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The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe has become the world’s most expensive car selling for an astonishing €135 million or nearly US$142.9 million, smashing the old record set by a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that is believed to have sold for $48.4 million in 2018 by a whopping by $94.5 million.
One of two ultra-rare original 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Collection, the special model was sold by Mercedes itself in cooperation with RM Sotherby’s to an unnamed private collector who was represented by British expert Simon Kidston.
What Makes The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR ‘Uhlenhaut Coupe’ Special
Based on the W 196 R Grand Prix car, which won several world championships at the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio, the 300 SLR was designed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut and carries his name. Power is provided by a 3.0-liter straight-eight engine producing 302 horsepower, which was good enough to rocket the machine from 0-60mph in just 6.9sec, onto a top speed of 176.47mph, as tested by Autocar in 1956.
Seven SLR examples were built but only two featured enclosed cockpits for endurance racing use, however, the vehicle was never actually raced but was instead used for practice and as Uhlenhaut’s personal transportation to events.
The two examples were nicknamed Red and Blue for their interior color. This one is “Red”, and features just 6,045km on the odometer. Mercedes-Benz has kept both vehicles in its collection since new, with this sale marking the first time one was available to purchase.
Only a select few individuals were invited to take part in the auction, which took place at the Mercedes Benz museum where the vehicle has lived for the last 67 years.
The bidding started at an incredible 50 million euros, more than the final price of the previous most expensive car sold at auction: a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. As the hammer came down, the number on the Mercedes-Benz was €135 million (equal to $142.9 million at current exchange rates), making it the most expensive vehicle in the world, as well as one of the most expensive things ever auctioned.
Simon Kidston placed the winning bid on behalf of an unnamed client, after lobbying Mercedes-Benz’s board of directors to sell the race car for some 18-months. He has previously described the Uhlenhaut Coupe as his “favorite car”, and was one of the very few to test drive it. Kidston himself showed up at the auction on May 5th, 2022, in the 300SL Gullwing that his father had purchased new in 1955.
The vehicle won’t be locked away in some collector’s private garage and will remain accessible for special occasions. The second car, “Blue”, will remain on display at Mercedes-Benz’s museum in Stuttgart. It’s not clear whether or not Gert Straub, the 300 SLR’s personal mechanic, will accompany the vehicle to its new owner.
“We are proud that we can contribute with our historical collection to this initiative connecting the past with the future of engineering and decarbonisation technology”, says Marcus Breitschwerdt, Head of Mercedes Benz Heritage. “The private buyer has agreed that the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé will remain accessible for public display on special occasions, while the second original 300 SLR Coupé remains in company ownership and will continue to be displayed at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.“
Mercedes said that the money from the sale will go toward a charity fund set up to provide educational and research scholarships in the areas of environmental science and decarbonization for young people.