In the mid-fifties of the last century, Mercedes-Benz was enjoying glorious times in racing. Juan Manuel Fangio has won two Formula One titles with its star driver and brand. The so-called “Silver Dates” are unbeatable on the tracks of the world because of their traditional gray color. One of those historically significant units was sold directly by the factory to an anonymous buyer who had no qualms about spending a whopping 135 million to own it. One that no vehicle has ever seen in history. The 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO Tour de France was the most expensive, secretly sold in 2018 to David McNeill, the founder of Weathertech Auto Accessories for $ 80 million.
The new record was the 1955 300 SLR model, thanks to the coupe body designed by Rudolf Uhlenhad for road use, but retaining the mechanical track unit, it was the fastest street car in history. By its time, it had reached a speed of 290 km / h. . Uhlenhaut was invited in memory of its designer to win competitions held in open roads such as Carrera Panamericana and Targa-Florio and Mille Miglia in Mexico. Italy.
Surrounded by tragedy
But in 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans, the worst crash in motor racing history, Frenchman Pierre Lewick’s Mercedes 300 SLR Lance was driven at 200 km / h towards the main Grandstand after colliding with Austin McLean. Levegh and 83 spectators died in the disaster, 180 were injured and the brand decided to withdraw from all competitions until 1989. 300 SLR Uhlenhaut was then a project.
But the initiative was not lost and the unit that was practically ready was incorporated by the second model. Both took the shape of the famous 300 SL “Gullwing” (its characteristic way of opening “Seagull Wings” doors) street. This is basically a race car that can be registered. Convenient to keep its weight to less than a ton, there is no air conditioning, radio or power steering. The gas tank occupies almost the entire trunk and has two spare wheels to calculate its capacity for long distance racing.
Rudolf Uhlenhaut owns one of the two three-way 300 SLRs for personal use. The 230-kilometer stretch between Munich and Stuttgart is said to have been covered in an hour by its 3.0 in-line eight-cylinder engine. The other, a recently sold one, went directly to the Mercedes-Benz Museum and was on display at several events around the world. Now, it will be up to the designer to find it in the museum.
A new life
In 1986, the factory’s Uhlenhatt was sent to Tony Merrick, an expert in one of the world’s most famous restorers of antiques and classics. The work took six months and was all documented in the files and invoices issued with the 2022 sale.
The 300 SLR continues to be on display at various events, museums and exhibitors around the world. It has accumulated 6,045 kilometers on its automotive, and this year, the factory decided to put it up for auction at a private auction under the management of specialist RM Sotheby’s. The reason for the sale is to create a charity, according to the brand, to provide scholarships and research scholarships in the fields of environmental science and decorbonization for youth, according to the manufacturer.
In the private auction, ten collectors were strictly selected and secretly invited by the auctioneer. They arrived in Stuttgart on their private jets on May 5 and had lunch at the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Many interested parties did not attend, but instead sent representatives with broad and sufficient authority to protect their anonymity in the auction, which began at $ 50 million. The winner of the sale contract auction agrees to display the car at events, keep it in perfect condition and change it so as not to resell to a third party. History demands conditions to maintain such a precious asset