1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing in Graphite Grey Sells for $1.375 Million at RM Auctions’ Arizona Sale

In my email inbox this morning I got my daily email from Hemmings Motor News about happenings around the classic and collector car world. Of course I knew the Auctions were going on in Arizona this past weekend. Everyone thinks of Barrett-Jackson when they think of Arizona in January, but some of the highest caliber offerings are found at other venues, like RM Auctions Arizona event.

I was aware of a particular Graphite Grey  1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing that was to cross the block at RM’s Arizona auction this past weekend and eagerly awaited the result of the sale. The car was restored to a very high level about five years ago. It was originally white with a blue leather interior, the color was changed during restoration. It has the desirable Rudge knock off wheels, chromed no less, as well as fitted luggage and a period correct accessory wood steering wheel.

The general thought in the collector car hobby is that Mercedes-Benz 300SL coupes are undervalued at the $600,000 – $750,000 range they’ve been trading in recently and the hammered sale price of this particular example seems to confirm that. The car was sold for a whopping $1,375,000 after racing past the pre auction estimate of $700,000 – $800,000.

Only time will tell if this was a case of two rich guys in the same room who ‘just had to have it’ or whether this is a sign of things to come for the 300SL market. I’ve pasted the full press release from RM’s website with a full synopsis of their Arizona Auction weekend below. You can see photos and sale prices of all the cars at their Arizona auction on their website www.rmauctions.com .

I’ll be interested to hear what Keith Martin and the crew at Sports Car Market Magazine make of this one… a look at what’s to come for ‘regular’ steel bodied Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwings? or a case of Arizona ‘auction fever’? If you’re not familiar with Sports Car Market Magazine have a look at their website and subscribe today… it is a great magazine and the definitive publication for anyone interested in the collector car hobby or the collector car auction scene and market in general. www.sportscarmarket.com It’s about $50 to subscribe for a year and I always think it’s funny to read some of the comments with the subscription renewals they publish… “Expensive, but worth it” is what one subscriber wrote recently… I might say the same thing about this 300SL that sold at RM. Don’t tell the folks at SCM, but I’d pay $100 to renew my subscription!


Arizona – RM Auctions continues strong track record in Phoenix, Arizona posting almost $31 million in sales
– Sales tally represents highest results ever achieved in event’s 12 year history
– Top-seller: rare 1949 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta by Touring brings $1,870,000
– Four automobiles break magic million dollar mark
– 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe achieves new auction record, selling for $1,375,000
– Sale kicks off with successful ‘The British Are Back’ evening sale

PHOENIX, Arizona (January 21, 2010) – RM Auctions, the world’s largest collector car auction house, enjoyed a strong start to its 2011 auction season this week, posting a record $30.8 million in sales at its annual Arizona event, with an impressive 96% of lots sold and four automobiles exceeding the magic million dollar mark.

Held at the prestigious Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, the two-day sale presented 180 quality automobiles, spanning a diverse range of blue-chip automotive marques. Top honors went to a coveted 1949 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta, a matching-numbers Mille Miglia veteran and the 10th of just 25 examples built, which attracted strong interest, achieving $1,870,000.

A stunning, superbly-restored 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe also garnered significant attention, spurring a lively bidding war between Europe versus the Middle-East to well-exceed its presale estimate at $1,375,000 – a new auction record for a steel-bodied 300SL Gullwing.

Illustrating RM’s global clientele, bidders represented 21 countries from around the world, including as far away as Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Monaco and Australia.

“We are thrilled with the results from this week’s Arizona sale. The offering attracted strong interest from collectors around the globe, with numerous lots exceeding expectations,” says Rob Myers, Chairman and Founder, RM Auctions. “It is a great start to the New Year and paints a very positive forecast for the auction season ahead.”

Following the success of last year’s ‘The British Are Coming’, RM’s 2011 Arizona sale kicked off on Thursday, January 20 with ‘The British Are Back’ – an exclusive evening sale dedicated to the best of the British. Rolls-Royce claimed the top two sales of the night with a handsome 1932 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Newmarket Sport Sedan, one of just three original Brewster-bodied examples, bringing $440,000, while an extravagant 1921 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Phaeton, built for the Calcutta Motor Show, realized $379,500. Rounding out the top three sales from the evening, a 1963 Aston Martin DB4 Series IV Vantage exceeded its pre-sale estimate, selling for $352,000.

Friday’s top-sellers list was dominated by an exciting series of Ferraris and the ‘best of the best’ of the Classic Era. Continuing RM’s reputation as the global leader in the presentation of important and historic Ferraris at auction, the sale featured no less than 11 examples from the Modenese Prancing Horse. Led by the sale-topping 166 MM Barchetta, other highlights included a stunning 1965 Ferrari 500 Superfast, one of just 32 built, for $935,000; a 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spyder, offered from the personal collection of Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, for $880,000; and the ex-Jacques Swaters 1995 Ferrari F50 Show Car, showing less than 1,000 miles, for $742,500.

The American Classics category was headlined by a rare 1933 Packard Twelve Sport Phaeton by Dietrich which realized $1,760,000, closely followed by a 1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton driven by Elvis Presley in the film ‘Spinout’ for $1,237,500. The sale’s cover car – a spectacular 1931 Marmon Sixteen Coupe, one of only six survivors – also attracted spirited bidding, achieving $687,500 to set a new price level for Marmons.

Additional sale highlights included:
– a 1939 Bugatti Type 57C Three-Position Drophead Coupe for $913,000;
– a 1930 Cadillac V-16 Roaster for $577,500;
– a 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarittz Convertible for $286,000; and
– a 1926 Duesenberg Model A Dual Windshield Phaeton for $275,000.

RM Auctions continues its 2011 calendar in Florida, March 12 with the return of its annual Amelia Island sale held in conjunction with the famed Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. The international auction house kicks off its European auction calendar, May 21 with a new sale at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on the banks of Lake Como in Italy.

Full sales results from the Arizona sale will be posted online at www.rmauctions.com.

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