Mercedes 300 SLS replica

It’s an ex­cit­ing ma­chine, but how much value does re­cent com­pe­ti­tion suc­cess add?

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This Septem­ber, Bon­hams will auc­tion a unique Mercedes­benz 300 SL road­ster at its Chan­tilly sale in France. Based on a 1957 road­ster, it was re­bod­ied in alu­minium by Za­gato in a project for Ger­man busi­ness­man Ge­orge Distler that started in 1986 as a re­cre­ation of Paul O’shea’s 300 SLS Com­pe­ti­tion Road­ster. That was raced ex­ten­sively in Amer­ica in the late Fifties.

Distler’s car was built to com­pete in the 1997 Car­rera Panamer­i­cana, a re-run of the leg­endary early Fifties events. This was odd be­cause O’shea’s car never com­peted there in pe­riod – it wasn’t even built un­til three years af­ter the last run­ning. Nev­er­the­less Distler’s re­cre­ation did well, win­ning its class and com­ing 11th over­all. It has since com­peted in other historic events, but how much value does that con­fer on what is ef­fec­tively just a replica? We asked clas­sic car val­u­a­tion ex­pert John May­head.

‘Bon­hams has val­ued the car at be­tween £1.3m and £2.2m, which puts it above the Hagerty Price Guide’s top value of £1.2m for a stan­dard 300 SL Road­ster, and RM Sotheby’s sold a sim­i­lar SLS Road­ster re­cre­ation in 2013 for £593,600. Have val­ues dou­bled in four years? In this mar­ket, it’s a big call.

‘The val­u­a­tion also begs the ques­tion whether any re­cre­ation is ever worth more than a pris­tine ex­am­ple of the donor model. My gut re­ac­tion is to say no; orig­i­nal­ity is king. But as so of­ten is the case in the clas­sic car world, things are not nec­es­sar­ily that sim­ple. De­spite be­ing a replica, the car has cre­ated its own re­cent racing story, and es­tab­lished its cre­den­tials for other historic events – some­thing for which col­lec­tors pay a huge pre­mium.

That said, Bon­hams has to get the right buy­ers in the room who will be will­ing to pay the ask­ing price – a task that I feel in the cur­rent cli­mate will be a big chal­lenge.’

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