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Bonhams’ Scottsdale Auction to Feature 11 Mercedes Cars – From a 1955 300SL Gullwing to a 2015 SLS AMG GT Roadster

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Bonhams has an impressive array of Mercedes Benz cars scheduled to cross the block at their upcoming Scottsdale, Arizona sale. Each Mercedes in the sale is listed and described below, text from the auction catalog is in italics or quoted below.

Highlights include several 300SLs, two roadsters and a coupe as well as a couple of Pagoda SLs and a 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet and a few modern Mercedes… a 2015 SLS AMG GT Roadster and a 2005 Mercedes McLaren SLR. We’re also beginning to see ‘younger classics’ at the high profile auctions, Bonhams is also offering a 1987 560SL.

Bonhams will get things started on Thursday, January 15th at 9:00am with automobilia with cars beginning to cross the block at 11:00.

Preview Times (Open to the public)
Tuesday, January 13th 9am – 5pm
Wednesday, January 14th 9am – 6pm
Thursday, January 15th 9am – 11am

Admission to Preview & Auction
All Bonhams auctions are open to the public. The Scottsdale Auction Preview and Auction admission fees are:
– $100: Bonhams Scottsdale Catalog Auction Catalog Set (allows two people entry)
– $20: Gallery Guide (allows one person entry)
– $150: Bidder Registration (includes one catalog set, one gallery guide, and entry for two into all preview and auction days)

Complete auction information and the online catalog is available on Bonhams’ website.

Now… on to the cars of the 2015 Scottsdale Sale! (cars appear below in the order in which they’ll appear at the sale)
*All photos courtesy the auction company

Lot 107 – 1987 Mercedes Benz 560SL

This highly original example of the Mercedes-Benz 560SL is believed to have been in California since new. The car’s CARFAX report shows consistent emission inspections in the Palmdale and Pasadena, California regions, and corroborates the mileage of just over 50,000 miles since new. Estimate: $20,000 – $30,000 – No Reserve

We’re beginning to see newer Mercedes SLs appear for sale at these high profile auctions, with some pretty impressive sales results. This car doesn’t appear to be anything spectacular with just over 50,000 miles. Here at the SL Market Letter we’ve been invovled in several 560SL sales over the past year, two of those cars had less than 20,000 miles on them, 50,000 mile 560SLs are not uncommon cars. It will be interesting to see how the venue will affect the price of this car.

Lot 109 – 1969 Mercedes Benz 280SL

As new, it was finished in DB568 Signal Red, with matching hard top, and trimmed with a black MB Tex interior. The 280SL was equipped for the home market, and found its first owner in the Duisburg area, in Germany’s Ruhr region. The car’s early history remains unknown, but at some point the Mercedes-Benz migrated to the United States, where it has remained since. The 280SL’s exterior was finished in the current black, and it is apparent that many mechanical and cosmetic refurbishments have been performed over the years. It should be noted that the car’s engine number does not match the one listed on the factory built records, and suggests that another unit has been installed. Estimate: $90,000 – $120,000 – No Reserve

We’ve seen Pagoda SL prices increase at impressive rates over the past couple of years. 280SLs remain at the top of the heap, however their 250SL and 230SL brethren are keeping pace from a percentage increase standpoint. This 280SL is a color change example which is notable, but doesn’t seem to affect W113 SLs prices too heavily. Pure collectors look for completely original cars, but for a 280SL to drive and enjoy, we see people buying what they like as a driver without much price penalty for color changes or replacement engines, such cars don’t bring prices as high as what a completely original car would however.

Lot 112 – 1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Coupe Gullwing
ex-Rt Hon. Lord O’Neill – Prime Minister of Northern Ireland

Having resided for the past decade in the carefully curated collection of a single and devoted Malibu, California based connoisseur of the finest collector cars, this stunning Gullwing is one of the finest examples we have ever had the pleasure to offer for public sale. Service and maintenance work has been performed by Rene Luteraan’s Van Nuys Sports Cars, and thanks to his efforts, on a recent test drive a Bonhams specialist had the distinct pleasure of experiencing just how well a good 300SL drives.

In 2005, the aging yet original Gullwing became known to renowned 300SL restorer and historian Scott Grundfor. Mr. Grundfor was able to purchase the car from Mr. Wegener on behalf of the current owner, and soon after a full restoration was begun. Photos taken prior the restoration work are present in the car’s history file, and clearly show just how original and complete the Gullwing was. Over the next two and a half years, Mr. Grundfor went through the Gullwing from stem to stern, addressing all mechanical and cosmetic aspects, and finishing it in the factory delivered livery.

