1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe outstrips previous sale record by over $100m.
A 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe has become the most expensive car ever sold after trading hands for €135 million – the equivalent of AUD$202.7 million.
The car – previously owned by Mercedes-Benz – was sold in a private auction run by RM Sotheby’s at the Mercedes-Benz Museum on 5 May. The buyer has chosen to remain private, with the deal being brokered by historic car specialists Kidston SA.
The impressive hammer price is a new world record price for any car, more than doubling the previous record, which was held by a Ferrari 250 GTO when it was sold in 2018 for $92 million – less than the bidding price opened at for the 300 SLR.
Just two 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupés were made by Mercedes-Benz, taking their name from the historic car maker’s chief engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut. The car was designed as a road-going version of the W 196 R grand prix car, with an enlarged 3.0-litre straight-eight engine allowing it to hit speeds of up to 290km/h.
The car sold was chassis 00008/55 – the second of the two cars built and the one that Uhlenhaut himself used frequently. The sale makes the 300 SLR one of the top 10 most expensive items ever sold at auction.
All proceeds from the sale will be used 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.”
Marcus Breitschwerdt, Head of Mercedes-Benz Heritage, said: “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.”
Peter Wallman, RM Sotheby’s UK and EMEA Chairman, said: “Words can’t really do justice to the importance and significance of this sale. It’s reasonable to say that nobody ever imagined that this car would ever be offered for sale, so for Mercedes-Benz to ask RM Sotheby’s to conduct the auction was an absolute honour.