There aren't many of Mercedes-Benz's 300 SL Gullwings around. Only 1400 rolled out of Stuttgart between 1954 and '57, making each of these icons of automotive design worth at least $1 million each – almost regardless of condition.
Imagine then having an all-original Gullwing stashed away in storage for over half a century, having been primed for a touch-up decades ago but never seeing the light of day and running. That's exactly what barn find hunter Tom Cotter has come across, with some help of Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance founder Bill Warner.
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Of those 1400 Gullwings, the one sat inside a Florida garage is the 43rd of its kind built. We don't know precisely where in the Sunshine State it is or who owns the non-running car, but we do know is it's still an original car – a coat of primer aside.
It appears this Gullwing was already being prepped for an update of its exterior paint not long after its purchase from new. Alas, it never hit the road again after being taken aside for its aborted repaint.
'This car belongs to a long time friend of mine. I [first] saw it when I was 16 years old,' explained Warner.
'It's a true garage barn find, a fabulous car that's all-original. It was done in primer many years ago with the anticipation of repainting it. But it's never been repainted. All the chrome trim is off and in the car.'
It's quite incredible how this Mercedes-Benz managed to go for so long without the car collecting public becoming aware of its existence. It spent only the first two years of its existence being driven, the rest tucked away from prying eyes.
The signs of just how long it's been left longing for a revival are more subtle than you might expect. Outwardly it's clear this car has been parked for a fair while, but factoring in the historic Englebert tyres, or a rag stuffed into the throttle body to stop mice nesting in the engine, it's clear this Gullwing has not gone anywhere for decades – and may not do so for decades more.
Warner makes clear this car won't run again without a full restoration. A simple recommissioning certainly isn't going to do the trick. But despite its non-runner status, along with a lack of the more desirable options which were available on the 300 SL when new like a Becker radio or Rudge knockoff wheels, it's still worth a pretty penny. $900,000, according to Cotter, a figure we're inclined to agree with.
We don't know what the plans for this car are but, regardless of value, it would be good to see the old girl simply run again. Cotter and Warner suggest they'll come back in 20 years for another look. Let's hope it doesn't take quite that long.
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