1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” Coupé (W198) 300SL GullwingSOLD

Special order, completely restored, fitted luggage, books and tools

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Reference Number 208716

as of 10/9/2013

Overview
Car 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” Coupé (W198) 300SL Gullwing
VIN 5500663 
Exterior / Interior Color      Silver /      Bright Red 
Condition Pristine 
Mileage 100,108 miles 
Configuration Left Hand Drive (LHD) 
Transmission Manual Shift 
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Known History

Commission Number 759 104

Chassis Number 198.040 5500663

Engine Number 198.980 5500649

Body Number 198.040 5500641

Right Front Axle Number 5500698

Left Front Axle Number 5500698

Rear Axle Ratio 3.89:1

Exterior Color DB 40 White (Now DB 180 Silver Gray Metalilic)

Interior Trim 1079 Red Leatherette

Completion Date August 24th, 1955

Shipping Date August 27th, 1955

 

Mileage 100,107 miles, original from new

 

This particular 300SL Gullwing arrived in New York via a special order placed by the first owner, Ms. Connie Lovejoy, a sports car racing enthusiast who originally resided in Mapelwood, New Jersey and was a prominent founding member of the Mercedes Club of America and a good friend of Dr. Kenneth Bartlett Jr. who was the clubs president. By 1955, she herself had become the club's National Secretary when she placed her order for this particular 300SL.

 

She ordered up her new 300SL via the distributor, Max Hoffmann in New York. The order was placed in the early Summer of 1955 and the vehicle was completed on August 24th, and delivered three days later on August 27th, of 1955. Originally completed in the striking color combination of "DB40" white with "1079" red leatherette interior. Options included a Becker Signal-Seeking Radio, Power Antenna and Factory installed Fitted Luggage. Interestingly, Lovejoy requested an optional, shorter 3.89:1 final drive ratio be fitted to the car which provided better acceleration while reducing overall top speed slightly. A move from Mapelwood to Salisbury, Connecticut put her closer to her favorite race track, Lime Rock where she soon became close friends of Mercedes Factory Team Driver, John Fitch.

 

In the Spring of 1957, Lovejoy, Dr. Bartlett, Fitch and several other enthusiasts were given a luncheon by the local Studebaker-Packard representative including S. N. Challinor, the Assistant General Service Manager. It should be remembered that at the time, Studebaker-Packard were at that time selling and representing much of the sales and service in the States for Mercedes Benz. They were interested as such in an organized event that would attract current and future buyers and Club President, Dr. Bartlett was enthusiastically behind the idea of a National Event that they hoped might attract as many as 50 different owners for a variety of shows, timed runs, rallies and Gymkhanas.

 

Daimler Benz North American Sales President, F.L. Armstong, SCCA officials and Dr. Bartlett signed off on the event and Lime Rock Park officials coordinated and agreed that the first National Club Meet would be held on October 19th and 20th that same year.

 

The November-December 1957 issue of the Mercedes Benz Club of America maganzine, the "Star" features an in depth article with many photos from the two-day National Meet. (A copy of the article is reproduced and shown in the above photograph section.) Of particular interest was that chief judge, John Fitch put in some incredible laps in this particular 300SL, terrifying then owner Lovejoy. The article notes this was the first 300SL Fitch had driven since his race in one at the 1955 Mille Miglia. Lovejoy took several awards both on the track and in the Sunday Concours.

 

Not long thereafter, Ms. Lovejoy had the colr changed from its original DB 50 White to the Factory Racing Colors of "DB 180" Silver. Ms. Lovejoy remained an enthusiastic lover of sports cars and all things motor related. Interestingly enough, she later campaigned a successful Trans Am-prepared Camaro at venues that included her favorite Lime Rock track as well as Bridgehampton.

 

In the late 1960s, she eventually sold the Gullwing to John Igleheart of Redding, Connecticut. Mr. Igleheart enjoyed the Gullwing for over 20 years and many thousands of miles before selling it to noted 300 SL enthusiast Peter Thomas, regarded word-wide as not only an expert on all things 300SL related but also likely to be the single individual who has owned more 300SLs than any other ever!

