few 300 SL – some Gullwings as well as some Roadsters – benefited from new main components which were still available. As examples:
- Chassis #198.042.10.002781: Mercedes-Benz Grunning & Sohn KG installed, on the 4th of May of 1984, a new 300 SL aluminum engine supplied by the factory in standard exchange, without a doubt one of the very last available.
- Chassis #198.042.10.003116: it received a factory replacement engine, but the dealer decided to fit it with the original engine number plate (#198.982.10.000070), though the block itself remained unstamped.
 The details of this participation are reported in the book of the 2004 Mille Miglia Storica.