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A one-of-two Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe breaks records

On this planet of basic automobiles, there’s costly after which there’s Ferrari-expensive. Or a minimum of, there was Ferrari-expensive as a result of as of now it appears that evidently a 1956 Mercedes-Benz has set the brand new all-time document for the most costly automobile on the earth. The place within the what, who and the way has this occurred? Effectively, Mercedes-Benz themselves have apparently bought one among solely two 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes ever made, each nonetheless in existence and owned by the corporate itself till now, for a monumental 135 MILLION euros. Take that, Ferrari!

In case you undergo the listing of most costly automobiles ever bought, immediately from one proprietor to the following or by way of auctions, a number of data have been set up to now 8 or 9 years. As costs from basic automobiles have skyrocketed, there’s one model that just about dominates, and that’s after all none apart from Ferrari. Out of the 11 most costly automobiles listed by Hagerty, solely 4 will not be by the fabled Italian carmaker, together with the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe we’re masking at the moment.

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy & 1947 Bentley MK VI

With regards to these high-profile basic automobiles a number of issues make for such astronomical costs. Firstly it’s about rarity, clearly. You’ll by no means see a run-of-the-mill VW Beetle hit greater than one million. However a novel Ferrari, or a one-of-two Mercedes-Benz? That’s just about assured to hit seven or eight figures at public sale. Subsequent is pedigree. A uncommon race automobile with a totally documented historical past will garner extra consideration and thus fetch larger costs in comparison with lesser-known automobiles. Particularly when the racing pedigree contains legendary drivers or iconic race wins. And lastly is mainly right down to situation and originality. Is a automobile 100% unique except possibly a paint job or upholstery? Do the engine, gearbox and chassis match quantity to quantity? In that case, that’s price-bump quantity three.

After all, these aren’t the one components that decide a automobile’s worth, however they do have the most important affect. Why then, has this automobile hit such a loopy worth, given the very fact it really by no means raced? We have to clarify a number of issues concerning the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, its racing heritage and the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe to grasp.

The legend of the 300 SL

The story begins, because it so typically does, with a race automobile laying the inspiration of one of the vital iconic street automobiles in historical past. The Mercedes-Benz W194 300 SL was constructed and raced in 1952 and predates the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing by two years. This was at a time when it was nonetheless very a lot true that what automobile received on a Sunday, would promote on a Monday. This implies, in case you have a aggressive automobile as a works group, likelihood is individuals would begin asking you to purchase it, or its road-going equal. A pair of W194’s featured on Jay Leno’s Storage some time again, which we included in a earlier instalment of The Petrolhead Nook:

The preliminary success of the 300 SL race automobile instigated Mercedes-Benz to construct a prototype for a road-going 300SL. Introduced in 1952, with a newly penned physique, it already featured the automobile’s signature roof-hinged Gullwing doorways. It took two extra years and a redesign to create the manufacturing model of the 300 SL Gullwing as we all know it. The lengthy nostril housed a straight-6 engine with 180bhp, which grew to 240bhp over time. Different signature options are the “eyebrows” alongside the facet of the physique, the tilt-down steering wheel for simpler entry into the cabin, and the boot being giant sufficient for 2 spare wheels if wanted. A complete of 1,400 coupes had been constructed between 1954 and 1957, adopted by 1,858 Roadsters between 1957 and 1963.

The race-bred 300 SL discovered success early on because it mixed low weight with a low-drag aerodynamic form, regardless of being underpowered in comparison with the competitors. It raced within the Carrera Panamericana, Mille Miglia and Le Mans, to call just some outings. Throughout the 1952 Le Mans 24 Hours race, it even managed to return in first and second total, in opposition to stiff competitors from Ferrari, Lancia, Aston Martin, Nash-Healey and Cunningham. Hermann Lang and Fritz Reiss received outright, coming residence a lap forward of the 300 SL pushed by Theo Helfrich and Helmut Niedermayr, who in flip was a considerable 14 laps forward of third place.

