RM Sotheby’s announced a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing, estimate $7,000,000 – $9,000,000, for the Scottdale, Arizona 2022 classic car auction.
A rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing with impeccable provenance was announced as a headline car for the RM Sotheby’s Arizona sale during the annual Scottsdale week in late January 2022. Only 29 aluminum Gullwings were ever produced, which partly explains the eyewatering estimate of $7,000,000 to $9,000,000. the car was originally delivered to Joseph Weckerlé of Casablanca, Morocco, but famously belonged for three decades to Hyatt Cheek, who had various senior positions in the Mercedes-Benz Club of America.
→ See also RM Sotheby’s Arizona 2022 Sale Auction Results — the Gullwing sold for a 300 SL record $6,825,000.
RM Sotheby’s Arizona (Scottsdale) Sale 2022
RM Sotheby’s Arizona classic car auction: 27 January 2022 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. A traditional live auction is planned.
The annual Arizona auction is usually a good earner:
- In 2022, RM Sotheby’s earned $43.3 million with an impressive 95% sell-through rate.
- In 2021, RM Sotheby’s earned $35,065,900 with a sell-through rate of 90%.
- In 2020, RM Sotheby’s earned $30.4 million at Arizona with a 90% sell-through rate. According to Hagerty, the average sale price was down to $238,507.
- In 2019, RM Sotheby’s earned $37 million with a sell-through rate of 85% of 154 lots on offer. According to Hagerty, the average sale price was $273,710 per car.
- In 2018, RM Sotheby’s grossed $35.8 million by selling 109 cars of 127 offered for a sell-through rate of 86% and an average $328,404 per car. (Hagerty calculations)
- In 2017, RM Sotheby’s earned $54 million from 141 cars offered with a sell-through rate of 89%. RM Sotheby’s sold 15 cars for more than a million dollars.
The Arizona / Scottsdale auction record is $9,900,000 paid for a 1937 Mercedes Benz 540 K Special Roadster by Sindelfingen at the RM Sothebys Arizona 2016 sale.
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing
An extremely rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing, chassis number 5500332, estimate $7,000,000 to $9,000,000, is on offer at the RM Sotheby’s Arizona (Scottsdale) 2022 classic car auction. Although around 1,400 Gullwings were produced, only 29 lightweight alloy versions were ever made.
Chassis number 5500332 retains its original lightweight body and numbers-matching 3.0-liter NSL engine and currently exhibits significant attention to factory-correct features throughout, befitting its provenance and near-exclusive maintenance by Paul Russell’s famous workshop since 1975.
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Leichtmetallausführung
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupe is considered by many the ultimate sports car and the most iconic of all the post-war sports car designs. Representing the peak of the model’s roadgoing development is the Leichtmetallausführung, or Light Metal Version, produced in aluminum. Commonly known as the “Alloy” Gullwing, it is unequivocally the ultimate production version of Mercedes-Benz’s most celebrated creation.
The Alloy Gullwing boasts a special, competition-bred configuration, which differs in many ways from the standard steel-bodied production car. These rare Alloy coupes were purpose-built for competition and the changes resulted in an overall weight reduction of 209 pounds, thus making the Alloy Gullwing especially competitive against the best of the competition.
The cars also featured race-bred, high-performance NSL engines tuned to deliver in excess of 215 horsepower. Rudge center-mount wheels came standard, as did special vented front brake drums. Finally, the suspension was revised with exclusive springs and shocks, which provided better high-speed handling.
Mercedes-Benz commenced production in 1955, and factory records show just 29 examples were made available to private customers.
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing at RM Sotheby’s Arizona 2022
The car offered in Arizona is the 13th of the 24 Alloy Gullwings produced in 1955. Chassis number 5500332 was ordered by official Mercedes-Benz agent Joseph F. Weckerlé of Casablanca, Morocco. It was fitted with all the requisite lightweight equipment and finished in Silver Gray Metallic (DB 180) over a blue vinyl/blue gabardine fabric interior (L1). Additional factory specifications include a full complement of desirable features such as the high-speed 3.42 rear axle with uprated metric 270-kph speedometer, Becker radio, and standard glass windows (as opposed to Plexiglas). It was the only Alloy example commissioned by Weckerlé, and as such, the sole specimen delivered new to Africa.
Early in its life, the “Weckerlé Alloy” was imported to the United States. By 1975 the car was in the hands of Jack F. Bryan Jr. of Dallas, Texas. Bryan immediately submitted the car to the world’s foremost 300 SL restoration facility, Paul Russell and Company in Essex, Massachusetts (then operating under the name Gullwing Service Company in nearby Topsfield) for a complete restoration.
