It’s dubbed the Mona Lisa of cars.
On May 5, a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR became the world’s most expensive car after it sold for $142,000,000. Dubbed the Mona Lisa of the automotive industry, only two units of the car were ever made.
Motortrend writer Monica Gonderman compared the 300 SLR’s price to the original Shelby Cobra for context. It’s one of America’s most important sports cars and sold for only $13 million in 2016. “Add a zero to the end, and you’re still not there,” Gonderman wrote.
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Previously, the record-holder was a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO which cost $78,000,000 sold in a private sale.
So what makes this Benz special? Beyond its rarity and inventive exterior design, the 300 SLR is symbolic to the German Luxury vehicles company. It was based on their W196 Grand Prix single-seater, the car that took five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio to the second of his Formula 1 world titles.
In 2013, the W196 Grand Prix single-seater was auctioned for $29,650,095 and became the world’s most valuable car at the time.
However, despite being modeled after a race vehicle, it was adapted for road use to see how race engine engineering can be adapted to Mercedes-Benz’s road cars.
“If you had asked classic car experts and top collectors over the past half a century to name the most desirable car in the world, there’s a good chance that they would have come up with the same model: the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR,” British classic car collector and expert Simon Kidston said in a comment.
“It’s a combination of exotic engineering, all-conquering racing history, the power of the three-pointed star on its nose, and the fact that one had never, ever been sold.”
Kidston added that many collectors have tried “but failed” to acquire one of the two 300 SLRs.
However, it was the expert who assisted an undisclosed client through “diplomatic groundwork” to own the car.
As a result, Mercedes-Benz held a closed auction, where the vehicle officially became the world’s most expensive car. Meanwhile, in Stuttgart, the other 300 SLE sits in Mercedes-Benz’s car museum, exhibiting 1,100 cars dating back to 1886.
Banner photo from @weareink on Instagram.