Ten reasons you need this Merc 300SL

10 April, 2014 | by Top Gear

This Mercedes 300SL Gullwing is set to go on auction in Monaco next month. This is no ordinary Gullwing, however. It’s only one of 11 cars to be picked and sent back to AMG for a light tuning. We’re talking modern running gear and an updated chassis, a restored interior and that bodyshape that crippled many a thought over the years.

It’s estimated to sell for over R8m. Here are ten reasons why you should take this 300SL Gullwing very seriously indeed.


1. It’s just one of 11 cars built to this specification

According to AMG project manager Volker Niewig, you have the Royal Family of Brunei to thank for this gem. They originally put in the request to Mercedes and AMG to build a retro-modded 300SL. AMG said yes, and built 11 of these bespoke Mercs between 1996 and 2009.

2. It’s got a modern Mercedes-Benz AMG engine up front

As upgrades go, you can’t really best an AMG V8. AMG thought so too, and fitted its own M119 6.0-litre behemoth into this little 300SL, an engine that featured in some of the rarer AMGs (SL60, E60). In fact, the M119 was, in turbocharged 5.0-litre form, the heart of Merc’s C11 Group C racer.

Here it produces 283kW, and pushes the Gullwing onto a limited top speed of 155mph. Best to think on that for a moment.

3. It can handle the power

This 300SL keeps the original W198 chassis, though slightly modified to accommodate that monster 6.0-litre V8.

In order to put the power down without exploding in a ball of expensive 1950s metal, AMG binned the Gullwing’s swing rear axle setup, and instead installed the R129 SL’s rear axle assembly. That’s the 1990s Merc SL. There’s also a Bilstein adjustable sports suspension pack installed, and power steering up front.

4. It uses the front brakes from the C36 AMG

While it’s got rear brakes from the W124 E-Class (that’s the one built between the mid-Eighties and mid-Nineties), the 300SL uses the front brakes from the C36 AMG. That was the first car to be jointly developed by Merc and AMG, fact fans!

5. It’s got modern luxuries

Recaro sports seats, three-point seatbelts, a leather wrapped steering wheel, air conditioning, and a modern stereo with a six-disc CD changer and an iPod connection have all been installed.

There are also new AMG wheels with low profile, high performance tyres, and electronically adjustable side mirrors. It just keeps getting better.

6. It cost over R15m million to customise

Of the 11 300SLs built, five were completed for the Royal family of Brunei, while the other six were to delivered to – and we love this bit – ‘qualified customers’. Eight were coupes, with four of these being right-hand-drive, the other four left-hand-drive.

7. This example has been stored in a climate-controlled environment

This particular car was built in 2001 and originally purchased by DD Racing in Germany directly from AMG. In 2005 it then moved to a collector in Hong Kong, where it has remained since, being stored in a climate-controlled garage.

8. Mercedes-Benz and AMG will never do this again to a 300SL

All the cars were built to individual customer specifications, but Mercedes and AMG never bleated about the project, nor have either expressed any interest to do it again. And with so few 300SL Gullwings left on Earth, we suspect these 11 might be the first and last.

9. It’s ready to drive

It works. It’s been recently serviced by SPS Automotive Performance, and since its conversion by AMG, has covered just 300 miles. So it moves and everything. Quite fast, we’re guessing.

10. It’s flippin’ gorgeous

OK, we’re not entirely sure the wheels are the right fit for this car, but come on, the 300SL Gullwing is gorgeous. Arguably the world’s first true supercar, Mercedes’ crowning design achievement and a Hollywood favourite, it’s a very glamorous Thing. Now it’s got the heart to match.

RM will auction this next month in Monaco. We suggest you find a lot of money and head down there.


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