A rare Mercedes-Benz racing car company known as the Mona Lisa has sold a record £ 115 million.
The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Wohlenhaut coupe, one of only two variants, is a sister car of the racing legend Sir Sterling Moss’s record-breaking open cockpit 300 SLR, which crossed 992 miles in ten hours, seven minutes and 48 seconds. The road
The car was sold to a private collector, the classic car auction house RM Sotheby’s said in a statement, € 135 million (£ 114 million), almost three times the previous record auction price for a car, which was set in 2018 to 1962 Ferrari 250 The GTO has spent more than $ 48 million (£ 37 million).
The invitation-only auction took place on May 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. RM Sotheby’s says the high price of the car puts it in the “top ten most valuable items sold at auction in any collection category”.
The sale was rewarded for the perseverance shown by British expert Simon Kidston, who for 18 months lobbied the German company’s board to sell the car “which will never be sold”. Kidston’s 5 135 million bid secured the car for an unnamed collector.
“It has always been assumed that Mercedes would never part with a crown jewel in his company’s collection. Because of its rarity, racing pedigree, beauty and unavailability, the car is considered the Mona Lisa,” Kidston said.
The 300 SLR coupe, known for its unusual lines and butterfly doors, was modeled after the W196 R Grand Prix race car, which won two Formula 1 World Championships in 1954 and 1955, with Juan Manuel Fungio of Argentina in the driver’s seat.
Named after its creator and chief engineer, Rudolf Wohlenhout, the car is a development of the open two-seater sports-racing car, built by Mercedes for the 1955 season and driven by Grand Prix giants such as Moss, Fangio and Peter Collins.
Moss’s record drive at Mill Miglia in 1955 has been described as one of the greatest achievements of motor racing, when he and his navigator Dennis Jenkinson won a 1,000-mile endurance race on a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR at an average speed of 99mph.
Kidston said that although the coupe’s design at the auction shared styling hints with the famous 300 SL “Gulwing” road car, “there was almost no discount in terms of practicality, as none were intended to be sold to individual clients”.
The 300 SLR coupe was not even raced, although they were used for practice.
A road test conducted jointly by the British magazine Autocar and the Swiss magazine Automobile Review in 1956 stated: “Remember that this car is not for sale, and will never be in this shape: it is a racing car adapted for road use with some experimental purpose. See … it has to be mastered like a fine horse. “
Commenting on the transaction, Kidston said: “The long-standing relationship with the Mercedes-Benz Museum helped, but after 18 months of patient care we did not know if they would consider releasing 300 SLRs from captivity. This has happened before. For everyone involved, And especially the new owners we’ve represented, it’s a one-time opportunity to buy a car Mona Lisa. “
RM Sotheby’s said the proceeds from the auction would be used to establish a global Mercedes-Benz fund that would fund environmental science and decarbonization research.