ince completing an extensive restoration of a 1957 Mercedes-benz 300SL roadster several years ago (featured in NZ Classic Car February 2008), Mercedes-benz aficionado Garry Boyce has been busy with a couple of other very interesting projects. At this year’s Ellerslie Intermarque Concours d’elegance, Garry unveiled his latest masterpiece and the culmination of an exhaustive and comprehensive restoration — a 1956 Mercedes-benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’, which he entered in the prestigious Masters Class competition alongside four other contenders.
After judging, Garry’s 300SL coupé won the Masters Class, scoring 564 out of a possible 590 points — the third highest score achieved at this event in its 42-year history. His 1957 300SL SL roadster won this same event in 2009, achieving 565 points.
It’s fair to say that nothing much happens in classicMercedes world, locally or internationally, without Garry knowing about it, so it wasn’t surprising to learn that he became aware of an extremely rare 300SL lightweight Gullwing as well as a 1958 300SL roadster hiding away somewhere in the Waikato around 10 years ago. As is more often the case in these situations, the cars were not for sale.
However, not long after Garry purchased his 1957 300SL roadster, he managed to persuade the owner of those other two cars to allow him and his restoration team to take a look at the ’58 roadster. What they discovered was a very distressed but largely unmolested car. In fact, the car was so original that the body had never been off the chassis, meaning that most of the parts and fittings were still present and correct, as they had been fitted by the factory.
Garry also took the opportunity to take a quick look at the lightweight coupé on the same day, just a few kilometres away from the roadster’s resting place. What he saw as he inspected such a desirable machine sent shivers down his spine, as the car could only be described as being a complete and utter basket case. After leaving the premises, in somewhat of a distressed state himself, Garry could only speculate as to the ultimate fate of these cars. For an avowed lover of the Mercedes-benz marque, contemplating what the future held for these two 300SLS was either the stuff of dreams or, more probably, nightmares.
Over time, Garry was able to ascertain that the owner of both of these cars was not living New Zealand, having shipped the pair of 300SLS from the UK during the late ’80s, supposedly for eventual restoration. Further investigation revealed that the Gullwing had been involved in an accident at some point during its life and received frontal damage; it also became apparent that the roadster had been sourced as a donor car to provide parts to enable a full rebuild of the more desirable coupé.