1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
1957 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing
Commission Number 856 345
Delivery Number 11344
Chassis Number 198.040 7500077
Engine Number 198.980 7500072
Body Number A198.040 7500074
Gearbox Number 7500079
Steering Box Number 7500076
Right Front Axle Number 7500086
Left Front Axle Number 7500086
Rear Axle Number 7500055
Rear Axle Ratio 3.64:1
Engine Compression Ratio 8.5:1
Ignition Static Timing 28 Degrees
Exterior Color DB 534 (Fire Engine Red)
Interior Trim 953 (Special Order Black Leather)
Completed May, 1957
Shipped May 7th, 1957
Sold June, 1957
Ordered New By Studebaker Packard, South Bend, Indiana
Options -3.64:1 Final Drive Ratio & Calibrated Speedometer in Miles Per Hour
-Wheel Balancing Protractor and Selection of Various Wheel Weights
-Front and Rear Bumper Over-Rider Bars
-External Mirror, Body-Mounted, Left-Side
-Becker Mexico Signal Seeking Radio, Speakes & Amplifier
-Automatic External Power Antenna, Body-Mounted, Right-Side
-6.5 x 15, Continental Tires
-USA Sealed Beam Headlights
-Windscreen Wipers and Washing Equipment
-Steering Column, Stalk Control High & Low Beam Light Dipping Switch
-Instrument Labels and Calibration in English with English Units
-“Made In Western Germany” Badge
-Ocean Shipping with Special Made Wood Ocean Crating
-Special Ordered Black Leather Upholstery
Mileage 74,279 Miles
Ownership History 1957 George Mennen Montclair, New Jersey (21 Years)
1978 Joseph M. Stoyak Springfield, Massachusetts (30 Years)
2008 David P. Zagaroli Hickory, North Carolina
2010 Tom Rossiter Gladstone, New Jersey
2010 Orin R. Smith Vero Beach, Florida
2017 Symbolic International San Diego, California
240 bhp, 2,992cc SOHC inline six-cylinder engine with Bosch mechanical fuel injection, four-speed manual transmission, coil-spring independent front suspension, coil-spring and swing-axle rear suspension, with four-wheel “Al-fin” hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.
300SL Gullwing Background:
All 1400 examples of Mercedes Benz's legendary 300SL Gullwing produced from 1954 until 1957 are special, there are however a few that truly stand out and they are regarded as a bit more special than the rest... The most important of these are the 29 examples completed with all alloy bodies followed by the highly coveted 70 examples produced in the final production year, 1957. Like the 1954, 55 and 1956 models, these used standard steel bodies with alloy bonnet, deck lid and doors. What make an original 1957 300SL so special is the extremely low production numbers of those built. Various sites and sources quote 79 examples being built in 1957 and others 73, but a close examination of the original Factory assembly record “Data Cards” confirms that the first 1957 300SL Gullwing built was chassis number 7500007 and the final example was chassis number 7500079. This would indicate 73 examples being built but three of these, chassis numbers, 7500037, 7500038 and 7500062 were all prototype 300SL Roadsters assembled as Gullwing production was coming to an end.
Chassis Number 198.040 7500077:
• Original, Ultra-Rare 1957 Final Production Year 300SL Gullwing
• The third from last 300 SL Gullwing built and one of just 70 examples produced in 1957
• One of Just Four 1957 Production Models Delivered New in Fire Engine Red with a Black Leather Interior
• Known history from new with only four previous Owners
• Wonderful originality and authenticity throughout
• Matching numbers
• Completely Rust and Accident Free
• Long-term maintenance for previous owners by the noted Gullwing Specialist, Paul Russell & Company
• Complete with manuals and original tools
• All services and Safety Checks Completely Current and Up to Date
All good things must come to an end and in the Spring of 1957 Hoffman Motors in New York and Studebaker / Packard in South Bend, Indiana, the new distributor for 300SLs in the States were given notice that no more orders for the Gullwing would be taken. The dealerships told their sales folks and individual clients that orders would be cancelled if not switched to the new Roadster that was being built alongside the last of the legendary Gullwings. In fact the original Mercedes Factory Assembly Data Cards for each of the 70, 300SL Gullwings built in 1957 record that each example was completed as a special wish / special order vehicle per individual client's requirements. It seems more than a few loyal hold-outs greatly preferred the original, innovative and unique Gullwing over the new Roadsters and orders were processed at least until the end of April and possibly early May of 1957 before production finally ended.