But it surely wasn’t all rosy in terms of the historical past of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing program. Throughout the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours race, catastrophe actually struck. On lap 35, so fairly early on within the race (the winner accomplished 307 laps after 24h) a shunt between Mercedes-Benz’s Pierre Levegh and Austin-Healey’s Lance Macklin despatched each automobiles flying off. Inflicting the crash was Macklin, who was caught out by the braking energy of Mike Hawthorn who had simply lapped him however was peeling off into the pits.

Hawthorn, battling fiercely with Juan Manuel Fangio had additionally simply handed Pierre Levegh. With Macklin transferring out of the way in which, he got here immediately into the trail of the Mercedes of Levegh and Fangio. Levegh hit Mackling, and each automobiles flew off, with Levegh crashing into the spectator stands. The crash not solely killed Levegh, but in addition 83 individuals watching the race, and injured 180 extra.

To today, it’s the most catastrophic crash in motorsports and result in the withdrawal of Mercedes-Benz in all types of racing for many years to return. And that is the place the story of the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe comes into play.

Rudolf Uhlenhaut sitting on his private Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe.

The 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe

Previous to the horrific crash at Le Mans, Mercedes-Benz was dominating the post-war period of racing a lot because it did the pre-war period. Earlier than the outbreak of World Struggle II it was profitable in each Grand Prix racing and world pace document makes an attempt with quite a few automobiles, such because the W25, W125 and W165. It was these automobiles that had been granted the “Silver Arrows” nickname following a disputable story to decrease the load of one of many automobiles to satisfy the regulated weight restrict by scraping off its paint, exposing the naked metallic beneath.

The W196 chassis was developed purely for racing, and fitted with a 2.5-litre supercharged straight-8 engine producing 257bhp. It had a substantial benefit over its rivals because of superior gas injection know-how. It was raced with a streamlined, closed-wheel physique on high-speed tracks like Monza, however largely with an open-wheeled configuration. In two years of competitors, it received 9 Formulation 1 races in simply 12 race begins, with all however one by the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio (Stirling Moss being the opposite).

The W196 chassis was additional developed into the W196S 300 SLR, now with two seats and an enlarged and extra highly effective engine. Stirling Moss took it to victory within the 1955 Mille Miglia, alongside navigator Dennis Jenkinson. The horrible incident on the Le Mans 24 Hours of the identical yr noticed Mercedes-Benz cancel all racing applications instantly, shelving the 300 SLR altogether. Mercedes-Benz constructed a complete of 9 300 SLRs, two of which had been to be put aside per order of Rudolf Uhlenhaut, Chief of Design for the corporate on the time. These two automobiles had been to be constructed as road-legal automobiles, with one among them ending up as Uhlenhaut’s private automobile. One of many two was entered within the 2013 Goodwood Competition of Pace and made a high-speed enjoyable up the hill climb course:

The physique for the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe resembles that of the 300 SL Gullwing albeit with a extra streamlined total design draped over a barely bigger chassis. It was given a full set of lights to satisfy laws, however the remainder was similar to the 300SLR utilized in racing at Le Mans or within the Mille Miglia. Because of its highly effective engine and low-drag profile, the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe had a prime pace of 290kph, by far the very best prime pace of a street automobile on the time.

With two constructed, it’s already a lot rarer than the Ferrari 250 GTO that beforehand held the document for the most costly automobile ever bought. Mercedes-Benz owned each the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe’s for many years, displaying one among them in its museum in Unhealthy Cannstatt and the opposite residing in one among its automobile vaults. But now, with out communication in anyway, one among these automobiles is allegedly bought for 135 million euros. A really staggering amongst of cash for something, not to mention a automobile. Once more, it’s simply rumoured presently, but when it had been to be true which means it has nearly doubled the earlier document. Publications like Motor1, Hagerty and CarScoops all not too long ago reported on the sale of the automobile, so it’s trying to be very a lot a real story.

Editorial Word: All pictures depicted within the story are both from earlier articles or sourced from Supercars.web and Hagerty.com.

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