Auction Preview and Price Predictions: Mercedes Collector Cars at RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island 2018
UPDATE: March 7, 2018 – Due to impending inclement weather, RM Sotheby’s has moved its auction to Friday, March 9 at 3:00pm. Preview times are Thursday from 10:00am – 8:00pm and Friday from 9:00am until the auction starts at 3:00pm.
RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island sale is coming up this week. The RM Sotheby’s sale is “The official auction of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance,” the Pebble Beach of the East Coast as I’ve heard it called. 2018 marks the 20th year for RM Auctions, now, RM Sotheby’s, at Amelia Island and they’ve got a solid event planned. They will be offering 103 automotive lots, 9 of which are collectible Mercedes-Benz cars. The sale itself begins at 10:30am on Saturday, March 10 with a couple of preview days leading up to sale day. Complete location, schedule and admission details are at the very bottom of this article. Here is a link to the online auction catalog at the RM Sotheby’s website.
This year’s sale is heavy on American full classics and European sports cars, specifically yellow air cooled Porsches, have a look at the catalog and you’ll see what I mean. A nice selection of Mercedes SLs from a 300 SL coupe and Roadster, a 190 SL, 280 SL and 560 SL, there is an SL for just about everyone. General stats on each car from the auction catalog is listed next to a photo with Mercedes-Market commentary and price predictions in italics. Which car(s) do you like in this sale? What kinds of prices to you think they’ll bring? Let us know by leaving a comment at the bottom.
Lot 109 – 1988 Mercedes-Benz 560 SL
Estimate: $70,000 – $90,000
Chassis No.: WDBBA48D4JA076089
- Blue Green Metallic (877) w/ Cream Beige leather
- Less than 3,000 original miles
- As-new condition throughout
- Recent major service
Exceptional 560 SLs have started to catch the eye of deep pocket collectors who aren’t afraid to pay up for a museum quality example of one of Mercedes’ most iconic post war body styles. If you’re a serious Mercedes collector and you want a trailer queen R107 in its most highly evolved trim, this is your car. A Blue Green Metallic 1989 560 SL with about 16,500 miles sold at Gooding and Co.’s 2014 sale in Scottsdale for $52,800, about the biggest number I had seen a 560 SL realize to that point. This car is the same color combination with a fraction of the miles and it’s probably destined to sit in a collection as a perfect example of its kind. I think this is one of the best color combinations for this car and it’s indicative of the late 80s. Collectors and enthusiasts seem to place a premium on the 1989 models, as it was the last year of production, but I don’t think this ’88 will be held back too far by that. Sale price prediction: $77,000.
Lot 126 – 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series Coupe
Estimate: $400,000 – $450,000
Chassis No.: WDDRJ7HA8EA010616
- One of 132 U.S.-delivery examples; 39 finished in Obsidian Black
- 2,000 original miles; as-new condition throughout
The SLS AMG Black Series is essentially a race car for the street with carbon ceramic brakes, all kinds of carbon fiber aero-dynamic extras as well as an engine tuned to 622 HP. There are a handful of SLS AMG Black Series cars on the market today, some with more miles, some with less than this car, most, with optimistic prices higher than the sale estimate here. Reviewing the Carfax for this car, it looks to have been owned for several years by its original owner, then registered in Montana, surely a Montana based LLC for car licensing reasons, and then through a couple of dealers. This isn’t an uncommon story for a car like this, each person along the line tries to make money reselling the car, a tough proposition with a car like this that is constantly depreciating as it’s no longer the flavor of the month for the exotic car crowd. This car appeared on eBay in early 2017 with about 1,700 miles with an asking price of $500,000. If it can be had under $450,000 I’d call it a good deal in the current market. Sale price prediction: $440,000.
