Few vehicles are as iconic in history as the
sinuous Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe. From its successes in
racing with the SLR variants to its place as a status symbol of the
1950s and still today, the 300SL car requires no introduction; it is
therefore no surprise that some would try to emulate the "Gullwing"
design. What we have here is a uniquely Californian creation - a hot
rod Gullwing special that exudes the style of the original, but
underneath lies a very serious and potent road racing machine.
The story goes that, back in 1958, an unidentified racer pulled a mold
off of a 300SL, perhaps with the idea of emulating the success of
Chuck Porter's SLS, which was well-known in SCCA road racing circles,
or Ak Miller's Pikes Peak Special. One body shell was supposedly
completed before its builders were threatened with a lawsuit from
Mercedes-Benz; they promptly scrapped the project and left the
completed shell abandoned in a San Gabriel valley backyard, where it
languished for 55 years. When discovered by Dave Wolin, it was
surrounded by bushes and weeds and had a tree growing through it!
With the help of some talented fiberglass experts and professional
fabricators, the body shell was rejuvenated. The creators then built a
current design chassis and added a new small block Chevrolet 350ci
crate motor and Richmond Gear four speed transmission and a Speedway
Engineering quick change rear end with limited slip.
The chassis, a multi-tube structure similar to current Trans Am and
NASCAR road course designs, is powdercoated, with complete heim
jointed suspension and coilover shocks; unequal length a frame
suspension in the front, 4 link suspension in the rear and Woodward
rack and pinion steering. The drivetrain includes an alloy flywheel,
Ram competition clutch and hydraulic throwout bearing, GM disc brakes
and an alloy competition quality driveshaft. The fuel system includes
an SCCA / NASCAR legal fuel cell and aeroquip stainless braided hose
throughout. Wheels are 17" Halibrand replicas by P.S.
Engineering. All mechanical components, including engine,
transmission, and rear end were brand new at the time of construction.
The color scheme and logos reflects the Mercedes Le Mans team cars of
1957. Since completion in 2010, total use has amounted to six
hillclimbs and four races. A very competitive race car indeed, it won
the class championship in the Northwest Hillclimb series and has raced
with NCRC and Speed Ventures, also winning awards at numerous auto
shows. For someone looking for the ultimate track day car that still
retains plenty of style, this Gullwing appears to be the ideal
choice. And it can easily be converted for road use.