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 GullwingEnglish 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

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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New performance sedan

2023 Mercedes-AMG C 43 on the way with F1 tech

The new C 43 gets engine tech straight from Formula 1.

Mercedes-AMG

It's about time we started considering Mercedes-AMG's 43-level cars in some of the same conversations that include the 53- and 63-level monsters. Today, Mercedes-AMG announced the 2023 C 43 Sedan. But even though it's the "entry-level" C-Class performance car, AMG gave it some serious upgrades, including standard rear-wheel steering, a mild-hybrid system, and plenty of power.

2023 Mercedes-AMG C 43 SedanRear-wheel steering is standard, as is adaptive suspension. Mercedes-AMG

The new turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 402 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque - up from last year's 385 ponies. It's paired with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-biased all-wheel drive. Mercedes says the powertrain is strong enough to propel the C43 to 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.6 seconds.

The four-cylinder is the first production engine with an electric exhaust-gas turbocharger. The tech came directly from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team, who won the 2021 Constructor's Championship. Where traditional turbochargers have to build boost over a short period of time, an electric motor spins the turbo to start before allowing the exhaust gases to take over. The system is driven by the car's 48-volt mild-hybrid system and should reduce turbo lag and improve responsiveness.

2023 Mercedes-AMG C 43 SedanThe car's electric turbocharger is a first in a production car. Mercedes-AMG

Five driving modes are available, including Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport +, and Individual. The drive modes alter throttle and steering response, transmission shift points, exhaust sound, and settings for the adaptive dampers. Shockingly, the car comes standard with rear-wheel steering with an angle of up to 2.5 degrees. The system works at speeds of up to 37 mph, and can drastically reduce the C 43's turning radius while improving turn-in and handling.

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Just 55 of the SUV will be built.

Mercedes

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is an aspirational vehicle, and is one that shouts "I've made it" to the world. Its six-figure price tag legitimate military background, and hardcore off-road capabilities make it appealing on many levels, and there's even a go-fast version from AMG. The G63 cranks up the already bonkers G-Class to 11, with a big V8 and aggressive styling. To commemorate AMG's 55th year tuning Mercedes' vehicles, the automaker is releasing a limited "Edition 55" G 63.

Mercedes-AMG G 63 "Edition 55"The Edition 55 gets unique styling touches inside and out. Mercedes

Though the Edition 55 adds plenty of unique flair to the AMG-massaged G-Wagen, the SUV's beating heart remains untouched. It's a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 making 577 horsepower, and is good for a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds. That's in an SUV with a curb weight just shy of 6,000 pounds. Four-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission are also standard.

Mercedes says the Edition 55 comes finished in Obsidian Black metallic and rides on 22-inch forged wheels, even though the images it sent to accompany the announcement clearly show a not-black SUV. It also comes with the AMG Night Package, which brings blacked-out trim and unique accents, and the fuel filler cap is embossed with the AMG logo. Inside, the cabin features a black and red color scheme with stainless steel accents throughout. Black velour floor mats stitched with "Edition 55" in red are standard, along with an AMG Performance steering wheel wrapped in microfiber. The seats are covered in black and red Nappa leather upholstery, and Edition 55 badges are seen throughout the space.

Mercedes-AMG G 63 "Edition 55"The 577-hp super SUV can sprint to 60 mph quicker than many sports cars. Mercedes

When Mercedes says "limited edition" here, it means business. Just 55 of the SUVs will be available in the United States, and will be released later this year. There's no word on ordering or pricing details yet, but it's a safe bet that the ultra-exclusive G-Wagen will sell out quickly.

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