When you hear the sentence, ‘the world’s most expensive car’, you might be thinking about Bugatti Chiron’s special edition. They cost more than €3 million, and that’s very expensive.
However, a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR broke that record: €135 million by Sotheby’s on the 19th of May, 2022! I know classic cars are always more expensive than modern cars. But €135 million was not something commonly seen! So how can a car cost this much?
There were only two Mercedes-Benz 300SLR cars ever produced. They are both owned by Mercedes-Benz (MB) AG Germany. MB was never willing to sell the 300SLRs. The uniqueness of the 300SLR is not in the design: it is in the technology.
It was one of the first direct petrol injection engine cars, developing 310 PS from an 8-cylinder 3-lt engine with a top speed of 283 kph (176 mph) and only 7.4 seconds to reach 100 kph (62 mph). I know these numbers are not so exciting for 2022, but for 1955 it was groundbreaking. Also, the 300SLR was based on space frame chassis and only weighed 1.1-tonnes! Another interesting fact: the front brakes were on axles, unlike inside the wheels on a regular car, so, they can save weight with the wheels, and the car’s centre of gravity is improved. Additionally, brakes on axles will not lock the wheel easily (ancient ABS).
So, who was driving this car?
It was Rudolf Uhlenhaut. The designer of the car. 300SLR was his company car, and he drove it every day. However, the 300SLR runs very loud and it caused Rudolf Uhlenhaut to have permanent hearing loss. It is good to note too that despite having the 300SLR as the company car, it only had 6045 km.
So, who bought the 300SLR?
Someone wealthy and well connected. I don’t think the owner of the 300SLR is a lottery winner because Mercedes-Benz didn’t wish to sell this car for decades. Simon Kidston urged the Mercedes-Benz board to sell for 18 months…it was one of the toughest sales! I have no idea on the insurance premium for this car.
What happened to the €135 million?
Mercedes-Benz donated it to a foundation.
Is this car worth the money?
Yes! It was before its time and designed with the highest levels of engineering. Their performance figures can still challenge today’s sports cars!
Photos // Mercedes-Benz