HomeCar CultureConcours of Elegance Germany to feature world-famous 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing

Concours of Elegance Germany to feature world-famous 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing

The world-famous Gullwing belonged to diplomat, racer, pilot, polo champion and alleged assassin, Porfirio Rubirosa


Among the many star cars set to be showcased at Lake Tegernsee this July for the Concours of Elegance Germany, the latest entry has true superstar quality.

Entered by German engineering house and international award-winning 300 SL restoration specialists, HK-Engineering, the ‘Rubirosa’ Gullwing is very much a car that tells a story.

The 87th 300 SL ever built, international man of mystery, Porfirio Rubirosa bought the car in 1955 from Wiesbaden, from where it was transferred to his home in Paris. Believed by many to have been Ian Fleming’s inspiration for James Bond, Rubirosa owned the car until his death in 1965. In the years that followed, the 300 SL changed hands five times up until 2000, when it was acquired by HK-Engineering’s founder, Hans Kleissl.

HK-Engineering will display the Rubirosa alongside other of its acclaimed 300 SL restorations at the Concours of Elegance Germany, with this particular car notable for its highly original character, with the interior, rim paints and chromed features untouched since 1955. The car was painted by a subsequent owner to Rubirosa, but the original matte silver colour was applied to the car by HK-Engineering, rendering it as close to original as possible.

The story of Rubirosa’s life is befitting of a Fleming novel in itself. Born in the Dominican Republic in 1909, Rubirosa showed an early talent for playing polo, the sport of Kings. Through the sport he met with dictatorial Dominican president Rafael Trujillo who hired the young sportsman to the Presidential Guard. 

From here Rubirosa rose through the ranks of the diplomatic service to serve in embassies from Berlin to Buenos Aires, Rome to Havana, and along the way would be married five times and courted many movie stars, models and heiresses, amassing a fortune in divorce settlements and alimonies.  He continued to serve as a close confidant and ‘man in’ various countries around the world for President Trujillo, dodging many a criminal charge and even prison several times through the 1940s and 50s.

He met his end in Paris in 1965, with his passions for fast cars and polo in full swing. After celebrating victory at the Polo Coupe de France late in to the night on July 4, he went on an early morning drive in his Ferrari 250 GT cabriolet, where he hit a tree and died on impact.

The Concours of Elegance Germany is grateful to HK-Engineering for bringing this exceptional 300 SL to the Lake Tegernsee event in July, fresh from another successful completion of the Mille Miglia, and marking 70 years of this most iconic of German sportscars. 



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