Highlights from the auction catalog:
*UK delivery Gullwing owned when new by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
*Professionally restored by Scott Grundfor Company and serviced by Rene Lutheraan
*Matching numbers example finished in its factory delivered livery
*Beautiful example of Mercedes-Benz’s legendary 300SL Gullwing
*Offered with MB Classic Zertifikat, copies of build sheets, books, tools and belly pans

Estimate: $1.3 Million  – $1.6 Million

This is Bonhams’ star Mercedes of the sale (as it appeared in their advertisement in the printed SL Market Newsletter  (Vol. 29 – No. 1 – November / December 2014). This is a well known car with documented history and provenance as well as service / restoration receipts from a known marque expert. This will be an interesting one to watch as it’s of the first ‘blue chip’ 300SLs of 2015.

Lot 115 – 1959 Mercedes Benz 190SL

The 190SL’s early ownership history remains vague, however it is believed to have resided for some years in California where it later formed part of The Blackhawk Collection. An old set of black and yellow California license plates are with the car, suggesting this 190SL might have been in the Golden State since the 1960s.

An extensive restoration has been performed in its past, and it is evident upon close inspection that the work was done to a very high standard. The brilliant red paintwork, as well as the brightwork, shows extremely well, and a thoroughly detailed engine compartment awaits once you open the hood. All rubber gaskets and seals appear to have been replaced, and overall fit and finish throughout is highly impressive. Estimate: US$ 150,000 – 180,000 – No Reserve

The 190SL market continues to be strong, but because the prices of these cars have doubled, tripled, even quadrupled in the past couple of years many of those people with 190SLs wasting away in their garages, back when they were $20,000 and $30,000 cars are getting them out, having them restored (to varying levels of correctness) and everyone believes they have a $100K+ 190SL. There are lots of 190SLs on the market today and it takes a great car to really bring the money as there are plenty to choose from and they were never rare cars with 25,881 cars built between 1955 and 1963.

Lot 120 – Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren

It was delivered new to Illinois where it lived for its first seven years, before its acquisition by an owner in Texas. This is the 305th SLR McLaren built, and is offered with books and service paperwork along with its CARFAX report, which shows no evidence of any accidents or repair work during its lifetime, though there is a mis-recorded odometer reading during a Texas safety inspection in 2013 that is most obviously a clerical error.

In close to showroom condition, this striking supercar begs to be taken out on the open road and enjoyed. Just two owners and less than 2,700 miles from new Estimate: $175,000 – $225,000

I had the pleasure of working with a McLaren SLR, selling it to a gentleman near St. Louis, MO a couple of years ago. The price he paid for a car with about the same mileage was close to the low estimate Bonhams has put forth. These are fascinating cars with carbon fiber bodies and incredibly powerful engines. I believe their styling is a bit out of favor today, only because they aren’t the ‘newest thing’ available from Mercedes-Benz. They are rarer than the SLS AMG cars (and were about twice as expensive when new). If you like modern super cars, my guess is that McLaren SLRs are at about the bottom of their depreciation curve today.

Lot 130 – 1968 Mercedes Benz 280SL

The Pagoda was finished as it appears today, with the exterior and factory hard top finished in DB542 Dark Red and interior in Cognac MB Tex. Destined for the US market, the 280SL arrived on US shores, where it is believed to have been purchased when new by a Mr. B. Schurecht of Barrington, Illinois. Mr. Schurecht is believed to have kept the Mercedes-Benz until 2013. When purchased by the consignor in 2013, the Dark Red Mercedes ‘Pagoda’ had recorded fewer than 89,600 miles on its odometer, and appeared to have been very well kept, remaining in largely original condition throughout.

The Pagoda has since been treated to a high quality repaint in the original DB542 Dark Red color, and had rubber and seals replaced throughout, while chrome and bright work was refurbished. The interior has been re-trimmed in new Cognac MB Tex and the carpets redone. Mechanicals were recently serviced, and a new exhaust system was installed. It should be noted that no engine number was found on the engine block, indicating that it is likely a dealer-installed, un-stamped unit. Estimate: $80,000 – $120,000 – No Reserve

A handsome color combination, this car looks to have been well cared for by a long term owner before being purchased by the consignor. Originality matters, there are plenty of 280SLs to choose from. A lot of 280SL buyers seem to only want 1971 models, but a 1968 model such as this looks awfully good to me.

