Rétromobile 2024 Highlights The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

Rétromobile 2024 Highlights The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
Rétromobile 2024 Highlights The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

The famous 300 SL model designation is the main theme of Mercedes-Benz Classic at the Rétromobile show in Paris, in Pavilion 1 / Booth No. J062. One highlight of the trade show (31 January to 4 February 2024) is the rarely shown 300 SL racing prototype (W 194/11) from the company’s vehicle collection. The engineers dubbed this one-off “Hobel” (German for “carpenter’s plane”) because of its angular front. They developed the vehicle for the 1953 motorsport season on the basis of the 300 SL motor-racing car, which had been extremely successful in the 1952 season. However, the “Hobel” was never used because Mercedes-Benz focussed on entering Formula One from 1954.

The Rétromobile show has an excellent reputation among collectors as one of the leading sales events of the year. Mercedes-Benz Classic is offering selected vehicles for sale on this exclusive platform: three Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadsters (W 198) are on offer in Paris. The super-sportscar is the open-top version and successor to the 300 SL Coupé with its iconic gullwing doors, which was launched in 1954. From 1957 to 1963, the Sindelfingen plant only produced 1,858 examples of the Roadster. Two of the vehicles for sale have been restored to the highest standards of authenticity by the experts at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre. The third Roadster impresses with its unrestored condition and completely original technology. It is a future restoration project.

Unique expertise for maximum originality

At the Rétromobile show, Mercedes-Benz Classic will demonstrate its outstanding expertise in the various services for classic vehicles. The overriding goal is to offer customers the greatest possible originality. Servicing is carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s strict specifications. And the aim of every works restoration is to preserve the original substance in the best possible way – existing components are refurbished where possible. If this is not possible, the experts at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centres in Fellbach near Stuttgart and Long Beach, USA, make use of the comprehensive range of Mercedes-Benz Classic Genuine Parts: Most replacement and wearing parts are readily available for classics such as the 300 SL (W 198). This keeps the historic vehicles in their original, roadworthy condition and also serves to preserve their value. Mercedes-Benz Classic preserves extensive knowledge about model series and individual vehicles in its archives.

Original vehicle documents are essential for restorations to the highest standards. Mercedes-Benz Classic offers a special service in Fellbach: in every detail, an expert manufacturer appraisal verifies the originality of particularly valuable classics from the brand and its corporate predecessors. The specialists use modern testing and measuring methods during the vehicle inspection, and examine numerous features of the vehicle, ranging from matching vehicle numbers to authentic part specifications and materials. This information is combined with the results of the archive research to create a unique overall appraisal.

The Mercedes-Benz Classic vehicles at Rétromobile 2024

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing prototype “Hobel” (W 194/11), built in 1952

Display vehicle

In 1952, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL motor-racing car (W 194) marked the brand’s extremely successful return to international motorsport after the Second World War. Ten of these cars were built. The great triumphs included double victories in the Le Mans 24-hour race and the Carrera Panamericana. An eleventh example of the W 194 model series was built in 1952 as a racing prototype for 1953. It was improved in many respects compared to the 300 SL motor-racing car. The engine delivered 158 kW (215 hp) thanks to direct petrol injection. That was a good 29 kW (40 hp) more than in the original carburettor version. In addition, the transmission was installed in a transaxle configuration, a single-joint swing axle was used for the first time, the cooling air ducting was modified, the vehicle weight was reduced and the suspension was revised. The modified front design with reduced frontal area earned the motor-racing car the nickname “Hobel”. The one-off was completed at the beginning of 1953. However, the company decided to return to Grand Prix racing in 1954. All other motorsports activities were subordinated to this goal, so the “Hobel” was never used in a race. However, it provided important findings for the new W 196 Formula One racing car, and its fuel-injected engine was an important precursor for the 300 SL Coupé (W 198) production sports car, which was produced from 1954.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing prototype “Hobel” (W 194/11)

Production year: 1952 
Engine: 6/in-line 
Displacement: 2,996 cc 
Output: 158 kW (215 hp) at 5,800 rpm 
Maximum speed: 260 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198), production year 1957

Vehicle available for sale

This 300 SL Roadster was produced in November 1957 – the year when the open-top Mercedes-Benz super-sportscar celebrated its premiere. It has a graphite grey (DB 190) paint finish. A total of 125 customers ordered this colour over the entire production period of the 300 SL Roadster from 1957 to 1963. The outstanding feature of this vehicle is the combination with the luxurious cream-coloured leather interior. Mercedes-Benz Classic acquired the Roadster in 2006, with the highest degree of originality and in excellent condition. Until 2017, the sports car was used regularly at high-ranking shows and customer events. In 2017, the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre in Fellbach began a comprehensive works restoration, which was completed in 2023. The vehicle is now back in its original 1957 condition.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198), production year 1958

Vehicle available for sale

This 300 SL Roadster has an extraordinary history. Its first owner ordered the car in New York. It impresses with a special colour combination: the lady customer chose a fire engine red paint finish (DB 543), ivory-coloured leather upholstery and a black fabric soft top. She drove the Roadster for almost four decades. In 1997, it became the property of her granddaughter. The further history of the 300 SL took it to various continents and owners, and eventually to the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre in Fellbach near Stuttgart. From 2012 to 2020, it underwent a works restoration in accordance with the strict standards of Mercedes-Benz Classic. The restoration, which took around 3,500 hours, focussed on preserving the original components. The vehicle with “matching numbers” is now back to its 1958 condition, when the first owner took delivery of the fire engine red super-sportscar in New York.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198), production year 1962

Vehicle available for sale

This Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, produced in October 1962, was personally collected in Sindelfingen by its American first owner in 1963. The Roadster later belonged to an owner in Arizona, USA, before being acquired by a doctor from Oklahoma City in the early 1970s. The new owner had the bodywork painted in silver and the engine completely overhauled. He drove the Roadster regularly until his death in 1987. The 300 SL was then carefully placed in storage. With the support of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre Long Beach, this vehicle, which has only been visually refurbished, is now available for purchase. An expert appraisal by Mercedes-Benz Classic confirms that the technical components are in their original condition: an ideal prerequisite for a works restoration.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198) – For all three vehicles available for sale

Engine: 6/in-line 
Displacement: 2,996 cc 
Output: 158 kW (215 hp) at 5,800 rpm 
Maximum speed: Up to 250 km/h

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