1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster
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Second-to-last 300SL built
Rare disc-brake example – One of only 200
Aluminum alloy engine
Has every upgrade ever made to the 300SL platform
Original red leather interior
Documented ownership history
Has Mercedes-Benz Zertifikat, and Fahrzeug-Daten card
Complete with its original hardtop, books, tools, luggage, spare and jack
The overwhelming popularity of open-top two-seaters in the late 1950’s had Mercedes-Benz reevaluate their current class-leading car, the 300SL Gullwing. Releasing the first 300SL Roadster in 1957, the platform would go on to become a car that was synonymous with style, performance and luxury. Immensely popular among affluent individuals, they were a status symbol of the era and were considered the best open-top car money could buy. This particular Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster is the second-to-last example every built. With its 4-wheel disc brakes, aluminum alloy engine and benefiting from every upgrade made to the 300SL platform since 1954, making this 300SL one of the rarest surviving examples to wear the 300SL badge.
The final production of the legendary 300SL Roadster happened in January and February of 1963. Twenty-six cars would be built in those two months, with the last six built in February. This car, chassis 3257, was completed the day before the factory closed on February 7th, 1963, making it the penultimate 300SL. Because this is the second-to-last 300SL ever made, it benefits from every improvement made to the 300SL platform, with disc brakes and the aluminum-alloy engine only in the last 200 cars.
This Roadster was delivered from the factory in white over a red leather interior, optioned with a black convertible top. Its early history is immensely interesting: Fresh from the factory, it was sent to Mercedes-Benz in Salzburg, Austria, but research indicates that the 300SL did not sell on its initial outing and was returned to the factory for upgrades.
The result of this return to Stuttgart was a second build sheet for 3257, adorned with more options than before. Obviously aimed for the U.S. market, the car was fitted with sealed beam headlights, optioned with a factory hardtop, a U.S.-spec Becker Grand Prix radio, white wall tires, and gauges in English. The 300SL wasn’t converted completely from Euro spec however, as it retained its 3.64 rear differential, Euro steering column, and did not have any rear DOT reflectors. The upgrades did their magic, and the white over red 300SL was sold on February 14th, 1964, one of only three 300SLs sold in 1964.
The first known owner was Robert Lindsay of Spokane, Washington. The first repair order documenting his ownership dates to September 22nd, 1967 when the car only had 19,055 miles on the odometer. On January 2nd, 1968, at 19,365 miles, Lindsay had to replace the engine block and pistons. The engine was replaced with a factory-original aluminum block, and the original engine tag was transferred to the new engine block.
In late 1970, Lindsay sold the car to Bill Sutherland, owner of Sutherland-Marlow, Inc., a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Spokane. While his ownership was brief, he used this 300SL regularly, putting almost 10,000 miles on the car that year., His final repair order dates to November 24th, 1971 with an odometer reading of 28,547 miles.
In December of 1971, the 300Sl was purchased by Mercedes-Benz dealer Phil Smart Sr. There are numerous repair orders from Smart’s ownership at his dealership in Seattle, Washington, evident that he fastidiously maintained the Roadster. The car’s last recorded mileage under his ownership was in 1976 at 32,635 miles.
Smart kept the Roadster in his possession until the 1980s. Long time collector and entrepreneur, Gordon Apker, got a call offering him the 300SL along with other collector cars.
Apker, who paid $55,000 for the 300SL, used it as a weekend car to drive between his home on Puget Sound and his lakeside cottage in Eastern Washington. A few years later, Apker received an offer that he couldn’t refuse for the car. David Brice, an Australian collector, offered $500,000 for the car in late 1988. When a good Roadster was fetching a little over $100k, this was a staggering amount of money and most likely a record. That number wouldn’t be publicly offered for a Roadster until the mid-2000s.
Brice’s collection at the time included the very first alloy Gullwing, which coincidentally was delivered in the same color combination as this 300SL roadster. They were a “book end pair” for any series 300SL collector. The story goes that the very last 300SL was not for sale and remained with the same family for decades, and was destined to eventually take a special place inside the Mercedes-Benz automotive museum. This fact made this second-to-last 300SL the closest you could get to owning the very last 300SL in a private collection.
A California-based dealer, who to date has owned over two hundred 300SL Roadsters and Gullwings, bought this 300SL Roadster and the 300SL Gullwing from Brice in 1992. He sold this Roadster in 1995 to a German collector, who asked to remain anonymous. The customs stamping on one of the paper documents, a factory data card, indicates that it cleared customs on March 30th, 1995.
In 2000, Phil Smart Jr. tracked down his father’s 300SL Roadster in Germany and bought it back. In 2001 he commissioned Rudi Koniczek (Rudi & Company) in Victoria, BC to remove all of the paint down to the bare metal, which revealed the original factory sheet metal with no damage and free of corrosion. The 300SL was re-painted in its original Mercedes-Benz white (weiß) and given a complete mechanical service. In the same year, he gave the car to his father as a surprise present. The father and son would keep this 300SL together for 14 years, driving it less than 1,000 miles in that time and keeping it in excellent condition with regular servicing and detailing.
The Smart family owned this Roadster for a combined 27 years, with the Roadster only being driven a mere 10,000 miles since 1971. An outstanding file of receipts and other history document the current mileage to less than 39,000 original miles.
The paintwork done by Rudi & Company was nothing short of exceptional and to be expected from the 300SL specialist. The all-original leather interior was extremely well preserved, over 55 years old and still in fantastic condition. The entire car presents as an amazing preservation example. Once Canepa completed a full mechanical inspection and serviced all items that needed addressing, the 300SL was treated to a meticulous, concours-level detailing. Major emphasis was placed on preserving the original factory finishes while cleaning the entire car. Underneath the Mercedes was cleaned by hand, carefully addressing the tube-frame chassis while cleaning all components to a spotless finish. The Mercedes-white exterior paint was lightly polished with foam pads to a show-worthy finish. The all-original interior was cleaned delicately, preserving the original red leather and factory finishes throughout. Finishing off the car with careful hand cleaning of the engine bay and trunk, this 300SL is capable of driving to the concours show and being able to show at the same time.
This 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster represents a rare opportunity for its new owner. Hosting every single upgrade that was ever fitted to a 300SL and the second-to-last 300SL ever built, the car is a perfect blend of heritage, performance and rarity. With documented ownership history that illustrates the undying care given to this 300SL Roadster, this is surely one of the finest examples of the breed and certainly one of the most memorable.
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