As noted above, there is a fair amount of confusion regarding just how many 1957 300SL Gullwings were completed. The very last chassis number assigned and last example delivered new was s/n 7500079. Many assumed that this meant a total of 79 examples were completed. Production actually started with 7500007 and three of the assigned chassis numbers in this sequence were completed as prototype 300SL Roadsters. The actual total number of 1957 300SL Gullwings completed was just 70 units for 70 very, very lucky clients!
Chassis number 7500077 was the third to last example completed and one of just four examples ordered and delivered new that final production year in DB534, “Fire Engine Red” with code 953, a black leather interior. 7500077 was ordered with special softer grade leather for the interior and a variety of other options. Being destined for the North American Market, it was completed with USA sealed-beam headlights and gauges calibrated and indicating in US / English units. The order further specified the installation of a Becker Mexico Signal Seeking Radio with Loud Speaker, Amplifier and an external automatic power antenna that was body mounted on the right fender. The opposite fender was fitted with an optional external rear view mirror. A very rare option included with this 300SL was the installation of a steering column left-side stalk, opposite of the right side turn signal stalk. The left side stalk actuated the high and low beam lights depending on which way it was moved in order to signal and flash on-coming traffic.
The assembly of this 300SL Gullwing, like all late production examples built in 1957 utilized a variety of pre-assembled, off-the-shelf components that had been built and gathered in the months leading up to the actual production of the vehicle itself. All five of the original standard “Typ. S562C 5Kx14-B-BLM KPZ” wheels are date coded July and August of 1956. These are the oldest found components on this particular 300SL. Almost all of the engine, gearbox, suspension and axle components have date codes from December of 1956. The engine itself was cast on December 30th, 1956 and the sump cover plated also bares the date code, December 1956. Actual assembly of the vehicle itself was initiated under “Kommission” number “856 345.” Recorded at the time of construction on the Factory Records are the following individually assigned component numbers:
Chassis Number 7500077
Engine Number 7500072
Body Number 7500074
Gearbox Number 7500079
Steering Box Number 7500076
Right Front Axle Number 7500086
Left Front Axle Number 7500086
Rear Axle Number 7500055
Fast forward 60 years nearly to the day this vehicle was completed and a careful inspection reveals that each and every one of these assigned and “born with” components remains fitted to this day, a fairly remarkable point of interest to say the least given the nature of machinery, failure rates and repairs over the years that could have easily seen one or more of these sub-components removed and replaced with one from another vehicle or an un-numbered replacement spare assembly sourced directly from Mercedes Benz.
7500077 was finished and ready for shipping in the first week of May, 1957 and the Factory Records record that under delivery number “11344” this vehicle was dispatched and shipped to the States on May 7th, 1957. The final option ordered for this 300SL was a special ocean shipping wooden crate to protect this new Gullwing on her voyage to the States. Delivery to her new owner took place sometime in mid June of 1957. The lucky recipient was Mr. George Mennen of Montclair, New Jersey. Mr. Mennen was a remarkable and innovative individual who inherited a very successful and famous family mens care product business that had been started by his Grandfather, Gerhard Heinrich Mennen in 1878. Mennen men's and later woman's skin and hygiene products were well-known the world over and under George Mennen's stewardship, the company prospered greatly and expanded into a variety of new markets beginning in the 1950s and not ending until the company was finally sold in 1992 to the Colgate Corporation. George Mennen was not the only famous member of the Mennen family, His brother distinguished himself greatly as a Naval Officer in World War II, After the war he ventured into politics, eventually becoming Governor of Michigan from 1949 until 1961. He also sought the vice-presidency of the United States, was later appointed Ambassador of the Philippines and even appeared on the Cover of Time Magazine.
After 21 years of caring ownership, In 1978 the Mennen family sold their prized 300SL Gullwing to Joseph M. Stoyak of Springfield, Massachusetts. It was at this time that this 300SL came under the long-term care and service by noted specialist, Paul Russel & Company of Essex, Massachusetts. Over the next 30 years, Mr. Stoyak entrusted all necessary repairs and services exclusively to their firm, something that clearly benefited both the vehicle itself and Mr. Stoyak. During his long ownership, due to a careful regiment of regular services and planned maintenance as well as fair weather use only, this 300SL never required a restoration or refurbishment. Regular servicing, repairs and overhaul as well as one repaint and a recovering of the seats was all that was needed to keep this 300SL in perfect running original condition.
