Listed without reserve, this Mercedes-Benz 300SL 'Gullwing' sold for $1.7 million - much to the seller's relief! Its original upper estimate was $1.3 million.

Life is full of risk, and the auction house can be as big a gamble as entering a casino. A seller willing to offer a valuable lot without reserve is like someone putting their faith in ‘0’ at the roulette wheel. Luckily for the people responsible for this glorious Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, such a gamble paid off with the car selling for $1,701,000.

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Part of the 13-strong classic Mercedes-Benzs making up the Wiesenthal Collection was auctioned by Dorotheum, this numbers matching Gullwing car was the centrepiece.

This example was built in 1955 and the 200th produced out of around 1400 coupés. 1955 was a boom year for 300SL production thanks to America, where 80% these cars were originally sold. It was delivered new to Ambie Collins of New York State, USA and then changed hands twice before heading to Vienna, Austria and joining the Wiesenthal Collection in 1979.

No reserve Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing smashes estimate
No reserve Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing smashes estimate
No reserve Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing smashes estimate

Even before joining the collection, the interior had been restored, replacing the original chequered fabric seats with black leather. In 1992 the bodywork was the focus of a detailed restoration that is well documented with pictures and paperwork of each stage. An overhaul of the engine in 2000 preceded the car’s entry into various rallies including Alpenfahrt, Ennstal Classic, and most notably the Mille Miglia. Pleasingly, the car has covered 20,000 miles over the past 20 years, as opposed to remaining a static museum piece.

The Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing was the fastest production car in the world at its introduction in 1954. Derived from the W194 racing car, this road-adapted GT car made its debut at the 1954 New York Auto Show. The 3.0-litre machine proved hugely successful over its two-year production run between 1955 and 1957.

No reserve Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing smashes estimate

A roadster variant replaced the Gullwing, of which there was also an example up for auction in this collection, selling for €1,123,000 (£999,000 / $1,281,000). Joining both iconic SL cars were 11 other historic Mercedes models such as a 1965 230 SL, 1952 300 S Roadster, and a 600 Pullman to name but a few — all sold without reserve.

The 300SL Gullwing had an estimate of €900,000 — €1,200,000 ($1,025,000 - $1,366,500, £801,000 - £1,068,000) but sold for considerably more. The hammer fell at €1,492,000 ($1,701,000 / £1,327,000) which is about the typical value of a Gulling in excellent condition.

We bet the seller breathed a sigh of relief.

Gallery: No reserve Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing smashes estimate