FOR SALE: 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Big Brake Roadster
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This very rare 300SL roadster is a highly desired “big drum brake” example with only several hundred miles driven since completion of a thorough nut-and-bolt restoration by Mercedes-Benz experts in 2015. As one of only five roadsters delivered in 653 Fantasy Yellow, it is a head turner in every way and is well sorted for driving events or concours display.
Chassis No. 198.042.10.002756. Engine No. 198.980.10.002839. Body No. 198.042.10.00266. Restored to in original color of DB653 Fantasy Yellow with green leather interior. Rare “Big Drum” racing brake example. One of five delivered in DB653 exterior paint. Rudge knock-off wheels. Factory hard top (040 black) with crate. Upgraded with European headlights. Fitted matching luggage. Matching correct German canvas soft top with correct German wool square weave carpeting. Becker Mexico automatic radio. Talbot mirror. The car is accompanied by photographs and receipts from the restoration and comes with copy of the factory data card, owners manual, tool kit and jack.
This rare “big drum” brake 1961 300 SL is one of only five roadsters originally delivered in Fantasy Yellow (DB653) and it came with a 953 black leather interior. The “big drum” racing brakes were available as an intermediary braking system between the standard drum brakes of the 1957 to 1960 cars and the disc brake cars of 1961 through 1963. They are the rarest of the 300SL braking systems and many 300SL mechanics and enthusiasts consider it to be the most effective braking system the model has to offer when finely set up. Allegedly, and understandably due to its bold exterior paint color, the car was retained by the factory when new for promotional purposes. According to the factory build sheet that accompanies the car and further confirmed by Mercedes-Benz, it’s engine was changed at the factory after its data card was produced but prior to delivery to it’s first owner, and it is still fitted with it’s matching numbers engine today (number 002839).
It was not sold to its first owner until 1963. At that time, it was purchased by David Jackson, who used the car at his residences in both Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jackson kept the car for nine years before selling to Dr. R.L. Dunworth of Huntington, West Virginia where the car remained in his possession for six years. It was then sold to John Walker, the principal of Mercedes-Benz of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1975. Walker kept the car for two years after which it was purchased by Jack Hahn, who would go on to own the car for the next 40 years. Purchased in 2013 by its current owner from Jim Gusweiler of Ohio, the car was at the time wearing Signal Red paint and fitted with European-specification headlights.
Shortly after purchasing the car, it was decided that 300SL would be fully restored by marque experts in California. The car was in very nice, driver-quality condition prior to restoration with no metal work needed. It was completely stripped to bare metal and refinished in its daring original color of DB653 Fantasy Yellow, an exceedingly rare color on 300SL’s.
All chrome parts were completely refinished, the drivetrain was fully rebuilt, and a new wiring harness was fitted to the car. The interior and soft-top were upholstered in dark green, and the car has been fitted with desirable Rudge knock-off wheels. The car is accompanied by photographs and receipts from the restoration, as well as a set of books, tools, and matching luggage.
This rare big drum brake 300SL roadster is very well sorted for driving and would be a huge hit on the show-field or during daily drives. With the car’s restoration having been completed in early 2016, it has almost no miles on it to date with only a monthly exercise program leading to several dozens of miles on the restoration. This exceptional Mercedes-Benz would make an eccentric collection entry for its rare, daring color scheme and checks all the boxes as a top quality restored example of the three pointed stars most famous open production car.