Two Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing models offered at Artcurial’s Monaco classic car sale found new homes. The 38,000-mile Gullwing carrying options of an NSL camshaft and Rudge knock-off wheels sold for €1,416,000, exceeding its €1.2-1.4M estimate and setting the top price of the auction. A recently restored 300SL Roadster sold for €858,240 against an estimate of €800,000-€1M.

Mercedes Gullwing history

With a tubular chassis, six-cylinder, direct injection engine, dry sump, finned Alfin brakes, independent suspension and streamlined body, the Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing was shaped on the race track. The gullwing doors which gave it its name were driven by a chassis running high on the sides to maximise its strength. This design constraint created a legend.

Mercedes engineers huddled over their drawing boards while Europe was booming economically, but it was American importer, Max Hoffman, who called for a top of the range sports car capable of meeting the demand of his wealthiest customers. Even before the Gullwing appeared, Hoffman put in a firm order for several hundred examples before the 300 SL Gullwing was unveiled at the 1954 New York Motor Show.

Famous Gullwing owners include Pablo Picasso, the Shah of Iran, Clark Gable, Tony Curtis, King Hussein of Jordan and more. In 1956, a 300 SL cost 5.4 million francs, against 1.6 million francs for a Porsche 356 1600 Super. As for performance, the 300 SL totally dominated the road, covering 0-60 in under 9 seconds. As ‘Autosport’ put it: “The appearance of the 300 SL is fabulous and its performance is almost incredible.”

Bugatti Type 57 prices half those of Mercedes Gullwing models

The 1939 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet from the Volante Collection – known as one of the ‘Bordeaux Orphans’ – sold €100k below bottom estimate at €500,640. The Orphans were five unsold but fully assembled chassis that were moved to Bugatti’s new factory in Bordeaux just prior to the outbreak of war.

During the 1940s, this car, chassis ‘57780’/engine 546, was fitted with the unique 4-seater cabriolet body from chassis 57757/52C and displayed at the 1938 Paris Motor Show. After joining the seller’s collection in 2014, it was treated to an award-winning two-year restoration by René Grosse.

Other highlights from the classic car sale at Monaco by the rather choosy Artcurial auction house included a three-owner 1966 De Tomaso Vallelunga which sold for €321,840, a 1972 Alfa Romeo Montreal with little use since a €40,000 restoration easily exceeded its conservative guide price of €45-65k at €73,904 including premium and a 31,000-kilometre Ferrari F40 from 1990 made a mid-estimate €959,560.