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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Mercedes 1956 SLR 300 coupe reportedly sold at a secret auction for £115m

EconomyMercedes 1956 SLR 300 coupe reportedly sold at a secret auction for £115m


The bar for the most expensive car to ever change hands has been significantly raised in the last few days, if rumours are to be believed.

Mercedes-Benz is said to have parted with one of its treasured Silver Arrows for a reported £115million (€135million) at an invite-only auction held behind closed doors in Germany this month, according to classic car market insiders at Hagerty.

The motor in question is believed to be a 1956 300 SLR, which is one of just two built.

The German car maker has refused to confirm the sale, though if true the purchase price is more than double the figure paid for the former most expensive motor in history.

Is the Mercedes SLR 300 Coupe the most expensive car ever? According to reports, one of the two hard-top sports cars built has been sold at a secret auction for a staggering £115million - more than double the price of the former record price for a car

Is the Mercedes SLR 300 Coupe the most expensive car ever? According to reports, one of the two hard-top sports cars built has been sold at a secret auction for a staggering £115million – more than double the price of the former record price for a car

The previous record price for a car is believed to be a sum of £52million for a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO bought privately in 2018. 

It was reportedly purchased by American businessman David MacNeil from German racing driver Christian Glaesel, who had owned the car for 15 years – though because it was a private sale, the record price has never officially been rubberstamped.

The most expensive ‘confirmed’ sale price for a car is for another Ferrari 250 GTO bought in 2018, which sold at RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale in California that year, with the hammer dropping at $48.4million (£37.5million). 

If the rumoured Mercedes sale price is accurate then it is three times the all-time auction record.

The ultra-rare SLR 300 Coupe is claimed to have changed hands at an invite-only event conducted by a renowned auction house and hosted by Mercedes-Benz at its museum in Stuttgart the last week. Here is one of the cars pictured at Goodwood in 2013

The ultra-rare SLR 300 Coupe is claimed to have changed hands at an invite-only event conducted by a renowned auction house and hosted by Mercedes-Benz at its museum in Stuttgart the last week. Here is one of the cars pictured at Goodwood in 2013

The motor believed to have set a new world record as the priciest car is believed to be a 1956 300 SLR, which is one of just two built (one of the cars pictured)

The motor believed to have set a new world record as the priciest car is believed to be a 1956 300 SLR, which is one of just two built (one of the cars pictured)

The SLR 300 Coupe is powered by a roaring 3.0-litre straight eight-cylinder engine that produces a claimed 310bhp and top speed in the region of 180mph. It uses a lightweight aluminium body and features Mercedes' iconic gullwing doors

The SLR 300 Coupe is powered by a roaring 3.0-litre straight eight-cylinder engine that produces a claimed 310bhp and top speed in the region of 180mph. It uses a lightweight aluminium body and features Mercedes’ iconic gullwing doors

The previous record price for a car is believed to be a sum of £52million for this 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO bought privately in 2018

Pictured: The most expensive'confirmed' sale price for a car is for another Ferrari 250 GTO bought in 2018 , which sold at RM Sotheby's Monterey sale in California that year, with the hammer dropping at $48.4million (£37.5million)

The previous record price for a car is believed to be a sum of £52m for a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO bought privately in 2018 (left).  The most expensive ‘confirmed’ sale price for a car is for another Ferrari 250 GTO (right) bought in 2018, which sold at RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale in California that year, with the hammer dropping at £37.5m

The ultra-rare Silver Arrows is claimed to have changed hands at an invite-only event conducted by a renowned auction house and hosted by Mercedes-Benz at its museum in Stuttgart the last week.

1956 Mercedes-Benz SLR 300 Coupe specs 

Built: 1956 Units: 2

Engine: 3.0-litre, straight 8-cylinder petrol

Power: 310bhp @7,400rpm

Torque: 229 lbft @5,950rpm

Top speed: 178mph 

Transmission: 5-speed manual gearbox

Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel drive

Body: Aluminium

Doors:

Dimensions

Length: 4.30m Width: 1.74m  Height: 1.21m

Kerb weight: 1,117kg

Hagerty says a shortlist of around 10 uber-rich car enthusiasts were hand-picked to attend the sale to ensure only those with suitable wealth were there to bid on one of its finest creations.

Invitees are also believed to be long-standing customers and known collectors of classic Mercedes models, and therefore have the understanding of how to care for such a rare piece of four-wheeled history.

It is also believed that buyers had to agree to continue taking the car to events and displays in the future – and not to sell it in for a designated period of time.

These potential buyers are believed to have been flown to the sale by private jet on 6 May, with the museum doors closed for the entirety of that day while the auction took place.

Hagerty says it has approached both Mercedes-Benz and the auction house – which it will not name – to confirm the event, with both declining to comment on the record-busting figure.   

The reported record-price car is believed to be one of only two SLR 300 Coupes built in 1956 as hardtop versions of the roofless racing car Sir Stirling Moss drove to victory at the 1955 Mille Miglia – arguably his most famous crown.

The SLR 300 Coupe is powered by a roaring 3.0-litre straight eight-cylinder engine that produces a claimed 310bhp and top speed in the region of 180mph.

