Collectible Mercedes Benz at the Bonhams Auction Scottsdale 2018
Next week Bonhams will be offering 111 collector cars at their annual Scottsdale, Arizona sale at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. Of those 111 collector cars crossing the Bonhams auction block five will be Mercedes-Benz including the first 300 SL roadster exported to the U.S. market, a 1953 220 Cabriolet A, two W111 cabriolets – a 3.5 and a 2.8 6 cylinder, a 190 SL. I was surprised to see no Pagoda SLs in the Bonhams catalog, as they usually have at least one 280 SL available at their Arizona sale.
This article highlights the various Mercedes being offered at Bonhams Auction Scottsdale 2018. There is a brief description with highlights of each consignment. I’m going out on a limb this year and including my sale price / high bid predictions for each car, you’ll see my comments and dollar figures at the end of each profile. At the very bottom of the article you’ll find the event schedule, location and all the other information you’ll need if you’re interested in attending.
Lot 10 – 1953 Mercedes-Benz 220 Cabriolet A
Chassis no.: 187 012 03 412
Engine no.: 180 920 03 536
Estimate: $200,000 – 250,000
- Hellblau (DB 353) w/ red leather
- Fully documented, numbers matching example
- Restored in Germany 2005 – 2012
- Options include Becker Monaca, passenger’s side head rest
- Fitted luggage
- Detachable hard top
Originally delivered to the U.S. with some interesting options. Auction catalog describes a large history file and photo documentation of the restoration that was undertaken in Germany before the car was shipped back to its Colorado based owner in the U.S. They made less than 900 220 Cabriolet As in the early 1950s. They are more desirable than their 170 brethren due to their larger engine, although they are still fairly slow and primitive (be sure to apply the brakes EARLY!) as they’re essentially a carry-over from the pre-war era. They are great looking and have vintage charm like few other Mercedes. For the money, they make quite a splash at MBCA events and local Concours.
The color of this car appears quite elegant in the catalog photos, I’ll look forward to seeing this one in person. 220 Cab As don’t come up for sale all that often. I don’t think this car should have any trouble meeting its low estimate, a sale price close to $225,000 is realistic if all is in order.
Lot 22 – 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet
Chassis no.: 111027.12.000998
Engine no.: 116980.12.000789
Estimate: $300,000 – 400,000
- Less than 58,000 miles from new
- Originally Medium Blue (DB 396) w/ blue leather and soft top (color changed to white)
- Floor mounted auto. trans.
- Becker Radio, A/C
Cosmetically restored in the early 2000s, the car has passed through several owners since, each tending to various mechanical components along the way. It is said to have a good amount of documentation and its accessory tool kit is present.
It seems there isn’t a whole lot of history for this car prior to its acquisition in the 2000s, however miles are believed to be original. A close look through the history file during the preview would be a smart move, as with any auction car, to judge the records for yourself. The 3.5 convertible market skyrocketed between 2010 and 2015… going from, maybe, $50,000 cars to $300,000+ cars in just a few years. They seemed to be a Mercedes EVERY collector wanted to have in their collection. Even non-Mercedes collectors wanted the ultimate 4 door convertible from Mercedes. I sold one several years ago to a gentleman who claimed he was ‘mostly a Ferrari collector.’ When I asked how the 3.5 would fit into his collection he replied, “The 3.5 will sit between my 300 SL Coupe and Roadster, those will be my three Mercedes.”
The right 3.5 cabriolet can still bring $300,000 in today’s market. This car isn’t completely original nor a complete restoration, so it’s hard to say what number it will bring. The low mileage helps, but the catalog description doesn’t mention true, iron-clad history back to day 1, and you need that to get top dollar. I think this one will top out at $285,000.
