Original Mercedes Gullwing Beats Restored Mercedes Gullwing in Auction Battle


This is a follow-up from last week’s Monday Reading, where I mentioned a story from Hemmings about two Mercedes Gullwings that were coming up for auction in Arizona.

Both are 1956 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwings. Both are black with red leather interiors. Both highly desirable. One was completely original right down to its faded paint, frumpy old seats and scars from years of use and storage. The other had been lovingly restored ‘to concours condition’ and looked as fresh as a spring daisy.

The old:


The new:



The Goodings auction was held in Arizona over the weekend and the results are in:

The restored Gullwing (Lot 122) sold for $1,402,500

The original Gullwing (Lot 42) sold for $1,897,500

I’m sure the owner of the restored car is pretty happy getting nearly a million-and-a-half in the family bank account. But I wonder if he/she is smarting just a little at being out-done by $495,000 – more than 33% – by a car sharing the same specs and vintage?

I’ve not experienced it for myself, but I’m willing to bet the classic car auction world is a competitive one (sort of like dog shows but without the big hair).


Other interesting results from the Gooding & Company auction….

This 1937 Cord 812 Beverly sold for $79,500. It’s old enough, rare enough and fancy enough to look like it should go for more.


This 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO sold for more than $1.4million, proving that Ferrari prices continue to go up and up.


Lest you think (like me) that it’s just a Magnum PI car with a slightly different badge….. The 288 was a limited edition built for homologation purposes. It was based on the 308 and ended up as a stillborn racing model when the FIA dumped the racing class it was built for. It has two turbochargers and produces around 400hp. As it was an homologation car, only 200 models had to be built (there were 272 by the time Ferrari finished), hence the exclusivity and high price.

This Lotus (Ford) Cortina from 1966 sold for $107,250


This 1977 Aston Martin V8 sold (without reserve) for more than $20K under the estimate, fetching $118,250


This Renault Alpine A110 sold for $302,500 and is probably the most desirable car at the auction for me.


Symmetry sale: this Jaguar XJ220 sold for $220,000


This 1971 Alfa Romeo Montreal sold for $176,000 – a price that makes the $50,000 Montreal you can buy in Australia right now look very attractive.

Either that or someone got really carried away at the auction.


This Lancia B24S Aurelia sold for $1,815,000. That’s a figure remarkably close to the un-restored Gullwing and yet I bet there’d be ten people who’ve heard of a Gullwing for every one who’d heard of the Aurelia.

Hemmings note that a similar Aurelia sold for $825,000 last January, so someone made some serious money on the weekend.


And finally….

This 1983 Toyota FJ40 LandCruiser sold for $41,800. It’s notable mainly because it was the last model year for the original FJ40 and has a new coat of paint. If that doesn’t convince you there’s only vague logic in the world of car auctions, nothing will.



The full list of results from the Gooding & Company auction is available here. There are some outstanding cars there to see and many of them fetched amazing prices.


You may also like


      1. I Googled and came up with the same. There is another ’37 Cord Beverly in Massachusetts for $99k, says it won best in class in the 2008 Auburn show. Why would they be so little money? Cords are revered. It makes no sense!

    1. I don’t know much about them, but it struck me as a marque that’s quite sought after amongst a certain group of collectors, hence my surprise at the relatively low price. The range advised by the auction company was around that mark, though, so there must be a reason.

      1. Perhaps Cord collectors live at the sane end of the hobby.
        Come to think of it, other than Duesenberg and a few French luxury marques, 1930s cars seem relatively affordable. I think that they appeal more to tinkerers and to enthusiasts more than to fund managers.

        1. A theory: a lot of the collectors might be aged between 40 and 70. There is the faint possibility that they are seeking to buy what was the toy car of their childhood as the real thing. Hence cars from the 1950s through to 80s going for more than a Cord, which is clearly the pre-eminent vehicle here. Faintly irritating that there is little prospect of me ever having the spare cash to take advantage of their historical, cultural and aesthetic folly by even entering the bargain end of this market. Yes, and I’m sure they are mostly fund managers and stockbrokers; ie, really useful people who do a lot of good work keeping the wheels of commerce turning while the rest of us useless parasites just go on building, healing, informing, entertaining and educating people in our so called ‘jobs’.

  1. I’m amazed that the Jaguar XJ220 only went for $220K. I mean that must be below its original selling price.

  2. Regarding the Gullwings that’s what I expected. An unmolested example has so much more going for it from a desirability angle. Such is the world of cars, sometimes the prospect of this being “your” project rather than buying the results of “somebody else’s” project makes all the difference.

  3. In the early 80’s I worked for a guy that had one of these in his shed full of old cars.
    He told me it was a low $ trade-in on a new spitfire. Totally ratty original condition, same color combo too. We got it running in very little time but it had 20 year old michelin skinny tube-type tires, thus limiting test speeds. It was an amazing work of art.

  4. Land Cruisers are rare in the US. That’s why an as-new US-model FJ40 is worth the price of a new loaded Wrangler Rubicon X (top off-road spec).

    Same thing for Land Rover Defenders. They were only imported for a few years in the early-mid 1990s, and good ones have appreciated since then.

    I know that both of these motors are as common as dirt in Australia, but tough import rules and snob appeal keep them pricey here.

    1. We had a LWB Defender when I were a lad. A 1994 model, but a chassis from the early Victorian period. Joy on the moors, seasickness on the highways.

    2. Rare or not, it’s a little ironic. Capable, but extremely uncomfortable and having it reach a price like this implies it will be displayed rather than used, which is the exact opposite of what the vehicle’s all about.

      1. It will get used, but it will likely be kept at someone’s summer cottage and only driven on clear days, taking the grand kids out for ice cream or doing some mild off-roading.

        These are actually a fairly wise place to park your money (as it were). They will probably keep appreciating, and maintenance costs are low.

        Come to think of it, it’s not all that different from your Brumby (Subaru BRAT in the US): a fully depreciated weekend runabout with loads of personality.