The Bid is Right

How high do you think this 300SL roadster can go?

by Grady Eger
11 March 2022 3 min read
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Bring a Trailer/thecarshrink.

If you’ve been following the auction scene of late, then you’re aware things are kind of nuts right now. Thanks to the continued growth of online selling platforms, classic cars are being bid on at an unprecedented pace. Insider has lots of thoughts about this phenomenon—you can find some here and herebut perhaps the most important one is that it’s fun. Who doesn’t like seeing amazing classics trotted out day in and day out, and who doesn’t like guessing just how much they’ll go for?

In the spirit of fun, we’re introducing a new contest. We’re calling it, The Bid is Right. The premise is simple and should be familiar to anyone who has watched daytime TV in the last few decades: The person who guesses closest to the final bid—without going over—wins.

Oh, and did we mention we’re giving out $500 to the winner? Yes, we take fun pretty seriously.

With no further adieu, we present this week’s contest. Submit your guess in the comments section below no later than March 14, at 2 pm EST (24 hours before the auction officially closes—that’s right, no sniping!).

The Car: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster, for sale on Bring a Trailer

Hagerty Price Guide value – Condition #1: $1,700,000 | Condition #2: $1,400,000 | Condition #3: $1,100,000

Our take: Many of the great carmakers have that one masterpiece model, one that defines an era or rewrites the book on how to design an automobile. For Lamborghini, it’s the Countach. For Jaguar, it’s the E-Type. For Mercedes-Benz, it’s the 300SL. Powerful, seductive and cutting edge, it won on the race track and stunned anyone lucky enough to see one on the road. Now, nearly seven decades after the first 300SL road cars were introduced, it’s still one of the most recognizable and desirable classic cars out there.

The first production 300SLs, with their radical gullwing doors, first hit the market in 1954, and were directly derived from the sports-racing car that won the Carrera Panamericana and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1952. Advanced features like the tubular frame, fully independent suspension and fuel injection for the 2995-cc straight-six made the Mercedes seem like a car from the future. Its price of nearly $7000 in the United States meant it was priced like one too. In 1957, after about 1400 coupes had been sold, a roadster model was introduced. Gone were the gullwing doors, but in came the sunshine. The roadster soldiered on until 1963, with over 1800 built.

The 300SL was an exclusive car when it was new, but it is even more so today, and even scruffier examples have been seven-figure cars for several years now. That brings us to our Bid is Right car for this week. It shows quite a bit of use and patina, but it also has a neat story and some interesting special features. Reportedly delivered new to the last Shah of Iran’s twin sister, Princess Ashraf ol-Molouk Pahlavi, it then sold to aerospace industry pioneer Thomas Foster Hamilton, who fitted an aluminum roll hoop and custom-fabricated instrument panel with rally gauges. it also comes with a hardtop and a Nardi woodrim steering wheel. It is unrestored, but received a mechanical recommissioning in the past couple of years.

We saw this car in Amelia Island two years ago. It sold for $995,000, but a lot has changed in the collector car market since then, hasn’t it? How high do you think it will go in 2022? Guess in the comments, below. Closest guess to the highest bid (without going over) takes home $500.

More ground rules:

  • The commenter who guesses closest to the hammer price—without going over—wins. (Hammer price excludes auction house fees).
  • One guess per commenter.
  • If two people guess the same amount (within a dollar) the earlier guess wins.
  • Commenters must provide first and last name in addition to email address.
  • We will close the guessing on Thursday, November 11 at 2 pm.
  • Your privacy is important to us, and we’ll never sell your information.  By providing your email you will receive the weekly Insider newsletter, and you can opt out at any time.
  • You can read the full rules here.
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