If we frequently return to the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe and Roadster, it’s because they are among the best-built and most user-friendly classic cars ever produced. Firmly positioned in the million-dollar-plus category, these beloved Silver Stars are solid blue-chip investments. While we recommend viewing a classic car as a passion purchase rather than a pure investment, it’s reassuring to know that the money spent is unlikely to be wasted when the time comes to sell. This enduring value is attributed to the 300 SL’s timeless beauty, reliability, and rewarding driving experience.
Mercedes-Benz built much of its postwar reputation on the W194 race car after World War II, which achieved remarkable success on the track. At the urging of Max Hoffmann, the U.S. Mercedes-Benz importer responsible for iconic cars like the Porsche 356 Speedster and BMW 507, a road-going version was developed. Between 1954 and 1957, a total of 1,400 examples of the 300 SL Coupe, affectionately known as the “Gullwing,” were crafted. Inspired by the convertible-loving Californian market, Mercedes-Benz transitioned to producing the 300 SL Roadster in May 1957, ultimately manufacturing 1,858 units until early 1964. It’s estimated that approximately 1,500 of these Roadsters still exist today.
As top-tier collectibles, these cars are relatively abundant, ensuring sustained collector demand. Their popularity can be attributed in part to their performance, which, even by today’s standards, feels remarkably modern. Both model variants are powered by a 3.0-liter straight-six engine delivering around 225 hp at 5,800 rpm. They also feature Bosch mechanical fuel injection, a groundbreaking technology for its time. The cars come with a straightforward four-speed gearbox, independent suspension, and hydraulic drum brakes on all four wheels, all of which were best-in-class during their era.
Beneath the graceful bodywork lies an intricate tube chassis. The Roadster is notably more comfortable to drive than the Gullwing, boasting regular doors, roll-up windows, and, crucially, improved high-speed handling due to a revised rear swing-axle.
On September 29, a 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, a fine specimen of this classic icon, will go under the hammer at Bonhams’ Audrain Concours Auction in Rhode Island. It is part of a 22-car collection from the estate of James Messenger, featuring a mix of European, British, and American classics, all being sold without reserve.
This particular 300 SL Roadster is finished in Mercedes-Benz’s DB172G Anthracite Metallic and retains its original chassis (No. 002689), engine, and body numbers. It underwent a meticulous restoration carried out by marque specialist Scott Melnik Auto Engineering of Calabasas, California, spanning the years 1997 to 1999. The interior features recent retrimming in black leather, charcoal square-weave carpeting, the correct ivory steering wheel and gear knob, a Becker Mexico radio, lift-latch competition-style lap belts, and restored factory switchgear and instrumentation. Despite being offered without a reserve price, this standout lot is estimated to fetch between $1.2 million and $1.4 million.