Mercedes 300 SLS replica
It’s an exciting machine, but how much value does recent competition success add?
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.’