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Mercedes Benz 300 SLR Sells for World-record $142.5m

RM Sotheby’s announces sale of the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé.

By Bea Isaacson

In what is being referred to as the most remarkable car auction ever conducted, Sotheby’s, in association with Mercedes-Benz, has announced the sale of a 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé for the record price of €135m ($142.5m) to a private collector. The auction took place on May 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.

The unbelievable figure surpassed the previous record by an estimated $64m, set by a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold in 2018. Notably, the Mercedes 300 SLR was set to break the world record before the auction even began as bidding began above the previous $78m mark.

The car, which is only one of two ever created in 1955 by the Mercedes-Benz racing department, has long been considered one of the crown jewels of motor history. Often considered one of the most beautiful cars in the world, and long celebrated for its automotive engineering and design, the name hails from its creator and then-chief engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, a legend of the industry.

[See also: The Cars Predicted to Go Up Most in Value in 2022]

It made history for being the most expensive car sold to date / © Kidston Motor Cars

The creation of the car was initially inspired by the successful W 196 R Grand Prix model, which won two World Championships. Adding in an enlarged three-leter engine for an enhanced racing ability, the car was capable of 180 mph, which was one of the fastest legal road cars of its time.

Proceeds from the sale will be used to establish the Mercedes-Benz Fund, which endeavors to provide both research and educational scholarships for young people in environmental science and decarbonization. The selling of the car was also aided by the efforts of Simon Kidston, who lobbied Mercedes Benz to send the iconic automobile to auction. And it was Kidston who would eventually submit the winning bid on behalf of one of his clients.

[See also: An Icon Reborn: Rolls-Royce Unveils Phantom Series II]

He said: “If you had asked classic car experts and top collectors over the past half a century to name the most desirable car in the world, there’s a good chance that they would have come up with the same model: the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. It’s a combination of exotic engineering, all-conquering racing history, the power of the three-pointed star on its nose and the fact that one had never, ever been sold. Many collectors had tried, all had failed.

“That was what the entire motoring world thought, but times change, and if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. A long-standing relationship with the Mercedes-Benz Museum helped, but even after 18 months of patient lobbying, we didn’t know if or how they would consider letting the 300 SLR out of captivity until just before it happened. For everyone involved, and especially the new owner whom we represented, this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy the Mona Lisa of cars.”

Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “Uhlenhaut-Coupé” (W 196 S), 1955 / © Mercedes Benz

“We are proud that we can contribute with our historical collection to this initiative connecting the past with the future of engineering and decarbonization technology”, said Marcus Breitschwerdt, head of Mercedes-Benz Heritage.

“The private buyer has agreed that the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé will remain accessible for public display on special occasions, while the second original 300 SLR Coupé remains in company ownership and will continue to be displayed at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.”

Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said: “What an absolute thrill to bring the hammer down on this masterpiece of design and engineering, which now stands shoulder to shoulder with the greatest works of art ever sold. Few ever dreamt that this great jewel of motoring history would ever come for sale, and how fitting that it should happen now, just as we embark on a new and exciting chapter with our partners at RM Sotheby’s.”

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