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New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

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.

De­tec­tion

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.

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