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Mercedes-Benz made some of the finest cars ever to roll the blacktop. But when we think of the most expensive cars ever sold, most folks don’t think of Mercedes. Other European brands like Ferrari, Bugatti, or Lamborghini jump to the front of the list. However, rumors suggest that a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “Silver Arrow” racing car has sold for $142M, more than doubling the rumored record of $70M set by a Ferrari 250 GTO in 2018. 

This 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR "Silver Arrow" is the most expensive car ever sold
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Silver Arrow 2 | Mercedes-Benz / James Lipman

Where did the most expensive car ever sold come from? 

Hagerty explains that a lot of this information is rumored and speculative. Soon, we should get more clarity on what exactly happened or didn’t. This is what we know as of now. 

As noted by Hagerty, what’s weirder than the astronomical price tag, is the fact that this car came from Mercedes-Benz’s private collection. Roughly 10 individuals were supposedly invited to Merc’s museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Needless to say, these individuals were selected based first on who could afford such a car and secondly if they were the right person to care for the Arrow, by Mercedes’ standards. 

Hagerty mentions Mercedes’ second criteria: “The company wanted to ensure that any custodian of the Silver Arrow racing car would lavish it with the same care and attention as Mercedes and continue to share the car at events and not sell it on to a third party.” As with any purchase this large, the cost is greater than $142M. Mercedes is far too proud of their factory racer to let it fall into disrepair or get painted purple by some 17-year-old YouTuber

What makes this 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL so special? 

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Silver Arrow from behind
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “Silver Arrow” | James Lipman

The “Silver Arrow” isn’t just a Mercedes 300 SL – if there is such a thing as “just a Mercedes 300 SL” – This is the fire-breathing coupe that claimed 9 out of 12 F1 Grand Prix and two back-to-back world championships for driver Juan Manuel Fangio in 1954 and 1955. 

The 300 SLRs were dominating the sports car racing world too. According to Hagerty, the 300 SLR won one of the most famous road races in history: Stirling Moss’s Mille Miglia success with Dennis Jenkinson in the passenger seat in May 1955. Within a month of that landmark race, a pair of Mercedes 300 SLR led the 24 of LeMans race. One of them collided with an Austin Healy. This sent the Healey flying into the crow killing 84 people and injuring many others. 

This tragic accident caused Mercedes to park its racing cars for over three decades. However, Mercedes built two 300 SLRs with hardtops (known as Uhlenhaut Coupes after the head of the test department, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, who drove one as a company car).

We’ll have to watch this one closely

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR "Silver Arrow"
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “Silver Arrow” | Mercedes-Benz / James Lipman

These factory racers are so valuable because, according to Karl Ludvigsen – one of the most respected automotive historians in the field – “I haven’t heard of a direct sale such as you [Hagerty] suggest. The reason for a high price would simply be that they are never sold,” he told Hagerty. 

“If a W196S 300SLR went private, it would be a HUGE sensation. The Mercedes-Benz cars in question are those of the so-called Silver Arrow era from 1954 to 1955, only Grand Prix cars and the 300SLR sports cars. All the other Mercedes-Benz racing cars have been sold off in period and/or available to the open market, as far as I know.” 

There are strong leads on who could have bought this monumental car. After all, there can only be one “most expensive car ever sold” at a time. If this 300 SLR “Silver Arrow” rumor proves true, then sayonara Ferrari 250 GTO. 


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