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1955 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing No Sale at $1.1M at Keno Brothers New York Collector Car Auction

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1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing Strawberry red metallic Keno Brothers Auction
Keno brothers, Leigh and Leslie, known to most from their many years as appraisers on the PBS Emmy Award winning ‘Antiques Roadshow’ program held their first collector car auction in New York on Thursday, November 19, 2015. This 1955 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing in Strawberry Red Metallic was a no sale at a high bid of $1.1 million against a pre sale auction estimate of $1,275,000 – $1,575,000.
This particular 300SL was described as a ‘matching numbers’ car (numbers on the car match the numbers on the original Mercedes-Benz build card) and was owned by the same person for the past 40 years. It had a handful of things going for it in terms of collectibility including its original, factory Rudge wheels and a full set of original belly pans. According to the auction catalog it has been maintained by Paul Russell and Company.

Black leather interior, original to the car, showing the patina one would expect from a 60 year old car.

The car retains its original black leather interior, showing a nice patina, the exterior is an older color change repaint that is showing its age. The car was originally delivered to its first owner in California wearing Beige (DB 1570) paint. The car is believed to have had just 4 owners, the most recent, a collector in Maine who owned the car for the past 40 years. At some point the car was painted in Strawberry Red Metallic, a factor color that was offered on 300SLs in period. The repaint was done some time ago as it clearly shows its age.

Older Strawberry Red Metallic repaint cracking and crazing.

It does appear that the car was driven and enjoyed as it shows evidence of rock chips and overall wear, inside and out.

The Keno brothers should be commended by their detailed, macro level photos included in the online auction catalog. One really gets the sense that they wanted to present the cars in the sale truthfully and in an straightforward manner. Not every auction house takes close up photos of the flaws on their cars they’re selling.


Decently clean engine bay reflects a well sorted, driver quality car.

The $1,100,000 seemed like enough for a driver quality car with an older, color change repaint in today’s market. Often referred to at the ‘gold standard’ of the collector car market, there is no doubt 300 SLs are desirable cars. To sell a car a seller with a realistic expectation of the market must find a buyer willing to shell out the money they’re looking for and on this particular day, those two parties had different ideas as to what this 1955 300SL was worth. Auction watchers must remember that the Keno brother’s auction charges a 12% buyer’s premium. So a $1.1 million dollar high bid translates to a final price for the buyer of $1,232,000, fair money for the car from where I’m sitting. On the other hand, time does seem to be on the side of the seller, there will always be collectors looking for 300SLs and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this one at another high dollar collector car auction sooner than later.

Results of their first foray into the collector car auction scene surely fell short of the brother’s expectations with just under a 50% sell through rate on the day of the sale. Of course, deals will probably be put together on some cars post-block in the coming days and weeks, raising the sale rate. While the house was packed with auction watchers, it didn’t seem like there were enough real bidders interested in spending their money to make this one a huge success. Read our complete report on the Keno Brother’s NY auction by visiting this article: “Keno Brothers New York Collector Car Auction A Good First Effort, Mixed Results, Room to Grow”

The Kenos will hold their second collector car auction in June as they have been named the official auction house of “The Elegance at Hershey” Concours d’Elegance. The sale will take place Saturday, June 11, 2016 in Hershey, PA.


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