It uses a lightweight aluminium body and features Mercedes’ iconic gullwing doors.

It is the car that inspired Mercedes to work with McLaren in the early noughties to create the iconic SLR supercar range, which included a convertible 722 Edition (the famed race number of the Moss car at Mille Miglia) and the SLR Stirling Moss – a roofless speedster without a windscreen, of which 75 were created in the legendary British racer’s name.

The SLR 300 Coupes are hardtop versions of the roofless racing car Sir Stirling Moss drove to victory at the 1955 Mille Miglia - arguably his most famous crown (pictured)

The SLR 300 Coupes are hardtop versions of the roofless racing car Sir Stirling Moss drove to victory at the 1955 Mille Miglia – arguably his most famous crown (pictured)

After racing for 993 miles at an average speed of 98mph, Moss and navigator Denis Jenkinson won the 22nd Mille Miglia in the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR

After racing for 993 miles at an average speed of 98mph, Moss and navigator Denis Jenkinson won the 22nd Mille Miglia in the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR

The 1955 Mille Miglia victory is still considered Sir Stirling Moss' greatest win. The average speed achieved in the'722' car (which stands for the time he set off in the endurance race) was a record and he became one of only two non-Italian drivers to take victory in event's 23-year history

The 1955 Mille Miglia victory is still considered Sir Stirling Moss’ greatest win. The average speed achieved in the ‘722’ car (which stands for the time he set off in the endurance race) was a record and he became one of only two non-Italian drivers to take victory in event’s 23-year history

The 1956 SLR 3000 Coupe is the car that inspired Mercedes to work with McLaren in the early noughties to create the iconic SLR supercar range. The last variant, launched in 2019, was called the SLR Stirling Moss and was a speedster with no roof or windows

The 1956 SLR 3000 Coupe is the car that inspired Mercedes to work with McLaren in the early noughties to create the iconic SLR supercar range. The last variant, launched in 2019, was called the SLR Stirling Moss and was a speedster with no roof or windows

The 1956 SLR 3000 Coupe (left) pictured outside Goodwood House in 2013 next to an SLS AMG GT (right), which was is another modern-era Mercedes sports car that was heavily influenced by the classic model

The 1956 SLR 3000 Coupe (left) pictured outside Goodwood House in 2013 next to an SLS AMG GT (right), which was is another modern-era Mercedes sports car that was heavily influenced by the classic model

While the original cars were designed in 1955 with the intention to compete in endurance events, neither were raced.

That’s because the coupe was under development when motorsport’s most tragic crash occurred, which is the darkest day in Mercedes-Benz’s history.

Disaster struck during the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 11 June 1955 – one month after Moss’ famous win in Italy. 

While occupying first and second place, one of the team cars collided with an Austin Healy on the start-finish straight and was propelled into the crowd, killing 83 spectators and injuring another 100.

The devastating accident sparked Mercedes’ retirement from racing for the next three decades, with the Silver Arrows only officially returning to the track in 1989.

The pair of prototype cars then under development were completed in 1956, despite there being no intention for them to be raced.

The original SLR 300 Coupe widely became known in the classic car world as the'Uhlenhaut Coupes'. That's because Rudolf Uhlenhaut, the boss of Mercedes’ Test Department, used one as a company car - as seen pictured here

The original SLR 300 Coupe widely became known in the classic car world as the ‘Uhlenhaut Coupes’. That’s because Rudolf Uhlenhaut, the boss of Mercedes’ Test Department, used one as a company car – as seen pictured here

The 300 SLR Coupe was the fastest known closed-roof vehicle in 1956 and is said to have hit its maximum speed of 178mph during frequent autobahn runs

The 300 SLR Coupe was the fastest known closed-roof vehicle in 1956 and is said to have hit its maximum speed of 178mph during frequent autobahn runs

Hagerty says a shortlist of around 10 uber-rich car enthusiasts were hand-picked to attend the auction to ensure only those with suitable wealth were there to bid on one of its finest creations

Hagerty says a shortlist of around 10 uber-rich car enthusiasts were hand-picked to attend the auction to ensure only those with suitable wealth were there to bid on one of its finest creations

They widely became known in the classic car world as the ‘Uhlenhaut Coupes’.

That’s because Rudolf Uhlenhaut, the boss of Mercedes’ Test Department, used one as a company car. 

The 300 SLR Coupe was the fastest known closed-roof vehicle at the time and is said to have hit its maximum speed of 178mph during frequent autobahn runs. 

While neither coupe ever raced during their period, they have made numerous public appearances since, including a hair-raising hill-climb run at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed Media Day, piloted by German racing driver, Jochen Mass. 

Hagerty sources believe the coveted car sold for a record sum is chassis number 0008/55 – the second of the 300 SLR Coupes built.

‘Rumours abound as to the identity of the buyer, with some suggesting it is a well-known figure from Britain’s automotive industry and a long-standing collector of specialist cars,’ Hagerty says. 

‘With interest rates rising rapidly, this purchase could be seen as a wise investment for someone with the means,’ it added.

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