Lot 155 – 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing
Estimate: $1,100,000 – $1,300,000
Chassis No.: 198.040.6500292
Engine No.: 198.980.10.002887
Body No.: A198.040.6500288
- Dark Blue (DB322) w/ oyster beige interior (originally Graphite Grey w/ Red leather)
- Replacement engine
- Restored in 1992-1994 by Kienle Automobiletechnik in Germany
- Air Conditioning tastefully installed during restoration
- Reconditioned in April 2007 by Kienle
- Driven 7,910 miles since restoration
There are few cars prettier than a 300 SL Gullwing and they look great in dark blue. While a careful reading of the catalog description informs us that this car isn’t ‘matching numbers’ and doesn’t have a known history prior to the early 1990s, since then, it has been treated quite well. A documented $700,000+ restoration by Kienle in the early 90s, back when these were just $250,000 cars, speaks to the ‘price no object’ approach the owners took with their Gullwing. It seems it was restored with a focus on driving enjoyment and aesthetics rather than complete correctness. This car was not originally fitted with Rudge wheels, disc brakes have been added, a nice upgrade, but again, not correct for the car, A/C was also added. This would make a wonderful car for someone who really wants to get out there and drive it as opposed to entering it in concours events. In today’s market the ‘improvements’ made to this older restoration and a non-original engine will hurt the selling price. If you’re not too concerned with complete authenticity, this could be a great car for you. Sale price prediction: $1,050,000.
Lot 156 – 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
Estimate: $1,000,000 – $1,200,000
Chassis No.: 198.042.7500182
Engine No.: 198.980.7500213
Body No.: A198.042.7500080
- Fire Engine Red (543) w/ saddle leather
- Restored and reconditioned by Kienle Automobiltechnik in Germany
- Same owners since 1991
- Original colors, with chassis, engine, and body numbers matching original build card
- Becker-Mexico radio
- Factory hardtop
This is the sibling to the blue 300 SL coupe, lot 155, belonging to the same Florida based couple. According to the auction catalog they acquired their roadster in 1991 from a local Florida dealer and promptly had it shipped to Germany for interior and chassis restoration work, there is no mention of paint or body work in the description. The engine was sent to Mercedes-Benz in Germany for rebuilding, the entire project took two years, the couple returned to Germany to pick up their car, toured Europe for a few weeks and shipped the car back home to the U.S.A. This car is a numbers matching example and seemingly more correct than their Gullwing, although disc brakes were fitted to the car to improve drivability. The car has covered just over 13,000 miles since the engine rebuild and while not used much in the past 7 or so years, is still in good, running and driving condition. Sale price prediction: $1,100,00.
Lot 157 – 1958 Mercedes-Benz 220 S Cabriolet A
Estimate: $200,000 – $250,000
Chassis No.: 180.030.8510470
Engine No.: 180.924.N8507740
Body No.: A180.030.8500415
- Dark blue exterior w/ red leather
- Full restoration by Kienle Automobiletechnik in Germany
- 6,622 miles since restoration
This is the third car from the same Florida based Mercedes enthusiast couple in RM Sotheby’s Ameilia Island sale. They found this one close to their home in Florida, bought it and shipped it off the Kienle in Germany in the early 90s for restoration like they did with their two 300 SLs. According to the auction catalog the color was changed from the original off white to the dark blue seen here, the red leather interior was replaced along with the interior wood and all mechanical systems, the engine was also rebuilt. The car is complete with much documentation back to its earliest days. These are pretty cars and with only 3,290 (including 220 SE fuel injected models) from 1956 – 1960, they’re fairly rare cars. They have the most incredible interior wood trim of any car as far as I’m concerned, a grab handle on the passenger’s side crafted out of wood that’s integral to the rest of the dash. The carbureted “S” models always trail the later, fuel injected “SE” models. I think this estimate is a bit aggressive for an older restoration. Sale price prediction is $188,000.
Lot 180 – 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 ‘Sunroof’ Coupe
Estimate: $150,000 – $200,000
Chassis No.: 111.026.12.001918
- Sunroof and A/C equipped
- Column shift automatic transmission
- Becker Grand Prix
- Cosmetic restoration in 2015
- Extensive historic documentation
The W111 Coupe is a great looking car and it looks fabulous in this dark blue color. The auction catalog mentions a repaint in the 1990s and another ‘full cosmetic restoration’ in 2015, they’re calling this color ‘Blue’ code 350. Code 350 is actually ‘Medium Blue’ and, I believe, a lighter color than what is on this car. A look through the history folder of the car could easily clear that up. The interior looks well fitted, the engine bay appears to have only be cleaned up with select refinishing of components, not fully disassembled for refinishing that one might expect from a ‘full cosmetic restoration.” Sale price prediction is $144,000.
