1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL racing gullwingEnlarge Photo
A Santa Monica, California barn find may be the last of the truly great missing classic car discoveries: the only one of the 29 alloy-bodied 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL gullwing coupes not already accounted for.
Chassis number 21 was discovered at the original owner's garage through Rudi Koniczek, owner of restoration shop Rudi and Company and restorer of six other alloy-bodied 1955 300 SLs. It was stored behind huge stacks of ancient computer equipment, collecting a healthy sheath of dust, after its transmission went out in the early 1970s.
The owner, Tom Wellmer, had intended to repair the car and even managed to partially disassemble it, but somehow the project stalled and eventually was forgotten. It was so buried, Hemmings Blog reports, that it took three laborers two 10-hour days to clear away the surrounding computers so it could be inspected, and another day of moving to access the parts that had been taken off the car, stored on shelves at the back of the garage.
Koniczek has purchased the car to restore it, and already has a buyer lined up, even before the car has been restored. It's no wonder, as beyond the car's rarity, it also has a number of high-performance modifications from a standard 300 SL, including Plexiglas windows, sportier suspension, unique wheels, bigger brakes, and a hotter engine.
As awesome as this barn find is, Koniczek may be even cooler. Check out the video below, wherein he drives a 1957 300 SL Roadster chassis--naked--to shakedown the powertrain mid-restoration. Naturally, it's set to Kenny Loggins' Top Gun anthem, "Danger Zone."