A 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe has become the most expensive car ever sold after selling for €135 million (approximately Rs 1,108 crore). The car – previously owned by Mercedes-Benz – was sold in a private auction conducted by RM Sotheby’s at the Mercedes-Benz Museum on May 5.
- Only two 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes were ever produced by Mercedes-Benz
- It gets a straight-eight engine capable of taking the car to 288kph
- Previous record for most expensive car was held by a Ferrari 250 GTO
The buyer has chosen to be anonymous, with the winning bid being placed on their behalf by Simon Kidston, head of historic car specialist Kidston SA.
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR sold at record high price
The Rs 1,108 crore price tag is a new world record for any car – more than twice the previous record – which was held by a Ferrari 250 GTO when it was sold in 2018 for £52 million (approximately Rs 503 crore).
Only two 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes were made by Mercedes-Benz, and were named after their chief engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut. The car was designed as a road-going version of the W 196 R grand prix car, with a larger 3.0-litre straight-eight engine enabling it to hit speeds of up to 288kph.
The car sold was chassis 00008/55 – the second of the two cars built, and the one that was used by Uhlenhaut himself frequently. This sale puts the 300 SLR as one of the most expensive items ever to be sold at an auction.
All the proceeds from the sale will be directed to establish a worldwide “Mercedes-Benz fund'', which RM Sotheby’s says will aim to “provide educational and research scholarships in the areas of environmental science and decarbonisation for young people.”
Simon said, "If you had asked classic car experts and top collectors over the past half a century to name the most desirable car in the world, there's a good chance that they would have come up with the same model: the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR.”
He further added, “It's a combination of exotic engineering, all-conquering racing history, the power of the three-pointed star on its nose and the fact that one had never, ever been sold. Many collectors had tried, all had failed.” Moreover, he referred to the 300 SLR as the “Mona Lisa of cars”.
Marcus Breitschwerdt, Head of Mercedes-Benz Heritage, said that the car will still make public appearances. “The private buyer has agreed that the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe will remain accessible for public display on special occasions, while the second 300 SLR Coupe remains in company ownership and will continue to be displayed at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.”
Previous record holders
Many of the top priced cars sold at auctions have been Ferraris. The previous record holder, the Ferrari 250 GTO, had won the 1964 Le-Mans 24 hour. In 2013, a Mercedes-Benz W196 was sold at $29 million (approximately Rs 225 crore). Raced by Juan Manuel Fangio, it was the most expensive Mercedes-Benz to be sold at an auction until the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut.
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