 

In the late 1980s, Smythe European, a large Mercedes-Benz dealership in San Jose, California, acquired this matching-numbers Gullwing from Mr. Thomas. Al Weber, a Silicon Valley-based executive, spotted the car at the dealership and, having dreamed of owning a Gullwing since his youth, quickly struck a deal to purchase the car. Soon after the purchase, the Gullwing received new paint, chrome and interior, and the engine bay was thoroughly detailed. By the time the work was complete, Mr. Weber had relocated to the Midwest, where the car was then sent. Mr. Weber used the car infrequently over the next few years due to time commitments and, in the mid-1990s, sold it back to Smythe European in California.

 

This beautiful presented Gullwing had been previously in the hands of its last owner for the past 12 years. Throughout his ownership, the 300 SL has seen regular use in the San Francisco Bay Area and on the Monterey Peninsula – one could scarcely ask for a better environment in which to enjoy a Gullwing.

 

Today, this Gullwing retains the high-quality DB 180 Silver paint it acquired during its restoration and presents very well without any visible fault or flaw. The fully painted wheel centers and outer rims are proper for the car’s specification, as ordered, and the front maker lenses are the rare Gullwing-only clear units. All wheels including the spare are correctly date coded from June and July of 1955, shortly before this 300SL was completed.

 

Inside, the proper square-weave carpets along with the headliner were installed in the 1990s per factory patterns by Chad Hunt, a former Gullwing Group Club president and noted 300 SL authority. Likewise, the red leather seats and doorsills are clearly the work of an expert 300 SL trimmer. The dash sparkles with its proper fittings, including a working Becker Mexico "signal Seeking" radio installed beneath, and color-keyed safety belts have been added. The engine compartment has a correct stock appearance, featuring the proper semi-gloss and rough, sand-cast surfaces that were so often lost to interpretive restorations of the period. The original tools as well as a set of books and incredibly beautiful fitted luggage further compliment this 300SL.

 

The former owner reports that during his ownership, the Gullwing has been kept in good operating condition by well-respected 300 SL mechanic Pinky Winther of Carmel, California.

 

We have driven this vehicle frequently and can state with enthusiasm, that it starts on the button, has great power and provides an exhilarating drive with few if any equals! The whine of the gears in the first, second and third ratios, as well as the distinctive Gullwing exhaust note attest to the motorsports racing heritage of the 300 SL.

 

This 300SL has just been given a complete and thorough inspection and evaluation. The engine compression and leak-down tests have been completed and verified that all cylinders are showing excellent even compression and leak-down numbers confirming a tight and well broken in engine with excellent power and performance. All services are current and up to date and this 300SL is ready for any manner of spirited touring and rallying one might desire.

 

As Gullwings continue to grow in popularity with enthusiasts, they are the sports car of choice for many of the most popular rallies and tours. They have long been revered as outstanding touring cars for their spirited handling, power-to-weight ratio and competition capabilities. Presented here is a Gullwing that is driven and enjoyed regularly. At the same time, the cosmetic aspects of the car easily allow it to be exhibited at local shows and displayed in any collection of the most important sports cars.

 

This is a "matching numbers" example without any sign of rust or accident damage. It is fully restored with no known cosmetic or mechanical defects and it is ready for all manner of enjoyment and use.

 

All interested parties are invited to contact us for additional information and details regarding the potential purchase of this vehicle. bnoon@symbolicmotors.com (619) 840-7811

 

All interested parties are warmly welcome to contact me for additional assistance with the purchase of this vehicle.

 

Email: bnoon@symbolicmotors.com

 

Phone: (619) 840-7811

 

Extremely comprehensive, full sets of high resolution inspection photos, records and notes for this Mercedes can be accessed using this link:

 

symbolicphotos.weebly.com