FEATURE CAR Mercedes-benz 300SL Production Figures
1954–’57 1957–’63 300SL coupé 300SL roadster 1400 (incl. 29 alloy-body cars) 1858
Thus, nappa leather from fallow-deer hides was dyed to match a small sample of the original vinyl found tucked behind a panel. The red-tartan–wool gabardine–upholstered seats are to original specification, and the new, cream wool headlining was matched exactly to the original.
While all this work was being attended to, the car’s aluminium body was being hammered and filed to a paint finish; no body fillers were used on the 300SL’S body. At the time Garry sent the car to the paint shop, he reckons it looked so good in bare metal that it seemed a shame to paint it. Despite that, the body was etch-primed, paint-primed, and blocked with a paint system from Glasurit. The final colour coats were flow-coated to give added lustre and depth of colour, with the original shade of DB 608 Elfenbein (Elephant Ivory) being meticulously matched.
During the final stages of restoration, before the body went to the paint shop, the car was given a due-diligence inspection by Herr Michael Plag and Herr Gerd Langer from the Mercedes-benz Classic Centre and the Mercedes-benz Classic Archive, respectively. The car was subsequently issued with the ‘Expertize’ that certifies its authenticity.
Discarded parts of the aluminium body and space-frame chassis were taken back to Stuttgart for spectrum analyses of the metals, which confirmed they were manufactured in the 1950s.
The Expertize consists of two bound books approximately 25-millimetres thick, printed in both English and German. Garry was delighted to read the following statement contained within the Expertize: “We could not have restored the car better in Germany.”
Further, it was not until this inspection that Garry was made aware that all the aluminium-body cars were handmade in the racing department at Untertürkheim and not at the body works at Sindelfingen. This explains the small dimensional differences on the alloy-bodied cars.
The restoration of this car has taken four years, being worked on alongside Garry’s other 300SL roadster — a project that is now nearing completion.
Complete with matching-numbers drivetrain and all components matching the factory build sheet (with the exception of its being trimmed in nappa leather rather than vinyl Tex Leder), this breathtaking example is the only one of the aluminium-body 300SLS to have been built in this combination of DB 608 Elfenbein (Elephant Ivory) paint, red-tartan–wool gabardine–upholstered seats, and cream L2– specification trim.
So, what’s next? After the stress of having two body reconstructions going on at once with restorer Lloyd Marx working on two engines, two gearboxes, and the running gear for two cars at the same time, Garry reckons there’s an old saying in life that goes something like ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get!’ Garry truly deserves the luck that has come his way.
Can you imagine a matching pair of 300SL Roadsters lined up to compete in next year’s Ellerslie Intermarque Concours d’elegance? That’s Garry’s plan for 2016 — and it’s something we can’t wait to see. As for the rare and valuable Gullwing, it looks as if Garry has decided to sell this incredible vehicle; alas, more than likely the new owner will not be resident in New Zealand. And, of course, Garry’s already on the lookout for his next project — watch this space!