The rumor has been permeating through the car world for a while… Somewhere on the 42,000 sq. mile island of Cuba there supposedly sits a rotting Mercedes-Benz 300SL. Automotive photographer Piotr Degler decided he was going to seek it out, along with 11 other cars for his 2015 calendar, but would he find this mythical car or have to settle for something else?
It looked as if the car really was just a myth until after a few weeks of searching he saw a little silver and rusted metal hiding under a banana tree. It was, indeed, a gullwing Merecedes-Benz 300SL.
In case you didn’t spend all Thanksgiving watching Mecum auction re-runs like we did, the Benz gullwing still commands a ridiculous price, almost always well-into the millions, like this 1955 300SL Gullwing that sold for $1,075,000 last August at the Mecum auction in Monterey:
Mecum on what makes these cars so iconic:
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing was one of the automotive sensations of the 1950s and today remains one of the most iconic cars of the entire 20th century. Inspired by the lightweight racing coupes that dominated the Carrera Panamericana, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Mille Miglia and the Nürburgring 1000 Kilometers in 1952, the 300SL actually improved on the performance of the racers with the use of Bosch fuel injection on the slanted three-liter inline-6 engine which, in addition to the gearbox, independent front suspension and swing-axle rear end were borrowed from the 300 S saloon model for budgetary reasons. The famed gullwing doors were necessitated by the 300SL’s novel multi-tubular space frame, which incorporated stressed side sections for increased structural rigidity. The subsequent high side sills dictated that the doors be hinged on the roof, actually constituting the side windows and part of the roof itself.
Unfortunately, this Gullwing looks like it might be too far gone for restoration and bringing in the big $$...
The discovery of the car was just the icing on the cake for his month-long, 3,000 km tour of Cuba for his calendar Carros de Cuba, a calendar featuring the wonderfulness that is a Cuban automotive scene as it remains stuck in the 1950s.
Delger describes the 2015 calendar, Carros de Cuba:
It is not easy to summarize a month with only 12 snapshots. On the one hand, photographs showing the human side, the people, the environment, cars maintained with inventiveness and necessity for decades, real gems stored in garages away from prying eyes ... On the other hand, obsolescent cars showing what they once were and dreaming of what they could be again. Natural and improvised photographs, no forced elements placed in the frame for the occasion, everything happened by chance, natural colors, unretouched photographs, the picture shows respectfully the reality as it is.
If you love fantastic automotive photography, the Carros de Cuba calendar will make each day and month of 2015 a little brighter. This calendar isn’t your standard auto-parts-store sponsored calendar full of lame, overused pictures of hot rods or supercars, this is truly 12 months of automotive art. Hop over to Delger’s website to order your calendar.
STORY UPDATE! The rare Gullwing is just one of SEVERAL ultra-valuable cars on the same site, rusting away. Read more in this follow-up...
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