Lot 30 – 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster
Chassis no.: 198.042.7500081
Engine no.: 198.980.7500097
Estimate: $1,400,000 – 1,700,000
- Anthracite grey w/ black leather (color change)
- The first 300SL Roadster exported to the U.S. Market
- Matching numbers, fully documented history
- First 300 SL exported to the U.S. Market
- Same owner 50+ years
- Many unique ‘early-production details’
This car was sold at Gooding and Company’s Amelia Island sale in 2013 for $726,000. Back then, it was sold as a ‘garage find’ in its original red color. I referred back to the June 2013 issue of Sports Car Market magazine where SCM reported on the Amelia Island auctions. Interestingly, they considered this roadster a ‘Best Buy’ of the auction.
The collector who bought the car in 2013 had it restored by Mark Allin’s ‘Rare Drive’ in New Jersey, at which time the exterior color was changed to the Anthracite Grey we see today. The odometer reads 55,889 miles which is believed to be original. Buying a beat up 300 SL, paying for a restoration and coming out on top financially isn’t an easy thing to do. I don’t think color changing the first 300 SL roadster ever exported to the U.S. was a smart move. Unfortunately, in the ‘new 300 SL market’ of today, I don’t think this car will meet its lofty low estimate number. $1,250,000 is where I think bidding will stop, will that be enough to sell it? We’ll see at the auction.
Lot 35 – 1962 Mercedes-Benz 190SL
Chassis no.: 121040.10.024869
Engine no.: 121928.10.002772
Estimate: $80,000 – 100,000
- Fire Engine Red (DG 534) w/ tan leather and soft top
- Red hard top
- Unknown history until the mid 1980s, several owners since
- Documented restoration in 2004
- Weber carburetors
Handsomely presented in red over tan leather, equipped with both tops, this looks like a nice 190 SL. The history of the car isn’t especially intriguing, it’s equipped with Weber carbs instead of its original Solexes. The catalog description doesn’t mention whether or not the red color is correct for this car, however the body tag does denote 534, Fire Engine Red.
The auction estimate of $80,000 – $100,000 isn’t unrealistic, but never the less, with Weber carbs and an unknown early history, I think it will be lucky to reach its low estimate. In fact, I think it might fall short by a little, selling in the range of $75,000. There are just too many 190 SLs on the market that are very similar to this one.
Lot 90 – 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE Cabriolet
Chassis no.: 111025.12.004359
Engine no.: 130980.12.030616
Estimate: $130,000 – 160,000
- Dark Olive (291H) w/ Cognac leather
- 54,831 miles (believed original)
- Behr A/C, Becker Grand Prix
- Books and tools
According to the auction catalog “Much of the car’s history remains unknown, but the current owner purchased the vehicle out of the estate of a Cornell University professor, who we are led to believe is the original owner. Just 54,831 miles are recorded on the odometer at time of cataloguing – a figure which is indeed believed to represent the cars actual mileage.” That’s a lot of ‘believeds’ and ‘indeeds‘ in the history of this car
This is a great coor combo of an under-appreciated version of the W111. Everyone focuses so much on the more expensive 3.5 convertibles, some people say the 280 SE 6 cylinder cars are actually better drivers. This car is referred to as a ‘highly original’ example which I think helps its chances of a good sale number, as it is being offered without reserve. I’d be surprised if it reaches the optimistic estimate range. I sold one of these not too long ago that could be described in a very similar fashion. That car sold for just under $100,000. This car will probably do more than that, something between $110,000 and $120,000 probably.
Bonhams Pavilion on the Pittman Lawn
of The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
6902 E Greenway Parkway
Scottsdale, Arizona 85254
Tel: (415) 391-4000
Tuesday January 16, 9am to 6pm
Wednesday January 17, 9am to 6pm
Thursday January 18, 9am to 11am
Thursday January 18, 11am
• $100: Bonhams Scottsdale Auction Catalog
set, allows two people entry
• $20: Gallery Guide, allows one person entry
Bidder Registration Fee
• $150: includes the Scottsdale Auction
Catalog set, a Gallery Guide and entry for
Photos: Courtesy Bonhams Auctions