Lot 139 – 1958 Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster

The low-mileage Roadster is described by the vendor as retaining its original interior upholstery, the sporting red leather providing the perfect contrast to the classic Mercedes silver paintwork. To set things off visually, the Roadster has been fitted with a set of reproduction Rudge knockoff wheels which truly give it that much more presence. Perhaps most remarkably, the 300SL also comes with an original Hard Top still in its original German wood shipping crate. 

According the the auction catalog, several years ago, the car was stripped “to bare metal, at which time it was determined to have a very solid body; once stripped, the 300SL was refinished in its original color of Silver Grey Metallic. While the paintwork was attended to, the fuel injection pump was rebuilt for smooth operation. Furthermore, the consignor states that the indicated mileage of under 57,000 is original. – Estimate: $1.2 Million – $1.4 Million

Gorgeous example in a classic color combination, replica Rudge wheels are a common change, roadster prices lagged behind coupe prices with 300SLs, for years, but no longer. Prices between coupes and roadsters today are a matter of condition, provenance and personal preference.

Lot 157 – 1957 Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster

After its first four decades of enjoyable use, the Roadster was sent to noted 300SL specialists Paul Russell and Company of Essex, Massachusetts circa year 2000; at this time, the odometer showed only 24,151 kilometers. The master craftsmen set to work with a complete engine rebuild. Receipts from this work document various items including reconstruction of the starter, generator, fuel injection pump, and water pump. The fuel system was refreshed with the fuel tank, fuel pump and associated hoses all being restored or replaced as needed, while the cooling system was attended to with all new coolant hoses and a restored radiator. In addition to the above, a brand new wiring harness was fitted along with a new oil tank, while the power brake booster was rebuilt. In all, some $80,000 was spent to ensure the car would perform as intended. – Estimate: $900,000 – $1.2 Million

From the auction catalog description I believe this is a color change to red. Recent refurbishment / restoration work by Paul Russell and Co., one would want to look closely at the actual work completed to see what was done and what might still be left to be done, as $80,000 doesn’t buy even 1/4 of a full restoration these days.

Lot 175 – 2015 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT Roadster

Manufactured in 2014 as a 2015 model year vehicle, this potent Mercedes-Benz is one of the 350 examples built of the final edition SLS AMG GT. A Roadster model, finished in graphite grey over a charcoal interior, the car is a US market example, and has had just one short-term New York based owner in the summer of 2014. In essentially brand new condition, this SLS AMG GT Roadster has a clean CARFAX, and less than 6,000 miles from new. Estimate: $225,000 – $275,000

Dare I call it ‘just a used car’? These are incredibly fun cars and cars you can drive everyday. This is an example of one of the last SLS AMG cars built. Hopefully the original window sticker / option list is with the car, it would be interesting to see what the original MSRP was. SLS AMG cars, coupes and roadsters are continuing to depreciate and there is no lack of available cars for sale, even of this final edition.

Lot 177 – 1953 Mercedes Benz 300S Coupe

*Just one single owner since new
*Expertly restored and serviced by Mercedes-Benz Classic Center
*Highly exclusive, top-of-the-line 300S Coupe
*Offered with extensive history file dating back to 1953
*Rarer than a Gullwing and more expensive when new

Estimate: $250,000 – $300,000

Always stately, this 300S looks especially good in dark blue, with just one owner since new, consigned by the owner’s estate, this coupe could do very well indeed when it crosses the auction block. They only made 216 examples of these gorgeous coupes, I wouldn’t be surprised if this car exceeded the high estimate by a wide margin.

Lot 179 – 1970 Mercedes Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet

*Exceptionally well-presented 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
*Top-of-the-line, hand built Mercedes-Benz of supreme quality
*Fitted with floor-shift and air conditioning
*Less than 58,000 miles from new
*Offered with copies of factory build sheets and restoration receipts

Originally Blue with blue leather, now white after restoration in the early 2000s, “The 280SE 3.5 had at that time accumulated just over 50,000 miles since new so was a very original and solid example to refurbish.”

Estimate: $325,000 – $375,000

Another one of the ‘darlings of the Mercedes market’ of late, the 280SE 3.5 cabriolets have seen huge price increases over the past two to three years. I sold a fully restored and correct 1971 280SE 3.5 cabriolet for about half the low estimate of this car in the fall of 2012 and it was a huge number at the time. The car offered here is no longer in its original dark blue exterior color, although it looks handsome enough in white. Restoration receipts and low mileage will help this car break its reserve, $300,000+ is a lot of money, but there aren’t a lot of these on the market at the moment either.

Check back here for auction results after auction week in Arizona is over. There will be a lot to report on as the Arizona auctions are often a tell for what might be ahead for the market for the rest of the year.

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