After 30 years of trouble-fee ownership, this treasured Gullwing was sold to the well-known Industrial Designer, Mr. David Zagaroli of Hickory, North Carolina. Mr. Zagaroli is most well known for his Zagaroli & Company and Zagaroli Furniture business which were initially founded in 1970. In 2012, his son Charlie Zagaroli developed from the original businesses ZAGCO Design, a highly respected industrial and commercial design firm still based in Hickory, North Carolina. The Zagaroli family ownership of this 300SL ended in 2010 when it passed initially to Tom Rossiter's The Stable Ltd., of Gladstone, New Jersey a prominent classic car dealership founded by Tom in 1973. During Tom's brief tenure with this Gullwing, it was again entrusted to Paul Russel & Company for thorough and complete servicing and care before passing onto the collection of Orin Smith in Vero Beach Florida. The car continued as it had for the previous 32 years to be cared for and serviced regularly by Paul Russel & Company and most recently this 300SL received major services by Tamburr Motorcars of Melbourne, Florida which also including a full rebuilding the brake system and rear axle assembly.
Chassis Number 198.040 7500077 Today:
Over the past 25-plus years no fewer than 70 different 300SL Roadsters and Gullwings have come our way and passed through our hands. I have been very fortunate to be able to inspected and drive these very special machines and I always welcomed each and everyone that comes our way eagerly. The years and so many different examples leave me barely able to remember the specifics of most of them without checking back to my data base and photo archives. Just a few of these stand out as true automotive treasures. The four different Alloy-Bodied Gullwings are most fondly remembered as was a Factory prepared, client racer than participated in two different Mille Miglias, the Targa Florio and several other important races. While many, many different Roadsters and Gullwings have come and gone, our company has never before owned an original 1957 production model. It is rather remarkable if you think about it. It has been easier for our company to buy and later sell four different alloy Gullwing than it was to source, find and buy and original 1957 model!
My initial inspections and impression of 7500077 was that this vehicle was not only something truly special but a machine worth working very hard to acquire and with good reason. The records and documentation were incredibly detailed, extensive and complete going back to new. No missing dates or gaps in ownership and it was clear, each owner from day one recognized the importance and special nature of this vehicle and treated it as such. The vehicle itself carries a distinct presence and nature of a fine machine that has been serviced and cared for regularly, exercised often and preserved and conserved befitting a treasured machine of great value. Body panel fit and finish is far above average and indicates clearly that it has never been damaged, modified or altered. The vehicles has both a correct ride height and all trim, chrome and bright-work fits smoothly, flush and straight. The interior detailing shows that other than the recovering of the seats, it has never been altered, changed or modified since new. It was extremely inviting and I was very eager for my first drives after the completion of safety checks and service verifications. Upon arrival in our shop and showroom complex in San Diego we completed cold compression checks with the following results:
Cylinder Pounds per Square Inch
The engine bay area, other than a couple of hose clamps shows an incredibly correct and undisturbed display of correct finishes and features of the classic 3.0-liter, SOHC, fuel-injected, in-line six-cylinder engine. The engine number, engine tag, compression ratio stampings, cylinder head stampings and engine and head date codes confirm the incredible original and un-mollested nature of the power plant. The numbers all match the original assembly records as does the steering box stamping. The firewall mounted chassis plate and paint tag are correct and original and not the more common reproduction units. Same for the frame tag and delicate stamped in chassis number on the left-front dumb-iron.
After getting this 300SL carefully up in the air on one of our service racks, I was able to clean off and access the front and rear axle stamped in numbers, gearbox number and final drive ratios, all of which again matched the original assembly records for the vehicle. There is absolutely no sign of corrosion anywhere or any signs of accident damage. The 300SL is very easy to damage if incorrectly jacked up and all of the fragile and delicate areas that are usually damaged from improper jacking are pristine on this example… another clear indication that it was not only cared for carefully but done so always by someone who knew what they were doing. After the completion of safety checks and service verifications, it was time for test drives and an opportunity to photograph this very special machine. Start up was effortless and in under a minute, I was able to push the choke lever all the way in to the off position and also switch off the electric fuel pump. The idle was perfect and the car and absolute and total delight to drive. I made several high-speed runs on the local free way and then up the grade into the hills of the Famous Torrey Pines where many Gullwing raced in the mid 1950s. It was an extremely foggy day and perfect conditions for photographing a bright red automobile. Once my photo session was over, it was time to head back to the showroom but not before another run through the hills, down our local freeway and then, sadly back to our showroom and shop complex in Sorrento Valley.
This incredible and very rare 300SL is now back on display in our main San Diego Showroom and available for inspections, test drives and the chance to please a new fortunate custodian greatly.
Please call, text or email me if I can assist further in anyway with the potential purchase of this vehicle.