This 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing was sent new to Mercedes-Benz New York on 13 July 1955 before being delivered that summer to Mr Gaylord, who lived in Chicago.
Just 38,000 miles from new
Rare optional Rudge wheels and NSL engine
Spectacular original condition
It had a particularly sporty specification with the addition of Rudge centre-lock wheels, an NSL engine and other special mechanical components. Eric Lemoine, the historian for the model confirmed the reasons why this order had such precise specifications:
In 1954, the two brothers James and Edward Gaylord from Chicago set up ” Gaylord Cars Limited ” with the intention of building the best sports car in the world, featuring the most exceptional design and specifications. With this in mind, they decided to order a Mercedes SL 300 coupé with all the options, including the famous overhead cam NSL engine that offered 20 bhp more than the standard 216bhp version, as well as centre-lock Rudge wheels.
Having proved highly successful in most major international races, the Mercedes 300 SL was a benchmark that Gaylord Cars aimed to surpass, by building a car that was more spectacular than the 300 SL. This rather mad project led to the production of three flamboyantly-designed coupé cars with retractable hard-tops. The project soon stalled due to the production costs and by 1956 ” Gaylord Cars Limited ” went into bankruptcy.
This Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing was then acquired by Mr Lawrence, also from Chicago. A collector, he didn’t register the car until 1972 and hardly ever drove it! It subsequently passed into the hands of Mr Hutcherson from Rockwood in Tennessee.
In 2004 when a European collector acquired it through Hervé Willem, this Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing had only covered just over 35 000 miles. The 300 SL was duly sent to Brussels to join the prestigious collection of M. Bavarey, a meticulous French enthusiast living in Belgium. Despite being in superb original condition, Baverey changed the original red colour Feueurwher rot (n°534) to graphite grey. The well-known Carrosserie Piémontaise in Brussels carried out this work. The original cellulose paint was so well preserved that the car required just a light sanding before being repainted beautifully. Baverey kept the car for four years, during which time he drove it very little. He sold it to a prominent Belgian collector who also only drove the car very sparingly for the next 14 years.
With its tubular chassis, six-cylinder engine with direct injection, dry sump, finned Alfin brakes, independent suspension and streamlined body, the Mercedes 300 SL was shaped by the racetrack. The best Mercedes engineers, bent over their drawing boards, discovered the wonderful ‘gullwing’ doors that gave the car its name. These were not only for show but were required by the structure of the chassis, which ran high on the sides to maximise its strength. What was a constraint became a feature allowing the 300SL to be a dominant force on the road, where it could exceed 230 km/h safely and cover 0 to 100km/h in under 9 seconds.
This coupé 300 SL is a rarity for several reasons. It comes with continuous history, a small number of owners, low mileage, optional Rudge wheels, the original bodywork and leather upholstery and the original NSL engine. Also included with the car are the original tools, jack and hammer and a beautifully crafted luggage set. The car is included in all three editions of ” 300 SL Register ” by Éric Lemoine, including page 221 of the 300 SL Register no.3, the “Final Edition”. Presented in splendid condition.