Mercedes-Benz sold an original 1955 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé, dubbed the “Mona Lisa of cars” because of its rarity and racing pedigree, for $142 million on May 5, the highest price ever fetched by a car at auction.
The car was sold to a private collector earlier this month for $142 million.
RM Sotheby’s Key Facts
The car was sold to a private collector on May 5 during a secretive auction put on by RM Sotheby’s and Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart, Germany, the auction house announced Thursday.
One of only two in existence, the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé is named after Rudolf Uhlenhaut, the German engineer who built the prototypes in 1955 with the company’s racing department, and has long been considered “the most beautiful car in the world,” RM Sotheby’s said in a statement.
The nine-figure price tag nearly tripled that of the previous auction record holder, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that fetched $48.4 million in 2018.
Mercedes-Benz was the car’s only previous owner, and stored it in one of the company’s vaults, while the other was used as Uhlenhaut’s personal car.
The funds will be used by Mercedes-Benz to establish a fund that will provide scholarships for young people studying environmental science and decarbonisation, the company said.
The buyer has agreed to allow the car to be put on public display for special occasions, RM Sotheby’s said.
The only other original 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé is also owned by the car maker, and is on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.
News of the auction came as a surprise to many car collectors, because Mercedes-Benz had previously refused to sell either of the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupés. The two car’s frames were set aside by Uhlenhaut during production to be transformed from Formula 1 cars to coupés that could compete in the open-road Carrera Panamericana race in Italy. The carmaker ultimately shuttered its racing division later that year after the 1955 Le Mans disaster, which killed Mercedes-Benz driver Pierre Levegh and 83 spectators. It remains the most deadly incident in motorsports history, and Mercedes-Benz only returned to racing in 1988.
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