Epic barn find: Alloy-bodied 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

Over the years, Rudi Koniczek and his team at British Columbia-based shop, Rudi and Company, has restored around 100 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL models, so he knows a thing or two about the cars. He also knew that all but one of the 29 alloy-bodied gullwing models made had been accounted for. For almost twenty years, Rudi had heard constant rumours of the ‘missing’ car existing in Santa Monica, California, and never gave up hope, eventually tracking it down.

The car’s owner, Tom Wellmer, had received the 1955 model as a graduation gift, driving it until the seventies before taking it off road due to a transmission fault, with a view to fixing it up at a later date. Other things took priority in Tom’s life, so the project was shelved, resulting in the gullwing’s forced hibernation.

It took Rudi, and a few helpers, two solid days of shifting forty years’ worth of junk – mainly old computers – out of the garage before they could walk around it. At that point, they realised that they were witnessing something rarer than a photo of Rihanna – fully clothed.

“I took a magnet out of my wallet and ran it over the car and it didn’t stick. Then I knew it was an alloy body and it had to be the missing car with body number 21,” recalls a delighted Rudi, adding, “This is the ultimate garage find and may be one of the great finds ever in the collector car world”.

Restoration of this rarity will begin next year at Koniczek’s workshop, with the new – and only the second – owner entrusting Rudi with the task of restoring the gullwing back to ‘as new’ condition. The price paid has not been disclosed, but don’t expect much change from $2,500,000 if you want a tidy one.

The regular 300 SL’s bodyshell was mainly steel – except for the aluminum bonnet, doors and boot lid. When specified with an outer skin constructed completely from aluminium, it weighed 80 kg (176 lb) less than its steel counterpart. The fitment of Plexiglas windows also helped with the reduction in weight.

[Source: Hemmings]

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