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Victoria-restored 1956 Mercedes-Benz sells for record $3.5M at auction

The purchaser, who wanted to remain anonymous, is an 80-year-old car collector from Minnesota

A classic 1956 Mercedes-Benz that underwent a complete restoration in Victoria has sold for a record $3.4 million US at a collector-car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Only 311 examples of the 300SL gullwing coupe left the factory in 1956.

The seller was Victoria-based Tim Quocksister, owner of Silver Arrow Cars, who deals primarily in rare luxury cars.

The purchaser, who wanted to remain anonymous, is an 80-year-old car collector from Minnesota.

He has 130 vehicles in his collection and the 300SL was the last car on his bucket list, said Quocksister, who bills himself as the go-to person when it comes to the 300SL, usually selling 12 to 15 of them a year to ­customers throughout North America.

The car was sold at the Barrett-­Jackson Scottsdale ­auction, which took place Jan. 20 to 28 and sold a record-breaking $207.6 million worth of vehicles.

“This car sold so well because of a perfect storm with four major bidders,” said Craig Jackson, president and CEO of the auction house.

“Quocksister brought this incredible car that certainly raised the bar. We in turn appreciate him trusting us with getting the highest dollar for it.”

Quocksister had purchased the 1956 Mercedes from the estate of a collector in 2020.

While the car was in relatively good condition for its age, he decided it could be better. He handed the car over to Coachwerks, a Victoria automotive restoration shop that specializes in hand-built and limited-production collector cars, for a three-year frame-off restoration that saw the car disassembled to its nuts and bolts.

After 4,000 hours of work by a team of 30 specialists, it’s considered to be in “better-than-new” condition. More than 3,000 pictures were taken of the vehicle during its transformation.

“It was restored to absolute perfection,” said Quocksister, who has been in the automotive industry since 1997.

David Hargraves, manager at Coachwerks, said he remembers the day Quocksister brought in his first 300SL, more than 20 years ago. “I also remember celebrating when one of our cars first broke a world record, selling for $525,000 in 2005. We thought that record would stand for eternity — and here we are today.”

The current car’s selling price has broken every world record, said Quocksister, with the last 300SL selling for $1 million less.

He attributes the record price to the high restoration level, for which he credits Coachwerks. “While I am happy, I am ­happiest for the folks at ­Coachwerks. This sale recognizes their ­talent and helps put them on the national stage.”

Of the 1,200 Mercedes-Benz 300SLs still in existence, more than 100 from all corners of North America have found their way to Victoria for maintenance, repair or restoration.

Owners in Europe typically take their cars to Mercedes-Benz’s in-house restoration shop in Fellbach, Germany.

Not many 300SLs come up for sale because they mostly are in private collections — and people seldom give them up.

“They are an investment for some people — they are more rare than a blue-chip investment,” said Neil Gurton, restoration co-ordinator at Coachwerks. “They are seen as the best in the world, with every serious collector wanting to have one in their collection.”

The restoration company ­typically has about 60 projects on the go, with three 300SLs in various stages of restoration in the shop currently.

parrais@timescolonist.com

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