Mercedes Confirms $143M 300 SLR Auction Sale, Will Start Scholarship Fund

Daniel Golson Former social media editor
3 min read
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe front view with gullwing doors open
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1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe front view with gullwing doors open

This is the most expensive car ever sold.


What's happening

One of two Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes ever made has sold for $143 million at auction.

Why it matters

It's the most expensive car ever sold.

What's next

The proceeds will be used to start a scholarship fund for environmental research.

Last week we reported on rumors that Mercedes-Benz sold one of the two 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes ever made in what would be the most expensive sale of a car of all time, and on Thursday the sale was officially confirmed by Mercedes. At 135 million euros or the equivalent of about $143 million, the Uhlenhaut Coupe was sold at auction to a private collector and the proceeds will fund a good cause.

The auction was held on May 5 at the Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart, with auction house RM Sotheby's facilitating the sale. Fewer than a dozen collectors of art and automobiles were invited to Germany to participate in the auction, and Mercedes required the buyer to display the car at events and special occasions, not just keep it hidden away in a secret garage. The sale bests the old highest auction result for a car by nearly $100 million, as the record was previously held by a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that sold in 2018 for around $48.4 million, while the highest private sale was $80 million for a different GTO.

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe (side view)

It's spectacular.


With a top speed of 180 mph, the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was the fastest road car in the world at the time, and it's far more than just a modified 300SL Gullwing. It's named after Daimler-Benz's motorsport chief Rudolf Uhlenhaut, who developed the cars from the chassis of the Silver Arrow Formula 1 race car. Just two were built in total, versus seven 300 SLR Roadsters and 10 Silver Arrows, with Uhlenhaut using one as a daily driver after Mercedes pulled out of motorsport in 1955. The car sold is "The Red One," named as such for its red interior, while "The Blue One" will remain in Mercedes' hands and continue to be displayed at the museum.

Mercedes is using the seed capital from the sale to start the global Mercedes-Benz Fund, which will fund research and education scholarships focused around sustainability. The fund will be split into two sections, with school scholarships focusing on students working on local environmental projects and university scholarships focused on higher-education students conducting environmental science projects. Mercedes says the fund will be jointly managed by an as-yet-unnamed partner, with the roll-out plan to be detailed in full later this year.

While it's not extremely unprecedented for a company to sell off pieces of its collection, the fact that Mercedes was willing to get rid of one of the Uhlenhaut Coupes is still pretty shocking. It's an extraordinarily special piece of machinery, so it's no surprise that it would demolish the existing sales records, but it's the kind of car no one expected to go up for sale. Not only is it the highest price ever paid for a vehicle, but it's now one of the 10 most expensive items ever sold at auction, period. Will this kickstart the era of the $100 million car? It's hard to imagine anything beating this 300 SLR anytime soon, but we're sure to see more incredible cars start going for absurd prices in the near future.

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe with Rudolf Uhlenhaut.

The car with its namesake.