Vintage Vehicles

Rare 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing transformed by restoration experts Thornley Kelham

Restoration shop Thornley Kelham has transformed this 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing.

Photo courtesy of Thornley Kelham

Reknowned vintage car restoration specialist Thornley Kelham has transformed a rare 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing to its former glory. The result is a product of very detailed owner instructions: it should be perfect, period-correct and finished in anything but silver.

In the 1950s, the 300L was designed as the result of Mercedes-Benz's decision to develop their own sports-racing car. They used the engine, transmission, suspension, and steering from the existing 300 saloon car. The result was the 1952 Mercedes-Benz W194 powered by a 3.0-liter straight-six. That was enough power and performance to earn the car victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Eifelrennen at Nürburgring, and Carrera Panamericana in Mexico. Just 10 examples of the car were made.

Jon Lord Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing English keyboard player Jon Lord (1941-2012) from rock band Deep Purple poses with a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing coupe sports car overlooking Los Angeles, USA in June 1975. Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns

The 300SL Gullwing coupe was the company's road-going version of the race car. It was powered by an engine similar to the race car and could get up to 163 mph making it the fastest production car of its time. It was in this car that Mercedes used the "SL" designation for the first time - it stands for "super light".

Interestingly, the car was not originally part of the Mercedes model plan. It was Max Hoffman, the Manhattan car dealer responsible for Porsche and the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia coming to America, who made the suggestion to Mercedes.

The car won many fans in its heyday, with over 3,200 coupe and roadster versions of the 300SL sold. Among the car's owners were some of the best-known royal figures, government leaders, artists, and celebrities of the day including the Shah of Iran, Juan Peron, Pablo Picasso, Sophia Loren, Clark Gable, Paul Newman, Yul Brenner, and Frank Lloyd Wright. In the years since, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, designer Ralph Lauren, and King Abdullah II of Jordan have called one of the models their own.

The 300SL Gullwing that made its way to Thornley Kelham's headquarters in the Cotswolds, following a stopover in France in the early days of its life, has resided in the U.K. since 1981. According to a release, its early history isn't very well documented, but a 1971 inspection carried out as it transferred owners revealed it to be in "perfect condition".

1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing

Photo courtesy of Thornley Kelham

By 2020, that was not the case. The Coupe had arrived at the shop with Roadster parts, the result of a shoddy repair following a front-end collision. Luckily, the frame was in good condition though the engine was in need of rebuilding. Sourcing as many original parts as possible was key, as was the careful adjustment of the wheel arches, which proved particularly delicate. The owner has opted to remove the bumpers from the car for a more streamlined appearance.

The car also needed to be painted and trimmed to the client's specifications. This meant putting a period-correct Horizon Blue paint job on the model and finishing the interior with blue plaid non-leather upholstery.

"Restoring a Gullwing is a huge responsibility, and restoring a Gullwing for a Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance judge like our client also comes with a fair bit of pressure. When you're working with a car as rare and iconic as this, originality and accuracy is absolutely crucial," said Simon Thornley, co-founder of Thornley Kelham. "We spent hundreds of hours getting the details of this car exactly right, while making sure it adheres to the same standard that every car we work on does – it has to look good, drive well and is made to last. This car has been enjoyed for over 60 years now, and we're delighted to have extended its lifetime for many more years of pleasure for its owners."

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Audi is only making the car for U.S. customers.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The 2021 Audi R8 Panther special edition is one of the rarer gifts you can get for your garage this holiday season. With a limited run of 30 coupes in the works, the R8 Panther edition models are the first available units in the R8 rear-wheel-drive model line and available only for U.S. customers.

If the name sounds familiar to you, that's because it should. The R8 Panther edition joins the 2019 RS 5 Panther edition, which was also a limited run and featured the same paint color and interior upholstery.

2021 Audi R8 Panther The hallmarks of the model include its black paint job and red-edged wheels.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The unique 2021 R8 Panther comes covered in an Audi-exclusive Panther Black crystal effect paint job with carbon exterior mirror housings. Its badging has been coated in black. The model rides on 20-inch five-double-spoke dynamic design wheels that have been milled cut, finished in matte black with red trim, and wrapped in summer performance tires.

