ourSL.com> 300SLR Chosen as most valuable automobile in the world!


300SLR Chosen as most valuable automobile in the world!

1955 Mille Miglia winner could fetch $42m!


Jamuary, 2009


It's official, at least according to UK's "Octane", the premier vintage car magazine. After consulting with top auction house experts and classic car traders worldwide, Octane has chosen an SL as the most valuable automobile in the world. Well, sort of...


Moss and Jenkinson hurling "722" during 1955 Mille Miglia.


This SL has an "R" connected to it, and does not refer to the 2005-2009 Mercedes-McLaren SLR but rather to the revered 1955 Mille Miglia winner of Stirling Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson. The revered "722" (all Mille Miglia cars were numbered according to their assigned starting times - 7:22 am in this SLR's case) 1955 300SLR raced its way into sports car racing immortality by covering 992 miles at an average speed of 97.93 mph over terrain that included cobblestone city streets and treacherous mountain passes. Moss's masterful driving was aided by the bearded Jenkinson's copious route notes unfurled from a device closely resembling a toilet tissue roll. With "Jenks" confidently signaling upcoming road conditions, Moss was able to blast the 309 hp SLR over blind brows without succumbing to his innate temptation to lift the throttle off the floor. The rest is, well...history.


Safely ensconced in MB Museum and likely never to be sold.


Octane values 722 at 30m pounds sterling (about $42m). Why so much? While Mercedes-Benz built (probably) about 3-4 300SLR roadsters, Moss sealed 722's legacy by dominating the world's most treacherous true over-the-road race during the golden age of automobile racing. The tragedy of LeMans 1955 ended the car's career and Mercedes-Benz's competition endeavors for three decades. An era had come to a close, and the Moss/Jenkinson 300SLR epitomized this golden age - Britain's most prolific Grand Prix driver piloting the era's most dominating competition car in the most romantic and dangerous road race.


722's value is a function of numbers available: historical value (virtually inestimable, although $42m speaks loudly here); and its most valuable trait - how often it will come to market. Some of Octane's 25 most valuable automobile types will occasionally come to market. This SLR never will. No chance. Never. Mercedes-Benz owns the car and will never sell it. It is considered part of the genetic makeup of the company, and if you arrived at the Museum with a leather satchel filled with 31.75m Euros you would be politely told "thanks, but no thanks."


The top five members of the list appear at the bottom of this page. I read with interest number three on the list, the voluptuous 1962-1964 Ferrari 250 GTOs. With just 39 constructed, the GTO is considered the epochal front-engine racing car that accumulated hundreds of victories in both private and factory hands. The GTO is the most gorgeous front-engine sports racing car ever constructed and emits the most glorious noises, whether you're inside the car or out.


#4 on the list at $28m. Bev Spencer leaves Hillsborough Concours in May 1963
in GTO s/n 4219. The car had been flown to SFO from Ferrari, arriving just
before dawn this day, still wearing racing numbers from last competition outing.


Ferrari expert Michael Sheehan further parsed the list of 39 examples to note the best of the bunch. He points out s/n 4219 is the most original of the 39 cars constructed. Interestingly, this author's father, Bev Spencer, owned 4219 in the early sixties. Spencer raced the car with local drivers - in Ferrari's NART (North America Racing Team) colors of white with blue stripes - with great success in 1963/1964. On idle non-race weekends Spencer drove the car on the street, much to the dismay of neighbors and local police, but to the delight of my brothers and me. Race preparation consisted of fresh pink Lodge spark plugs and maybe a new set of Dunlop R5 tires. This "race prep" was often carried out at the Spencer residence in Hillsborough, CA by my brothers. I'm leading you toward the whopper of all "cars we should have kept" stories. We all hear those from time to time.


Now in NART colors, Spencer's GTO eases out of the garage in Hillsborough
for pre-race street road test. Note black/yellow CA dealer license plate.


Spencer sold the car in early 1964 to Hillsborough neighbor George Dyer for $12,500, clearing the garage for another GTO, one of the three final LM (LeMans) style Series Two cars: #5571. Dyer used the car extensively for high speed road tours and noisy street use, selling the car in 1993 for just below $4m. He turned down $10m from a Japanese buyer in 1989. How much do our friends at Octane feel #4219 is worth today?? - a staggering $28m. I suppose we should have kept that car.


The Top 5 most valuable automobiles as per Octane magazine:

  1. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR "722": $42m
  2. 1935-1937 Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic: $35.5m
  3. 1962-1964 Ferrari GTO: $28m
  4. 1907 Rolls-Royce "Silver Ghost" # AX201: $21.3m
  5. Mid '30s Bugatti Type 41 Royale Cabrio: $21.3m


Roy Spencer,

editor www.ourSL.com




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