by Jason Giacchino
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL, first introduced in 1954 with its iconic gullwing doors, is considered by many collectors to be the epitome of exclusivity. In fact with its unique doors, technological firsts and low production numbers, the 300SL is considered one of the most collectible Mercedes-Benz models of all time, with prices generally in the $500,000-700,000 range. But if you’re lucky enough to find the rare alloy bodied models, of which only 29 were made, you’re talking about a car worth well into the seven figures price range.
According to Hemmings.com, the “standard 300 SL steel-body coupes had
alloy doors, hood and trunklid, the lightweight models had an all-alloy
body, along with Plexiglas windows, revised and lowered suspension, a
high-lift camshaft, knockoff Rudge wheels and bigger brakes.”
As such, these models are typically associated with rotating pedestals
within pristine showrooms. So imagine the surprise when an competition
special alloy body1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL turned up in a rat-infested,
dusty California garage, buried beneath a pile of old DEC computers.
The extremely rare car belonged to a gentleman by the name of Tom
Welmers, who had received it as a college graduation gift, some 40-years
ago. After driving it for 15-years himself, Wilmer’s alloy body
Gullwing encountered transmission trouble, so he parked it in a garage
in Santa Monica, removed some parts, and began tinkering with it.
Needless to say, he never finished the job.
After years of coaxing, Welmers finally decided to part with his
dusty1955 SL. He agreed to allow a promising buyer to have a look at the
car. The buyer immediately brought in restorer Rudi Koniczek, of Rudi
& Company in Victoria, B.C. Koniczek has worked on many a Gullwing,
including two of the 29 all-alloy bodies. So Rudi was keenly aware of
the fact that only 28of the 29 alloy-bodies had been accounted for.
Three hired hands, Konizcek and his friend spent the better part of two
days in Welmers garage, removing boxes and boxes of old computers, which
Welmers had collected in his days as a computer executive. After
finally clearing a path, Konizcek took a magnet to all the right spots
in order to determine the legitimacy of the vehicle. The car was indeed
the missing alloy body 300SL, albeit a dusty and disheveled version of
Koniczek now has the car in his Victoria shop. He reports that the
buyer, located ironically enough in Santa Monica as well, has requested
that Koniczek restore the car to its original condition. Lucky buyer.
Alloy-bodied Gullwings are valued well into the seven figures, and
considering that this particular specimen had only a single owner, the
sale price will surely surpass that barrier. We estimate the piles of
outdated computer mainframes that have surrounded the Gullwing for the
past few decades to be worth about one of the car’s lug nuts.
Is this the mother of all barn finds? Let us know in the Forums!