Luxury Cars

These three vintage Mercedes-Benz cars are up for grabs

The 1903 Mercedes-Simplex 60 HP “Roi des Belges,” the 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster and the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing will all be the star attractions at Amelia Island Auctions. The Mercedes-Simplex 60 HP “Roi des Belges” from 1903 is particularly interesting as it comes onto the market fresh after 121 years of continuous family ownership. The car will also be on display at the upcoming Salon Rétromobile exhibition.

1903 Mercedes-Simplex 60 HP “Roi des Belges” (approximately over $10,000,000)

Image courtesy of Gooding & Company

The Mercedes-Simplex 60 HP is a classic vintage car and was the template for all later automobiles. It was considered the very first super sports car and its design was so ahead of its time that it redefined performance and served as the basis for Mercedes’ cutting-edge technology in its victorious Grand Prix cars as late as 1908. Manufacturers around the world did so by boasting in their advertising that their cars were built “in the style of Mercedes,” as these were the cars that everyone wanted to build, drive and own. His importance, influence and indelible legacy cannot be overstated.

Designed by Wilhelm Maybach and produced by Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) on behalf of Emil Jellinek, the Mercedes-Simplex 60 HP is widely regarded as the first modern high-performance automobile. Powered by a 9.25-liter F-head inline four-cylinder engine that produced a whopping 60 horsepower, the Mercedes could reach speeds of over 80 miles per hour, making it the fastest production car in the world at the turn of the 20th century. The Mercedes-Simplex featured many of the mechanical and engineering advances of its time, including a state-of-the-art chassis with a low center of gravity, a four-speed H-manual transmission, a smooth scroll clutch, a dual-clutch chain drive and honeycomb radiator. Between 1903 and 1905, the Mercedes-Simplex 60 hp dominated the world of racing and won countless speed tests, hill climbs and circuit races. Its unparalleled performance capabilities were most clearly demonstrated at the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup in Ireland, where Belgian racer Camille Jenatzy won the race outright, defeating purpose-built racing machines in a production car supplied to a private customer.

Today the car is still in extremely original condition and the fabulous Rothschild body still features much of the original leather upholstery. This car is one of only four remaining privately owned examples. A fifth example, a long-wheelbase bus, is in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. In addition, the Harmsworth Mercedes is one of only two vehicles of this type that still has the original bodywork intact. Remarkably, this car never changed hands and remained an heirloom in the Harmsworth family for over 120 years. Most importantly, this is the only Mercedes 60hp that has a well-known racing pedigree, and a winning one at that! Offered for sale for the first time in its history, it is one of the most significant cars ever sold at public auction. Gooding & Company has never before offered a car from such long-standing single-family ownership and is honored to present one of the most valuable classic cars ever. This Mercedes Simplex comes from the family of one of England’s most influential figures in modern times and has a documented competition history. It comes to market as one of the most historic, significant and groundbreaking automobiles from the early days of the automobile, setting the stage for a historic moment that will unfold before the world at the upcoming Amelia Island Auctions in March.

1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (approximately between $2,200,000 and $2,800,000)

Image courtesy of Gooding & Company

The iconic 300 SL Roadster needs no introduction as it is one of the most desirable and revered sports cars of all time. Gooding & Company is proud to offer for its upcoming Amelia Island auctions one of the most original and best preserved 300 SLs of any type available, chassis number 198.042.7500348. This extremely rare factory Rudge Wheel Roadster is one of fewer than 30 examples produced and the consignor believes that most of its original paint has been retained, as well as the original interior, soft top and countless other rarely seen details. This roadster only had three owners from the start and remained with its second owner for a remarkable 54 years. The 300 SL in current ownership has undergone a meticulous mechanical restoration carried out by leading 300 SL specialists HK Engineering, who went to great lengths to preserve its original finishes in the engine compartment and other areas. The roadster shines in the color silver gray metallic with interior in red (red leather) and hood in black. The car is accompanied by an original Hepco luggage set as well as manuals, a jack, a tool kit, a second set of date-stamped Rudge wheels, a spare injection pump and a rare factory on-board parts kit. According to a copy of his Mercedes-Benz data card, the engine, body, chassis, steering gear, rear and front axles also have the same numbers. The sheer number of amazing features on this roadster make it an automobile of true historical significance and extreme rarity. This unique Mercedes-Benz will impress anyone lucky enough to see it, and even the most seasoned 300 SL enthusiast will find it well worth a close look.

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing (approximately between $1,600,000 and $1,800,000)

Image courtesy of Gooding & Company

This meticulously maintained 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing comes to Amelia Island with an exceptionally documented history from the beginning and had only two California owners from 1955 to 2023 before being taken over by the consignor. Its first owner was Glen Smith Harman, MD, who drove the car regularly and covered over 130,000 miles by the end of 1967. The doctor cared for his beloved Gullwing as carefully as he did in his profession, keeping exceptional records of services and routine maintenance performed on the vehicle over the decades. The engine was rebuilt in 1973 by local 300 SL expert Rudy Geipel, and in 1986 the Gullwing was repainted in its original DB50 white. After Doctor Harman’s death in 1999, his wife Lillian carefully selected the car’s next caretaker, and in 2003 the Gullwing came into the hands of Robert West, a member of the Gull Wing Group and an accomplished mechanic. West owned the car for the next two decades, enjoying it sparingly at club events. Never before offered for public sale, this Gullwing is a real highlight among the many examples previously seen on the auction stage. It retains the essence of a well-preserved and lovingly cared for 300 SL with extensive Californian provenance from new provenance.

Elements of this article were referenced by Gooding & Company

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