17-18 August 2012

Previous Next

Lot 146

1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

  • Chassis no. 198 042 10 002582
  • Engine no. 198 98 10 002640

Sold for $814,000

235 hp, 2,996 cc single overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine, Bosch mechanical fuel injection, four-speed manual gearbox, coil spring independent front suspension, coil spring swing axle rear suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5"

• Matching number example; ex-Ned Tanen

• Regularly maintained by Mercedes-Benz experts

• Strong mechanical and cosmetic condition

• Mercedes’ most iconic roadster

Although Mercedes’ classic 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupe is rightfully recognized for its beautiful appearance and sporting pedigree, by the end of the model’s three-year production run, many drivers agreed that the car left much to be desired in terms of ergonomics and ease of use. Addressing these numerous criticisms, Daimler-Benz unveiled a successor to the Gullwing at the 1957 Geneva Motor Show, a new convertible iteration dubbed the 300SL Roadster. The roadster’s redesigned space frame cleared the way for conventional doors, a change that not only made entering and exiting the car much easier but also allowed for wind-up windows, a feature that provided ventilation sorely lacking in the Gullwing’s notoriously hot cabin.

While transforming the platform into a convertible required structural reinforcement that made the 300SL slightly heavier than its predecessor, performance was essentially the same due to the use of a competition-style camshaft, which boosted the engine’s power output by 20 hp. Handling was improved with the implementation of a lower pivot-point on the rear swing-axle suspension, a modification that was further bolstered by a wider track and fatter tires. By the time production ceased in 1963, only approximately 1,858 examples of the 300SL Roadster were built, and the sublime convertible remains an elegant and revered progenitor of the vaunted lineage of SL road cars that followed.

By late-1987, this 300SL Roadster had come into the care of Hollywood producer Ned Stone Tanen, a legendary studio executive with Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures who headed production of some of the 1970s biggest blockbuster films, including American Graffiti, Jaws, The Deer Hunter, and The Blues Brothers. In the early-1980s, Mr. Tanen left Universal to independently produce comedies that are now considered to be generational icons, including Sixteen Candles, St. Elmo’s Fire, and The Breakfast Club. Considering that Mr. Tanen purchased this elegant roadster while at the apex of his career, one might view the car as a benchmark of his finest hour.

A rich compendium of service receipts reflects Mr. Tanen’s sincere and meticulous care of this Mercedes-Benz during his ownership, with the first major round of investment including a freshening in 1995 by Hjeltness Restoration, of Escondido, California, recognized specialists in 300SL restorations. Over the ensuing years, the paint was refinished, the hardtop was refurbished, and the gas gauge and the heater were repaired. In 2005, Mr. Tanen had the 300SL appraised, at which time the car was evaluated to be a strong example.

In 2007, Mr. Tanen invested further effort in the car’s presentation, retaining Sehmi Motors, of Los Angeles, specialists in the service and restoration of Mercedes-Benz, to replace the trunk seals and tonneau-cover seals, repair the radio and clock, re-chrome the bumpers, tune up the engine, repair the fuel pump, and replace all tie-rods. After a reappraisal by the same firm in 2008, Mr. Tanen commissioned Van Nuys Sports Cars, of Sherman Oaks, California, also specialists in Mercedes-Benz, to conduct some mechanical work, including cleaning the fuel injectors, reconditioning the intake manifold, and replacing the water pump.

After Mr. Tanen’s passing in 2009, his beautiful automobile collection was gradually dispersed. The final three cars of the collection, which included this classic Mercedes roadster, as well a Shelby Cobra and a Ferrari 275 GTB, were acquired by the consignor, a bi-coastal enthusiast who maintains a sparingly driven collection of fine automobiles at his West Coast estate in Montecito, California. While in this desirable state of controlled storage, this car was regularly tended to by Jack Bianchi, a renowned veteran of the Santa Barbara motoring niche and an experienced sports car mechanic. In addition to ensuring that the 300SL remained in strong mechanical condition, ever prepared for the always-possible arrival of its owner, Mr. Bianchi undertook a handful of minor measures to further bolster the car’s authenticity. These steps included sourcing an elusive, proper, white factory steering wheel with the correct horn ring to replace the Nardi wheel that Mr. Tanen had preferred. The car’s originality is further enriched by the presence of all of its original manuals and warranty cards, including the original tire warranty, as well as a complete toolkit.

This charming 300SL is a mechanically numbers-matching example, one that certainly offers strong cosmetic quality and can be enjoyed as a capable driver. It promises its next owner ease of use and luxurious performance as one of Mercedes’ most esteemed open-top models. An arresting example of Mercedes’ classic SL Roadster that is sure to turn heads wherever it goes, this car would beautifully complement the finest of collections.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more