If you think buying a new Merc is an expensive exercise, then spare a thought for the absolute madman who just bought a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé for a whopping €135 million (~US$142.8 million / AU$202.9 million).
The rare car, one of only two prototypes ever made and widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cars on the planet, was sold at an unusual semi-private RM Sotheby’s auction in Germany earlier this week to a private collector. Few thought Mercedes would ever allow one of the cars to be sold.
The proceeds of the sale will be used by the carmaker to establish a worldwide ‘Mercedes-Benz Fund’ that will provide educational and research scholarships in the areas of environmental science and decarbonisation for young people.
The Uhlenhaut Coupé’s sale price totally eclipses the price of the previously most expensive car sold at auction, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO also auctioned by RM Sotheby’s that went for US$48.5 million back in 2018. A 1963 Ferrari GTO was sold privately in 2018 for US$70 million, CNBC reports.
It’s not just the most expensive car ever, but also one of the top ten most valuable items ever sold at auction. It’s bloody mental.
Named after its creator and chief engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut (who used one as his personal car), the Uhlenhaut Coupé is a sort of SLR/SL hybrid, combining the insane performance of the 300 SLR and the W 196 R Formula 1 car – which the former was based on – with the good looks of the famous 300 SL.
The resulting coupé features a significantly more sculpted body than the 300 SL fitted over a slightly widened version of the SLR’s chassis, with the 300 SL’s signature ‘gull-wing’ doors still needed to clear its spaceframe’s high sill beams. These were intended to race in the Carrera Panamericana but were shelved in the aftermath of the 1955 Le Mans disaster and Mercedes’ withdrawal from competitive motorsport.
With a top speed of close to 290 km/h the Uhlenhaut Coupé was one of the era’s fastest road cars, and remains one of the most stunning pieces of automotive design ever.
The second original Uhlenhaut Coupé remains in Mercedes’ hands and will continue to be displayed at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.