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These wheels of fortune are turning in Mercedes-Benz’s favor.
The German automotive brand confirmed that it has sold a luxury car for a mind-boggling $142 million (135 million EUR), shattering the previous record for the most expensive vehicle ever sold.
“We [wanted], with one single act, to demonstrate the power of the Mercedes brand,” said their chairman, Ola Källenius, in a statement following the closed invitation auction on May 5 at the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart, BNN Bloomberg reported. The event was held in collaboration with car auction firm RM Sotheby’s.
The automobile in question was an ultra-rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé, one of only two ever manufactured. Mercedes hasn’t divulged the buyer’s identity; however, the auction reportedly featured around a dozen bidders with multiple Swiss-Italian, English and US Mercedes-Benz collectors being floated as possible purchasers.
With the sale, the car company topped — nearly three times over — the previous public record of $70 million, shelled out in 2018 for a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO. Proceeds from the sale will reportedly go toward establishing the Mercedes-Benz Fund, a global scholarship fund aimed at helping cash-strapped students achieve their career dreams, per a Mercedes press release.
The price may seem steep, but auto aficionados claim that the figure is appropriate given the caliber of the car, which can travel up to 186 mph.
“That car is 100% worth what it sold for,” said rare automobile broker Stephen Serio. “Nobody ever thought Mercedes would sell it.”
Indeed, the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR’s value is due, in part, to the fact that the vehicle is exceedingly rare. Of the nine 300 SLR cars made, there were only two SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé prototypes, which derive their name from Mercedes’ famed test department head, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, according to BNN Bloomberg’s report. He used one of the models as the company car, while the second haute rod is stored safely away in the company vault.
“Their racing cars from the 1930s and 1950s are rare, and most are still owned by the factory, so any that come to market are highly sought after,” Hagerty’s Brian Rabold told CNN.
Fortunately, the recent purchase doesn’t preclude back seat car buffs from ever seeing this automotive holy grail again. Per the conditions of the sale, the Uhlenhaut will stay on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum, alongside the second SLR coupe, while the anonymous owner will get the opportunity to occasionally — and very carefully — take their vintage whip for a spin.