‘There is no doubt that the 300SL roadster is a truly great dual-purpose sportscar, equally at home in traffic and the open road, or on the track,’ words that remain equally true today.” Road & Track in its 1958 road test.
Eager to build on the sales success of the earlier “Gullwing” version of the 300 SL, the open-top Roadster variant replaced the hard-top and was first displayed by Mercedes-Benz at the Geneva Motor Show in 1957.
Overall design of the 300 SL Roadster changed slightly in order to facilitate the conventional doors and convertible top—leading to alterations to the space frame alongside the lowering of the sills to increase floor space. This resulted in easier access for the driver and passenger; early adopters of the Gullwing coupe cited this as one of the main areas for improvement, though this was criticism in isolation for a car that was otherwise highly praised.
The roadster version was for many years overshadowed by the Gullwing; however, as more savvy enthusiasts have become privy to the advantages of the roadster, their values are now catching up to those of the coupes. Indeed, the increased practicality of proper wind-up windows and doors, improved drivability from the revised rear suspension, and inimitable open air experience make the roadster a more enjoyable car to use than the Gullwing.
ABOUT THIS SPECIFIC EXAMPLE
The car’s history papers show that the first registration was on 25 May 1959.
In America, the car was first registered to S. Nealey of Champaign, IL, USA. Before the car came from America to Belgium in 1994, it changed hands 4 more times.
The car was delivered new in silver with a red interior. All the time the car has been in America, it has been in this colour combination.
The new owner in Belgium decided to give this 300SL a new look and had it repainted to dark blue. This has been done very professionally and documents are present.
The interior has also been updated and the driver has given the car a brown interior.
The car also comes with an original custom-made hardtop. The hardtop is numbered and therefore unique to this car.
The car’s documents also include some invoices. These invoices show that a lot of work was done to the car very recently.
For example, we see an invoice from 16 November 2020, where the car was serviced by Mercedes-Benz Specialist Sterren Service Centrum.
The invoice shows that over €13,000 worth of maintenance has been carried out. Among other things, the battery was replaced, the valve cover gasket was replaced and new spark plugs were put in.
From the outside, the car looks fantastic.
The blue exterior colour combined with the brown interior gives the car an incredibly chic look.
The undamaged hub caps in the same colour as the exterior complete the picture.
The interior is in lovely original condition with some creasing and minor cracks but great original presentation overall.
The leather trim on the dashboard is very nice, as are the instruments and switches, which are very nice unrestored condition as well.
The carpets show some wear and the car is still equipped with its Becker Europe radio.
Also the steering wheel is in excellent condition and the interior has the distinctive smell that is unique to a 300SL with original interior. The hard top headliner is original, having never been renewed.
As for the driving experience, the car drives exactly as you expect from a 300SL Roadster. It feels like an oasis of luxury and the ride is incredibly smooth.
Prior to this 300SL Roadster, we also had a 300SL Gullwing. It’s nice to see that the difference with the 300SL is considerable. Where the Gullwing is really made for racing and this is reflected in the driving experience, the Roadster is really made for long drives in the sunlight. The difference is there between the Gullwing and the Roadster.
The car runs and drives superbly, reminding the driver why the 300SL is such a legendary car, as well as how impressive the car must have been when new.
It starts easily and exhibits virtually none of the cold-bloodedness that is virtually a defining feature of the 300SL.
Also the engine is powerful and makes great noise. As far as the gearbox is concerned, this is excellent with slick and precise operation that gives an impression of robustness that does not exist in an Italian gearbox of the same period.
We are sure its new owner will enjoy this car very much and this is a great opportunity to acquire a beautiful specified and restored 300SL Roadster.