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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The G-Wagen was already over-the-top.

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The Mercedes-AMG G63 is rolling excess, in every sense of the word. It's huge, expensive, loud, quick, and demands attention, but some people feel that it needs even more of all of those things. That's where tuner Brabus comes in, and as this G-Wagen shows, people are willing to shell out big money to own a Brabus-tuned G.

Among other upgrades, the Brabus B40S-800 and G800 Widestar packages brought more power, 20-inch forged wheels, a lift kit, a performance exhaust, extra bodywork, and carbon fiber trim as far as the eye can see. The already impressive twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 to boost output to 800 horsepower and 712 pound-feet of torque. An AMG nine-speed automatic transmission handles gear shifts, while a dual-range transfer case and three locking differentials help the hulking SUV handle off-road duties with ease.

2021 Mercedes-Benz G63 Brabus G800 Widestar The G63's interior is opulent and spacious.Bring a Trailer

Inside, the G-Wagen features quilted Nappa leather upholstery, carbon fiber trim, and aluminum accents throughout. Features include a Burmester sound system, blind spot monitors, ambient lighting, heated and ventilated front seats, and plenty more. An AMG flat-bottom steering wheel, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and large center touchscreen highlight the front cabin. Just 900 miles are shown on the odometer.

2021 Mercedes-Benz G63 Brabus G800 Widestar Power output has been boosted to 800 hp.Bring a Trailer

The standard G63 starts at over $156,000, so it's not surprising to see one with far more power and a laundry list of custom features with a current bid price of $376,000. The B40S kit alone costs $35,000, and then there's installation, tuning, and all of the surrounding work. That's before we even get to the lift kit and other work done here. The price tag is steep, but this may be one case where we can actually add things up to see where the selling price comes from, instead of ogling at the six-figure price tag with no context.

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Mercedes showed off its electric future at the 2021 IAA Mobility show in Germany.

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Mercedes-Benz EQB EQB will be Mercedes' electric family SUV.Mercedes-Benz


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EQB is the brand's family-sized SUV, offering seating for up to seven people. A long wheelbase of 111.3 inches and adjustable second-row seating allows more interior space for people and gear. Mercedes says the EQB will offer two powertrain configurations: The EQB 300 4MATIC will get 225 horsepower and the EQB 350 4MATIC will sport 288 horsepower. A front-wheel drive configuration will go on sale later and a long-range model will follow.


Mercedes-Benz Concept EQG The EQG will eventually become the brand's electric off-roader.Mercedes-Benz


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Concept EQG is a preview of the eventual electrification of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, its boxy, upper-crust off-roader. This concept is far closer to a design exercise than something we'll actually see in production, but it's an interesting demonstration, nonetheless. With 22-inch wheels, wild exterior lighting touches, and what the automaker says will be legendary off-road abilities, the EQG will be an exciting vehicle when it does make an appearance.


Mercedes-Benz EQE EQE will follow the EQS as a smaller, sportier electric sedan in 2022.Mercedes-Benz


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