Notably, damage to Alloy Gullwings is remarkably common as the aluminum is notoriously thin, and most examples were raced extensively in-period. Further, the bodies are known to deteriorate at the mounting points where the aluminum meets steel. As a result, almost all lightweight examples have been reskinned or repaired at some point, though notes from this car’s 1975 restoration illustrate only minor aluminum stress repairs inside the engine bay. The quality of Russell’s work was immediately substantiated when the car was named the “Best Gullwing” at the Gullwing Group’s 1980 National Meeting.
The car was then acquired by Hyatt Cheek, then the director-at-large on the Mercedes-Benz Club of America’s National Board. He was soon elected national president of the MBCA (1984-1986) and a well-known owner of many fine examples of Mercedes-Benz’s best model. He regularly drove it to MBCA and Gullwing Group events all over the country and completed several iterations of the famous Colorado Grand and Texas 1000 road rallies, in addition to those driving tours organized by the MBCA and Gullwing Group.
After three decades of storied ownership by one of America’s foremost marque enthusiasts, this Alloy Gullwing was acquired by the consignor in 2014. Cheek’s longtime stewardship is, indeed, par for the course for these special cars and a much-confirmed sentiment of this incredible model’s supreme usability and exhilarating performance.
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Results at Public Auction
Around 1400 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwings were produced, which makes the regular million-dollar results at public auction somewhat surprising. However, the car has always been popular and its iconic design is instantly recognizable.
At least 75 Gullwings were sold at public auction for over a million dollars since 2014. The model record for a non-alloy Gullwing is $2,530,000 paid at RM Auctions Monterey 2014 sale. Only a handful sold for over $2 million and no alloy versions were sold at a recent public auction.
The estimate of $7,000,000 to $9,000,000 clearly aims at a model record result. For the smaller budget, RM Sotheby’s and Barrett-Jackson both will have a standard Gullwing on offer at Scottsdale 2022, and almost any major classic car auction later in the year will feature one if good prices are obtained in Arizona.
Scottsdale and Arizona Car Auctions 2022
Scottsdale & Arizona Sales 2022 — Auction Results:
- RM Sotheby’s Arizona Sale 2022 — Auction Results
- Bonhams Scottsdale Sale 2022 — Auction Results
- Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2022 — Auction Results
- Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2022 — Charity Lots Results
- Gooding Geared Online Scottsdale 2022 — Auction Results
Scottsdale & Arizona Sales 2022 — Auction Previews:
Scottsdale & Arizona Sales 2022 — Pre-Auction Announcements:
- Barrett-Jackson: Shelby Cars
- Barrett-Jackson: Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing
- RM Sotheby’s: Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing
- RM Sotheby’s: American Prewar Classics (Duesenberg Model J Tourster)
- RM Sotheby’s: Mercedes-Benz 300 SLs
- RM Sotheby’s: Tenebaum Porsches
Scottsdale & Arizona Sales 2021 — Auction Results
- 2021 Scottsdale, Arizona, January Auctions Results Overview
- Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale March 2021 Auction Results
- Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale March 2021 Charity Lots Auction Results
- Bonhams Scottsdale 2021 Auction Results
- Gooding Scottsdale 2021 Auction Results
- RM Sotheby’s Arizona 2021 Auction Results
Scottsdale & Arizona Sales — Previous Auction Results
- 2020: Gooding, RM Sotheby’s, Barrett-Jackson & Barrett-Jackson (Charity Lots).
- 2019 Scottsdale Auctions Results Overview
- 2018 Scottsdale Auctions Results Overview
- 2017 Scottsdale Auctions Results Overview
- 2016: Barrett-Jackson, Gooding, RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams
- 2015 Scottsdale Results Overview
- 2014 Scottsdale & Arizona Collector Car Auction Results
Scottsdale & Arizona Auctions 2022
Many auction houses have sales (live, online, or a combination) during the annual Scottsdale week in mid-late January, including amongst others:
- Barett-Jackson: 22 to 30 January 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona — live auction.
- Bonhams: 27 January 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona — live auction.
- Gooding & Company: 26 – 28 January 2022 — online auction but cars on display in Scottsdale (and Van Nuys, California, 18 – 21 January).
- RM Sotheby’s: 27 January 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona — live auction.
- Russo and Steele: 26 – 30 January 2022 in Scottsdale — live auction.
- Worldwide Auctioneers: 26 – 27 January 2022 in Scottsdale — live auction.