Pick of the Day: Musty Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘barn find’

Stored in a warehouse untouched for more than 40 years, the roadster has been driven fewer than 15,000 miles

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The 300SL roadster is rolled out into the open air for the first time in more than 40 years

Some “barn finds” are so magical, they almost defy description or explanation.  How did this even happen, one might ask in the most extreme cases.

The Pick of the Day is one of those.  “An extraordinary discovery” is how the seller describes the 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster rolled out of a Chicago-area warehouse, covered in the crud of more-than 40 years of storage and showing less than 15,000 miles on its odometer.

Now that’s something.

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The Mercedes was purchased recently from the estate of the long-time owner who parked it in the warehouse in 1976 for unknown reasons, and it remained there until his death, according to the Astoria, New York, dealer advertising the roadster on ClassicCars.com.

“Today, this incredible matching-numbers 300SL shows just 14,558 original miles on the odometer and is offered with a factory hard top, soft top and jack,” the seller says in the ad. “An extremely rare and exciting opportunity to own one of the very last unrestored, barn find 300SL Roadsters in existence.”

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Crusty barn-find 300SLs have been seen at high-end collector car auctions in recent years, where they sometimes sell for more than fully restored examples.  That, of course, depends on the untouched car’s overall condition and the level of patina that has been dialed in by nature over the years.

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This Mercedes, with its very-low mileage and known provenance, and apparent overall good condition despite decades of recluse, tips the scales to originality vs restoration. The car even has its original Data Card from Mercedes-Benz.

All is not ideal, of course, and this car has a few serious demerits.

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“This 1960 model, one of only 249 examples built that year, was delivered to the US and was originally finished in the rare and very sophisticated color of Blaugrau (Blue Grey), code DB166G,” the seller notes. “At one point in the car’s life, it was repainted in silver and the original blue leather interior was re-dyed in black.”

That was a misguided change and would ding the Mercedes’s purity and overall value.  Still, such an important find as this tends to transcend the sins of its past, particularly considering its remarkably low mileage.  A diamond in the rough, indeed.

As such, the asking price is right up there at $1.095 million.


Of course, after spending all that disposable income, the next owner would be faced with the quandary of what to do with it.  Leave it as is to serve as an interesting showpiece?  Clean it up for driving and showing?

Or go ahead with a full-monty restoration for beaucoup bucks that would return it to its original color, interior and appearance, but lose its originality? 

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Decisions, decisions.  I just wish they were mine to make.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I would buy for $1095.00 and that is borrowed money. Chances are it would take a year or so to fix the damage that time and just sitting has done. Whoever gets this, even if it started, don’t drive it home. The tires will separate and you will have two blowouts in 100 miles. I have a car that sit for years but it was outside for some of that time and it has rusted underneath. All the bolts have rusted to the point, you have to grind off the bolts to take things apart.

  2. Something doesn’t look right to me. In the picture the tractor, car behind and car on the left look to be nice and clean. Why would the Mercedes be the only one dirty? Perhaps the owner kept the other 3 covered but not the Mercedes? Why? And I certainly wouldn’t worry about preserving this car’s originality anymore. The main attraction to someone looking for an original car is mainly the paint which is why they never clean it when it goes to auction. This car does NOT have the original paint anymore. Since the interior has been dyed it’s not original either, at least not the color. This in my mind is just another 300sl that will need to be completely restored in it’s original color body and interior to be worth over $1 million.

  3. This car is simply not worth the absurd $1 million plus asking price. It is just a car! after all. The writer of the piece has summed it up correctly that there is no real answer to the conundrum of what to do with it? As there is no clear cut answer the question of weather to purchase It at all is a folly.
    No real provenance, no special history, nothing really to make it special at all. Again, just a car

  4. I love seeing these barn find stories! One can only dream they stumble accross one of these gems. I think finding out the back story on why these cars were tucked away and forgotten for so many years would be very interesting as well. Maybe in some cases, increase the value of the car as well, depending on the story behind it.

  5. A wonderful “Barn Find” as stated. Total makeover for this beauty to the paint to the original color of the interior. I would love to see the stages the new owner takes to make this a cover story in the future. Keep looking, they are out there just waiting to be found and brought back to their original beauty.

  6. I’ll buy it for $250K as is. Nothing special here as it sits. I’ll be the one faced with the insurmountable task of returning the car to its original glory. Considering it’s nowhere near that now. Feel free to reach out to me. I can wire the funds this afternoon before 5 PM eastern time.

  7. Oh, this really looks dodgy, as someone else has already pointed out. How could you have one dirty undisturbed car (the Mercedes in question) in your garage and everything around it including other cars including the garage itself all looking so clean? And are you telling me the car has been in that spot all that time? Blocking in the car behind which is to modern to have got in there before it. I just don’t buy it! Not the car or the story!

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