The Hilton Stamp

Mercedes-Benz 300SL W198 Roadster


One of our proudest projects, we completed a full nut and bolt, concours standard restoration on this car in 2016. The final colourway of DB172 is Metallic Grey with a red leather hide interior. Highly regarded as one of the finest sports cars ever made, the 300SL roadster was first shown to the public at the 1957 Geneva Motor Show and is the successor of the famous 300SL Gullwing coupe, which stopped production the same year. Did you know Max Hoffman Daimler-Benz’s official USA importer in New York spurred the creation of the 300SL models? Max suggested to Daimler-Benz (Now Mercedes-Benz) that building a road version of the Mercedes W194 Grand Prix racer would be a commercial success, especially for export, with a large number of USA sales predicted. Being one of the final classic Mercedes-Benz sports cars with a separate tubular chassis, the W198 300SL is constructed around a spaceframe chassis.

Power comes from the smooth 3.0 litre straight six fuel injected dry sump engine. Fitted with a ground-breaking Bosch mechanical direct fuel injection, which interestingly was derived from earlier systems on the Messerschmitt Bf 109E fighter plane of World War II. This 300SL was supplied new in America and moved at a point during its lifetime. The sports car travelled back to the spiritual home of Mercedes-Benz, Germany and now resides in the UK.

Here at Hilton and Moss, we have a long history of repairing and restoring all SL models including expert knowledge on the 300SL, 190SL, 280SL, R107 & R129 models. This deep-rooted experience and our client’s passion for their Mercedes SL brought us together, and after a thorough inspection, our team started a full body, chassis and mechanical restoration. A real enthusiast-owned car, our brief was to restore this 300SL back to factory condition, with a slight body colour change to Mercedes gunmetal grey which looks fantastic now. You cannot restore vehicles of this calibre by halves; the meticulous level of work carried out by our experienced technicians is a testament to our knowledge and history with the brand. As you will be able to see from our photos there was a great deal of serious corrosion issues visible once the body had been stripped down, with the floor pans and underbody suffering the most. A well-overlooked part of every classic and especially classic SL models due to exposure from the elements or previous patch-up repairs.

It goes without saying we must strive to keep as much originality as possible with every restoration, so repairing original panels is always the first approach to the bodywork. Beyond this, we fabricate our own panels in-house using modern and traditional tooling to replicate the original items. Further into the rebuild, the more extensively corroded panels are replaced using genuine Mercedes-Benz parts supplied by Mercedes Germany where available. As the 300SL models have a body-on-frame design our teams can remove the chassis and mechanical items as a complete unit and restore this whilst the body is undergoing restoration. The chassis itself had held up quite well, and our previous experience shows the chassis is normally less affected by corrosion than the body. This does change if models have been involved in previous road or race accidents and repaired to a substandard level leaving metalwork exposed to elements and structurally weakened. This 300SL Roadster’s chassis had faired well over its previous 59 years, but a previous rear-end shunt caused damage to the rear support sections underneath the spare wheel area.

A full strip-down of mechanical parts later, the chassis and substructure were sandblasted on site to remove previous coating and corrosion, exposing the bare steel. Our expert panel beaters removed the collision-damaged support and then welded in a new section along the factory joins, as so to keep the original rigidity of the chassis. Repaired and then recoated twice to increase corrosion damage protection, it was ready for the mechanicals to be refitted.

Achieving perfection - the complex mechanicals and advanced engine systems on the 300SL were and still are part of its continued success and enthusiastic owners' joy. Every part of this car has been passionately removed, stripped down, refurbished and rebuilt to replicate the day it left the factory, bar the exterior colour change, which as you will see improves the aesthetics and future value in today's world and market.

The 3.0 litre straight six engine is a joy to drive, our technicians have rebuilt a large number of Mercedes engines on previous restorations. They carefully refurbished and rebuilt the 59-year-old engine bringing it back to its former glory. As with all engine rebuilds it will require a run-in period to ‘bed in’ and a shake-down test to guarantee the quality and power of this beautiful 300SL. The 300SL’s factory mechanical fuel injection system did suffer from a common issue, when the engine is shut off fuel is pumped briefly into the combustion chamber. This un-burnt fuel can wash off the lubrication oil protecting the cylinder walls, which in turn can cause wear to the engine cylinders and after a prolonged time dilute the 10 litres of oil in a 300SL engine causing further issues. This can be reduced by certain driving techniques including making sure the SL is brought up to full operating temperature on every drive & make sure it is put through its paces on a regular basis. This 300SL's engine is now completely rebuilt as new, ready to enjoy many years of perfect motoring.

Lastly, the final stage nearing completion is the stunning red hide leather interior completely refurbished and replaced with matching leather. The pictures cannot do this justice; the smell of the leather adds so much to the experience of this SL, which must have been the attraction of previous SL owners, which include Pablo Picasso, King Hussain of Jordan and the Shah of Iran. A process our interior trimmer has much experience in is carefully fitting the new leather to the metal dashboard frame, when originally made the 300SL & 280SL models had the leather stretched and heated to fit correctly over the instrument frame.  This process if you look closely at unrestored models can cause the leather to appear wrinkled and over time can crack, our team take great care to rectify these issues and helps to build a car designed to last another 59 years. Hilton and Moss are always looking for further 300SL roadster or gullwing models to purchase or restore, please contact us to talk further.

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