Privacy Policy Create Site Map

Mercedes 300 SLR Uhlenhaut: Mona Lisa of Cars Rakes It In

Acts like an airplane but drives like a car

By Leo Shvedsky
June 09 2022
A silver sports carDescription automatically generated with low confidence
Perfection: Ultra-rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe (

As a card-carrying Car Enthusiast Extraordinaire, the mystery often on your mind has something to do with an innate curiosity about the most expensive car in the world, at any given moment, right? Is it a Rolls-Royce Boat Tail or is it a McLaren F1? Well, as of May 5, 2022, it’s neither, actually.  

In case you missed it, the most expensive car in the world is a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, sold last month to an anonymous collector for a cool $143 million (135 million Euro) at a secret, invitation-only auction supported by RM Sotheby’s at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart – British classic car dealer Simon Kidston claims to have placed the winning bid on behalf of a client, with proceeds from the sale benefitting Mercedes-Benz Fund’s scholarships for green automotive manufacturing. 

Rudolf Uhlenhaut and his 1955 progeny (Mercedes-Benz)

As of this writing, Elon Musk has yet to claim the purchase as his own (though we wouldn’t be surprised if he did; in fact, we’re more surprised he hasn’t implicated that he has, even if he didn’t). Regardless, we’re most interested in what it is about the car that makes it so valuable, although, we’re quite certain you, the dedicated enthusiast, already have an encyclopedic knowledge of the car’s intrinsic attributes that required, as Kidston put it, “18 months of diplomatic groundwork” advancing this secret and select auction.

World’s most expensive car (
World’s most expensive car (
To sum it up, the Mercedes 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe operates more like a small aircraft than a car – it’s actually one of only two prototypes manufacturered, a high-performance transport that, at 186 mph, is nearly as fast as a Cessna 172 Skyhawk operating at a max speed of 188 mph. Aptly, the car’s “Gullwing” SLRs, the class to which the Uhlenhaut belongs, is known for its doors that open upwards, as if to take flight like a bird or a plane.

A picture containing car, road, outdoorDescription automatically generated
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe: Gullwing doors redefine lift-off (

There’s an old adage in the car community that what you find in a Mercedes-Benz now is what you will find in every other brand five years from now. The reason for that adage, and not to be a walking-talking ad here, but it is that Mercedes-Benz really innovates and produces like no other brand. And the Mona Lisa, which is what the ’55 300 SLR is dubbed by most, is that legacy of innovation personified.  

Mercedes-Benz W196 Streamliner, Le Mans Decals
The incomparable W196 Streamliner ( 

As one of only two produced, the purpose of the build was to explore how the manufacturer could transfer some of its F1 in the form of the W196 into a road-legal form – ambitious considering Mercedes was thinking that way in 1955. The result of the development, led by and named after Mercedes Racing Director Rudolf Uhlenhaut, was a 302 hp, 0-60mph in 6.9 seconds beast, wrapped in a classic matte silver body that would give Leonardo himself reason for pause.  

Original blueprints (Mercedes) 

At the time the car was so extraordinary it was deemed too extraordinary for the road and never went into production. Thus, cementing it as a myth and a legend.  

Congrats to the Uhlenhaut’s newest owner – not only for the acquisition, but, with the purchase, the proceeds are a worthy cause. According to Mercedes-Benz, the proceeds from the Mona Lisa will fund scholarships supporting climate studies.  

Let’s hope the rest of the industry follows Mercedes on green philanthropy as well. 

Good vibes all around with this one.  



Featured Podcasts