From 1954-1957 Mercedes-Benz produced one of the most iconic cars of the modern era called the 300SL, also known as the Gullwing for its trademark doors. Ironically, the unique doors (necessitated by its space-frame chassis with extraordinarily wide and high door sills) were more a functional necessity than design flourish, yet they resulted in bestowing the 300SL with its most-recognizable feature.
At the time, the 300SL (SL for Super Leicht) was also known for its state-of-the-art aerodynamics, incredible power, and deft handling to earn this capable machine the title of undisputed fastest road car of its era and perhaps the world’s first post-war supercar. This is no surprise as the road car was derived from Mercedes-Benz’s Le Mans-winning 1952 race car.
From the beginning, race-car DNA and championship provenance was innate in the 300SL and enabled it to propel from 0-60 in 8.8 seconds and accelerate up to 140 MPH. Only 1,400 units were ever produced and as a result, obtaining one is few and far between.
That said, one immaculate example is available from Canepa in California. This particular car comes with a unique history of being the first demonstration car for Leopold “Poldi” Bentley, the first importer of Mercedes-Benz cars in Western Canada. After completing its tour of duty as a demo car, it was purchased in 1956 where it has remained a single-owner car to this day.
With only 45,687 miles on the odometer, it comes in classic silver over red leather interior and is fully optioned. Our featured 300SL also had the benefit of a restoration in the early 1990s including a respray and refurbished interior. You would be hard-pressed to find a cleaner Gullwing. With prices hovering between $700K-$1M and rising, ownership of a 300SL Gullwing is only for a select few, but appreciation for such a fine machine can be had by everyone.
Model: 300SL coupe
Engine: 3.0 inline six-cylinder (240 hp)
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 45,687 miles
Price: Call for price
- One Owner
- Highly Optioned
- Numbers Matching
In 1954 Leopold “Poldi” Bentley was the visionary importer of Mercedes-Benz cars into Western Canada. Akin to Max Hoffman in New York he saw the value of bringing these extraordinary cars to North America. An Austrian by birth, he fled Vienna with his family in 1938 and settled in British Columbia. He changed his name from Leopold Bloch-Bauer and founded a furniture and paneling veneer company called Pacific Veneer, that later became Canfor Corporation, the world’s largest exporter of softwood lumber.
Having grown up with the Silver Arrows and legendary prewar Mercedes cars, he saw a market for these extraordinary cars in the growing metropolis of Vancouver. Using his escalating lumber fortune he put his money where his mouth was and ordered a fully loaded silver on red 1954 300SL. Optioned with everything but Rudge wheels (he had never seen them on a car so he opted for the stock wheels) he set about using the car to convert the people of Western Canada into Mercedes enthusiasts.
Used solely as a factory demonstrator this Gullwing did just that, and Poldi’s new company, Mercedes-Benz Distributor West Ltd., opened on West Georgia Street in Vancouver. The year was now 1956 and 0079 had done its duty, and was due for its first owner. That first owner took the car to his summer home in Western Canada, and there it stayed for over 50 years, driving it sparingly.
In the early 90’s the care of the Gullwing was entrusted to noted 300 SL restorer Rudi Koniczek and his team at Rudi and Company in Vancouver BC. From that day to this they have maintained this car in excellent, original running condition. They repainted the car in the early 90’s. The original single stage Mercedes paint was notorious for going flat after only a few years. While they were at it they did the interior leather and headliner. In line with their flawless level of workmanship they used original Mercedes type hides that are no longer available today.
Also offered by Canepa is the owner’s other 300SL, a 1957 Roadster. The two silver 300SL’s have remained in the original owner’s stewardship until now. Their availability is an unparalleled opportunity in the classic car world. Two 300SL’s sharing the same one owner with unbroken histories, matching numbers, low original mileage, and highly optioned are unlikely to ever surface again. The Gullwing comes with its original belly pans, tools, books, and optional Nardi steering wheel.