A Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé from 1955 has been sold at auction for a record price of 135 million EUR to a private collector. This icon of automotive history is an absolute rarity – one of just two prototypes built at the time. Named after its creator and chief engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, it is considered to be one of the finest examples of automotive engineering and design by automotive experts and enthusiasts worldwide.
“The 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupés are milestones in sports car development and key historical elements that have shaped our brand. The decision to sell one of these two unique sports cars was taken with very sound reasoning – to benefit a good cause. The proceeds from the auction will fund a global scholarship programme. With the “Mercedes-Benz Fund” we would like to encourage a new generation to follow in Rudolf Uhlenhaut’s innovative footsteps and develop amazing new technologies, particularly those that support the critical goal of decarbonisation and resource preservation,” says Ola Källenius, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Group AG. “At the same time, achieving the highest price ever paid for a vehicle is extraordinary and humbling: A Mercedes-Benz is by far the most valuable car in the world.”
“As a global company and as a luxury brand we bear a great level of responsibility towards society,” says Renata Jungo Brüngger, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG for Integrity and Legal Affairs, who is responsible for the governance of the “Mercedes-Benz Fund“. “The proceeds from the sale of the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé provide us with a unique opportunity to strengthen our commitment with a long-term flagship project: We will establish the global scholarship programme “Mercedes-Benz Fund” supporting young people in their studies, commitment and actions towards a more sustainable future. We are convinced that access to education in these areas will be crucial in encountering the great challenges of our time and contribute to greater stability, prosperity and social cohesion.”
Seed capital for scholarship programmes from proceeds
The proceeds from the auction of the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé serve as seed capital for the global initiative. Mercedes-Benz is committed to investing additional resources in the coming years. The “Mercedes‑Benz Fund” will be divided into two sub-categories: University Scholarships in order to connect, educate and encourage students to realize/conduct research on environmental science projects and School Scholarships focussing on pupils to realize local environmental projects in their communities. The programme funds will be directed to individuals who otherwise do not have the financial means for their projects and career paths. The programme will go beyond financially supporting the young people and include extracurricular elements like Mercedes-Benz mentorships opening up new career prospects. The “Mercedes‑Benz Fund” will be jointly developed with and managed by an experienced partner which is currently being evaluated. The detailed set-up and roll-out planning as well as the partner organisation will be announced later this year.
History and auction of 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé
The sale of the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé took place on May 5th at an auction held at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in cooperation with renowned auctioneer RM Sotheby’s. The invitees were among selected Mercedes-Benz customers and international collectors of cars and art, who share the corporate values of Mercedes-Benz. The 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé sold at auction was part of the non-public vehicle collection belonging to Mercedes-Benz Classic, comprising more than 1100 automobiles from the invention of the automobile in 1886 until today.
“We are proud that we can contribute with our historical collection to this initiative connecting the past with the future of engineering and decarbonisation technology”, says Marcus Breitschwerdt, Head of Mercedes‑Benz Heritage. “The private buyer has agreed that the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé will remain accessible for public display on special occasions, while the second original 300 SLR Coupé remains in company ownership and will continue to be displayed at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.“
The special circumstances behind its creation, its unique design and its innovative technology have endowed the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé with a remarkable level of mystique that endures to this day. The design of the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé set benchmarks that put it among the world’s most significant automotive icons – not least on account of its distinctive “gullwing” doors. Added to this is the outstanding performance delivered by its thoroughbred racing technology. Together, both have secured the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé its acclaimed position in sports car mythology and a very special place in the hearts of Mercedes fans around the world.