Restoration work at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Service Center uncovered a UNIQUE VEHICLE: a 300 SL with a Bavarian blue aluminum body.Bavarian blue is a special color. This is the blue of the lozenges in the coat of arms of the southern German free state. It’s the blue over the Allgäu Alps and Neuschwanstein Castle when the wind suddenly scatters the clouds to reveal the sky. Bavarian blue was a surprising color also for Adrian Gattiker, a 55-year-old businessman and owner of a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Until he decided to have the car thoroughly restored at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Service Center in Fellbach, he was the owner of a red Mercedes-Benz 300 SL from 1955. The special paint color DB 374, used only for a few Mercedes-Benz cars in the 1950s, was not the only surprise awaiting the Swiss Adrian Gattiker, who had acquired the 300 SL with the chassis number 198 043-55 00441 in May 2008 from its previous owners, an architect and his wife from Gstaad. Gattiker was prepared for surprise number two though, because the chassis number of his car indicated that it was one of only 29 coupés from the W 198 series which had a body made of aluminum, and not sheet steel, fashioned to fi t its tubular spaceframe.
The expert opinion requested from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Service Center in advance of full-scale restoration confi rmed what had been suspected: Gattiker’s 300 SL is an aluminum- bodied Gullwing. The special bodywork was released for production in a small series of ten units in June 1954 by Technical Director Fritz Nallinger “at the request of Export”. In January 1955 the head of Development and the motorsport section, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, asked that the number of units be increased to 25 to enhance the competitiveness in the production sports car class with the lighter aluminum 300 SL. In all, 29 Coupé models with a lightalloy body eventually were manufactured: 26 in 1955 and three more in 1956.However, until the restoration in Fellbach, which took ten months, Adrian Gattiker’s Gullwing was on the road with one of the heavier steel bodies: probably as the result of an accident, back in 1956 the original body was replaced by a standard body whose manufacturer’s number likewise is documented in the Mercedes-Benz Classic Archives. But the vita of this unique 300 SL no longer can be fully reconstructed. The vehicle, in the light-alloy version, with special highgloss paint fi nish, engine with special parts BA 10018, disc wheels with Rudge hubs, bumpers with overriders, plus a set of suitcases was earmarked for delivery to Georgetown, British Guiana.