The past few weeks have seen rumors flying about a new top-level sale in the collector car market — and the rumors have proven to be true.
RM Sotheby’s has just announced the May 5 sale of a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe for €135,000,000. The exchange rate on the day brings the U.S. dollar total on the deal to $142,668,000.
No matter how you look at it, this SLR is firmly in the top spot as the most expensive collector car ever sold at auction.
The car is one of two built by Mercedes, based on the W196R Grand Prix car that won two World Championships at the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio. One notable difference was a larger 3.0-liter engine for sports car racing — which helped to propel the SLR to a top speed of 180 mph.
The sale took place at the Mercedes-Benz Museum at Stuttgart, with invitees including selected Mercedes customers as well as international car and art collectors. It’s reported that the opening bid alone was more than the selling price of the previous auction record $48.4m Ferrari 250 GTO that RM Sotheby’s sold in Monterey in 2018.
Proceeds from the sale are to be used to establish a worldwide “Mercedes-Benz Fund” that will provide education and research scholarships for young people — particularly in the areas of environmental science and decarbonization.
“We are proud that we can contribute with our historical collection to this initiative connecting the past with the future of engineering and decarbonisation technology”, said Marcus Breitschwerdt, Head of Mercedes-Benz Heritage. “The private buyer has agreed that the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé will remain accessible for public display on special occasions, while the second original 300 SLR Coupé remains in company ownership and will continue to be displayed at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.”
Speaking on behalf of RM Sotheby’s, Peter Wallman, Chairman, UK & EMEA, said: “Words can’t really do justice to the importance and significance of this sale. It’s reasonable to say that nobody ever imagined that this car would ever be offered for sale, so for Mercedes-Benz to ask RM Sotheby’s to conduct the auction was an absolute honour.”
Oliver Barker, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said “What an absolute thrill to bring the hammer down on this masterpiece of design and engineering, which now stands shoulder to shoulder with the greatest works of art ever sold. Few ever dreamt that this great jewel of motoring history would ever come for sale, and how fitting that it should happen now, just as we embark on a new and exciting chapter with our partners at RM Sotheby’s.”