Your neighbors will hear you leaving the cul-de-sac thanks to the car's sport exhaust system, which amplifies the sound of the V10 engine. LED headlights and LED taillights, with dynamic turn signals will help their eyes follow your path on the way out as they peer out their windows.

The R8 Panther is powered by a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V1 engine that produces 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, and sprints from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. It has a top track speed of 201 mph.

The chassis of the R8 Panther edition has been specifically adapted for rear-wheel drive, including using solid rear axles as opposed to hollow, a stiffer front anti-roll bar, and an increase in rear negative camber.

2021 Audi R8 Panther

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The model has a full black leather interior with Crimson red stitching. Its racing shells seats are covered in red Nappa leather and have power height and manual fore/art seat adjustment. The car's gear selector and parcel shelf are covered in Alcantara, and the headliner features a diamond-stitched Alcantara. Audi has given the model a brand-exclusive steering wheel with leather/Alcantara and 12 o'clock marker as well as exclusive R8 floor mats with Crimson red leather edging.

Audi virtual cockpit, Audi smartphone interface, Audi phone box with signal booster, navigation, a 13-speaker Bang & Olufson sound system, and illuminated door sill inlays are included.

A carbon exterior package adds carbon fiber to the engine compartment and carbon sigma sideblades while the carbon interior package adds carbon fiber high-gloss surrounds for both the virtual cockpit and the air vents, as well as the center console.

The 2021 R8 Panther edition will be available in select dealerships this month with an MSRP of $183,300. There is an additional $1,495 destination charge, $1,700 gas guzzler tax, sales taxes, title, options, and dealer charges.

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The Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne is an all-electric hypercar

Photo courtesy of Hispano Suiza

The Hispano Suiza brand has been around for more than a century. Now primarily known as an aerospace company, the automotive side of the business is attempting a revival, first with the Carmen's introduction and now with the Carmen Boulogne, a sportier take on the Carmen.

The Carmen Boulogne is a fully electric and exclusive hypercar that was designed, developed, and manufactured in Barcelona, Spain. The company will create just five examples for sale.

Its name origin stretches back to 1921 when Hispano Suiza made a racing version of its high-performance H6 Coupé and entered it in the George Boillot Cup, an endurance race lasting more than 3.5 hours around the French city of Boulogne. Hispano Suiza took the win at the race in 1921, 1922, and 1923.

Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne Photo courtesy of Hispano Suiza

The Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne delivers 1,098 horsepower and has an electronically limited maximum speed of 180 mph. The car can get form zero to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds and weighs 3,593 pounds. Its weight is 60 pounds less than the traditional Carmen, a number that was achieved by changing out traditional structural elements for a carbon fiber subframe, among other parts. Additionally, the entire body of the car is carbon fiber.

The car's 80 kilowatt hour battery gives it a driving range of up to 248 miles. That's similar to the range of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. Its battery is designed and produced in-house, and has fast-charging capability of more than 80 kilowatts, taking just 30 minutes to charge from 30 to 80 percent via a CCS2 fast charger. It also has CHAdeMO and GB/T charging options.

Each rear wheel of the car has two permanent-magnet synchronous motors. The torque deliver of each motor is controlled through a vectoring system honed by experience in Formula E racing. Off the line through 6,500 rpm, the car is capable of reaching 1,180 pound-feet of torque.

The face of the car has the same semi-circular headlights and scowl as the Carmen, with the difference of a copper-colored grille. Buyers can customize their model to include either suede or black Alcantara on the dashboard and door panels.

Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne

Photo courtesy of Hispano Suiza

The price of the Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne starts at $2 million USD, and its manufacturing process requires approximately twelve month of lead time.

The five units of the Carmen Boulogne hypercar join the 14 units of the Carmen to reach a total of 19 units in production, with the first unit ready to be delivered in 2022.

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