RM Sotheby’s has just crowned the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé as the most expensive in the world. Selling for €135 million (roughly $223.8 million NZD at current exchange rates) in an exclusive auction at the Mercedes-Benz museum earlier this month. The final sale price does not only make it the most expensive car in the world to date, but it’s one of the top ten most valuable objects ever sold.
The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé is one of two examples built by famed engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut. It combines the iconic silhouette of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing” with racing hardware that includes an enlarged version of a contemporary Formula 1 engine found in the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racer.
The SLR is most famous for winning the World Sportscar Championship in 1955, but was retired a few months later after a terrible crash at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. On that fateful day, a Mercedes-Benz driven by Pierre Levegh crashed and was launched into the crowd, killing 83 spectators and injuring a further 180. To this day, it’s the most deadly crash in motorsport history, and the tragedy caused Mercedes to withdraw from racing entirely until 1989.
The auction was strictly invitation only, for customers Mercedes trust can take care of such a car. The proceeds of the sale are to establish a scholarship fund devoted to providing education and research scholarships in environmental science.