1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe

History was made in May 2022 when a 1955 Mercedes-Benz, one of only two of a kind, was auctioned off for a staggering US$142 million, making it the most expensive car ever sold.

RM Sotheby's conducted the auction where the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut was sold to a private collector and brought in almost triple the previous record price for a car, which was held by a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that went for over $48 million in 2018.

The auction took place on 5th May at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, and was for invited guests only. The record price for a car also put it in the top 10 of most valuable items sold at auction in any category – quite an achievement indeed!

The car was named after its creator and chief engineer, Rudolph Uhlenhaut, and was one of only two prototypes built by the Mercedes-Benz racing department.

The buyer has since stated that the car will be accessible for public display on certain special occasions and the other SLR 300 Coupe is on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, being company-owned. Though not confirmed, it is rumoured that the buyer was a British collector.

Recognisable by its unusual lines and gullwing doors, the 300 SLR was apparently modelled on the W196 R Grand Prix race car, which won two Formula 1 world championships in 1954 and 1955 with Italian Juan Manuel Fangio driving.

The car does, sadly, also have somewhat of a dark history as tragedy struck in June 1955. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, French driver Pierre Levegh crashed a 300 SLR and was killed, along with 83 spectators. As a result of the deadliest tragedy in motor racing history, Mercedes-Benz withdrew from the sport for many years, only returning to competitive racing again in 1989.

According to RM Sotheby's, the proceeds from the auction will be used to establish a worldwide Mercedes-Benz Fund that will fund environmental science and decarbonisation research.

With a top speed of 180 mph and featuring a straight-8 engine, the 300 SLR was one of the fastest road cars during the 1950s, and now it has claimed the ultimate prize (for now at least) as the most expensive car in the world!

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