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The Gullwing that topped Concours: 1956 Mercedes Benz 300SL Coupe

9 March, 2015

Knowing that there are only two early Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwings in the country, the likelihood of stumbling across one in your local supermarket car park is extremely remote indeed. 

What makes this particular Gullwing so rare is that it’s number 27 of the 29 aluminium-body Gullwings ever built. This is the only one of the aluminium-body 300 SLs painted in this combination of MB 608 elfenbein (elephant ivory) with red, gabardine, tartan-plaid seats and cream leather — specification L2.

It is a matching number car with all components matching the build sheet, with the exception that it is trimmed in nappa leather rather than vinyl texleder.    

The car was delivered with, and still retains, the factory NSL-specification engine that includes high-performance camshaft, as well as a special suspension package. The restoration of this car has taken four years.

At the recent Ellerslie Intermarque Concours d’Elegance, this stunning example won the coveted Master Class competition against four other world-class restorations, scoring 564 points out of a possible 590 points. This is the third-highest score achieved at this event in its 42-year history. 

Read all about this 1956 Mercedes Benz 300SL Coupe in the upcoming New Zealand Classic Car Issue No. 292.

Saltwater Creek Garage

After passing by this building for many years, I decided to call in and ask the owner about his garage and the car that had been parked there. It was a 1982 Hyundai Pony 1200 TLS that he’d inherited from his mother who had bought it when it was nearly new. I was fortunate enough to buy it from him — many had approached him over the years but were turned away. After sitting out there for that long you could not imagine how dirty it was. At least it had never been wet in all that time. The interior is a mid-blue and almost like new — in fact his mother, Irene, had still retained the original factory-fitted thick clear-plastic cover over the mid-blue vinyl door panels.

Lunch with … Roger Bailey

Roger’s story is a classic illustration of what hard work, honesty to the point of brutal frankness, a ‘can-do’ approach, and a racer’s brain can get you in this sport of car racing. Roger, or ‘Boost’ as he’s known up and down the pitlanes of America, was who Kenny Smith turned to when he was dragging a reluctant teenager around the different pit garages at Laguna Seca.
“Scott [Dixon] kept complaining that it was too hot and he just wanted to go back to the hotel pool. I had to tell him that I was trying to secure his future — we weren’t getting much of a look in until we saw Roger who knew everyone and set about introducing Scott as New Zealand’s next big thing.