UK classic and vintage restoration specialist Thornley Kelham has revealed their latest work, a completely restored 1957 Mercedes 300SL.
The unnamed owner of the beautiful Gullwing, a renowned collector and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance judge, wanted the car to be “perfect, period-correct, and finished in anything but silver”.
The car arrived in Thornley Kelham in a pretty tired condition, wearing headlights and taillights from the Roadster. It’s early history isn’t all that well documented, which led to the suspicion that this particular 300SL could have been some sort of a hybrid commission.
However, following a thorough inspection of the car, the truth emerged and it was much less special than originally thought: the car had suffered front and rear accident damage and had been repaired with Roadster parts.
The chassis was thankfully in good condition, but being 63 years old meant that the time for a complete rebuild had come. Thornley Kelham took apart everything, including the 3.0-liter straight-six engine, and started cleaning and crafting from scratch or replacing parts in the drivetrain to make sure the finished car runs like new.
“We spent hundreds of hours getting the details of this car exactly right while making sure it adheres to the same standard that every car we work on does – it has to look good, drive well, and is made to last”, said Simon Thornley, co-founder of Thornley Kelham. “This car has been enjoyed for over 60 years now, and we’re delighted to have extended its lifetime for many more years of pleasure for its owners.”
The owner opted for a period-correct Horizon Blue for the exterior and a cabin finished in blue plaid non-leather option. In order to get the finish perfect, the shop faced many challenges. The iconic gullwing doors required hours of careful adjustment while the ‘eyebrows’ above the wheel arches were also a particularly delicate operation. Later examples of the Gullwing had a lightly different ‘eyebrow’ design, so it was important to get it correct.
Buying parts alone cost more than six figures, which means that the whole restoration must have been one expensive process. The only things left behind were the bumpers, as the owner preferred the look of the Gullwing without them.