Lot 191 – 1968 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL ‘Pagoda’
Estimate: $135,000 – $165,000
Chassis No.: 113.044.12.003075
- Beige Grey w/ Parchment MB tex interior
- Dark brown soft top w/ hard top
- Automatic transmission
- 24,342 miles indicated
This 280 SL is described as being ‘recently restored by marque experts’ in fact, Tony LaBella did the work to this car, so ‘marque expert’ is fitting. I like this color on a Pagoda SL, it’s understated and elegant, not a color you see often. I also like early 280 SLs without head rests. They look cleaner, especially with the top down, than later cars with head rests. There are some imperfections visible in some of the online auction catalog photos. Some of the interior chrome trim shows pitting, there are some paint imperfections just above the passenger’s rear tail lamp, where the chrome trim meets the body (my black 250 SL had this same type of paint flaw, in the same place) and the hood fit doesn’t look perfect in the photo taken directly from the front of the car. Still, it’s a nice looking car. This isn’t the first time Tony has rolled the auction dice at Amelia Island with a Pagoda SL. One of Tony’s 280 SL restorations was the last car to cross the block at Gooding and Co.’s 2015 Amelia Island sale, a 1970 model, the pre-sale auction estimate was $140,000 – $180,000. That car sold for $220,000, a home run, despite Tony being “a little bit concerned” knowing his car was going to be the last to cross the block that day. This car doesn’t look to be restored to the same level and the Pagoda SL market has cooled considerably since then. Sale price estimate: $125,000.
Lot 193 – 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster
Estimate: $350,000 – $400,000
Chassis No.: WDDAK76F19M001933
- One owner from new
- 2,280 original miles
- Special-order metallic red, reportedly the only such example
- Optional Sand Silver Arrow leather and black carbon trim
SLR McLarens have been underappreciated and underpriced for too long, just a few years ago they could be found in the mid to low $200,000s, but they’ve seen an uptick in price over the past couple of years. They are serious performance cars, built largely of carbon fiber, yet they trail their contemporary super car competitors like the Porsche Carrera GT and Ferrari Enzo in price. The Enzo was considerably more expensive when new, but the Carrera GT was similarly priced. I think an example like this, in a unique color, is a value if it sells within the pre-sale auction estimate. That said, I think they’re still under appreciated. Sale price prediction is $388,000.
Lot 201 – 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL
Estimate: $140,000 – $160,000
Chassis No.: 121.040.6502563
Engine No.: 121.921.6502615
Body No.: A121.040.6500667
- Matching-numbers chassis, engine, and body
- Includes factory hardtop, manuals, and tools
- Restored in the Netherlands
There isn’t much solid history about this car in the brief auction catalog description. It mentions that the car was owned by a family in California for most of its life then shipped off to the Netherlands for restoration. Looking at the timeline, it looks like it was sent to Europe for a restoration just as the 190 SL market was blowing up about 5 years ago. This car sold at RM’s Amelia Island sale in 2015 for $165,000, probably fresh off the boat from its restoration in Europe. Considering what it sold for at its last RM Sotheby’s auction, the pre-sale estimate reflects the ‘new’ 190 SL market. Without more details regarding correct and original colors, engine, and other details it’s tough to know what this one will sell for. The details that aren’t mentioned in the catalog description lead me to believe that there are details to be discovered by potential bidders to help inform their buying decision. Sale price prediction is $148,000.
RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island 2018 – “The official auction of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance”
Thursday, March 8 – Saturday, March 10, 2018
4750 Amelia Island Parkway
Amelia Island, FL 32034
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Public Preview 10:00am – 9:00pm
Friday, March 9, 2018
Public Preview 10:00am – 9:00pm
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Auction 10:30am – 3:00pm (approx.)
Admission is open to the general public during public preview hours only. Admission to the auction on Saturday, 10 March, is for registered bidders, consignors, and qualified media only.
BIDDER REGISTRATION – $300
Includes an official auction catalogue and admission for one bidder and one guest to the auction.
PUBLIC PREVIEW – FREE OF CHARGE
Photo Credits: All photos Courtesy RM Sotheby’s © 2018 – photos attributed to the photographers below by lot # where available.
Lots 109, 180, 191 – Erik Fuller
Lots 155, 156, 157 – Ryan Merrill
Lot 193 – Rick Minor
Lot 201 – Darren Schnabel