It’s the sort of thing that only Mercedes-Benz could really do.
On Thursday, at the Côte d’Azur’s new Maybourne Riviera hotel above Monte Carlo, Mercedes-Benz capped off its Capital Markets Day summit for investors with a couple of groundbreaking reveals. Formula 1 racers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell helped debut the all-electric Vision AMG concept car in what, on any other occasion, would be a truly grand finale.
This time, however, that reveal was succeeded by the unveiling of a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé, which became the most expensive car in history when it crossed the auction block for an astounding $142.8 million earlier this month.
It’s hard to believe that a car representing such a pivotal shift for AMG could be upstaged, but indeed it was. Less than an hour after the Vision AMG was made public, Ola Källenius, CEO of Mercedes-Benz, officially announced what’s claimed to be not just the world’s most expensive car sold at auction, but the priciest, period. The streamlined coupé fetched a record-obliterating $142.8 million at an invite-only event presided by RM Sotheby’s at the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart, Germany, on May 5.
The car is one of only two prototype racers developed by engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut and his team for the 1955 Carrera Panamericana. That year’s competition, though, was called off, and Mercedes abandoned motorsport entirely, all due to the infamous Le Mans tragedy that June where Pierre Levegh and his SLR catapulted into the crowd, killing the driver along with 83 spectators. Uhlenhaut’s project was subsequently shuttered and this particular example, fit with a 297 hp inline-eight engine mated to a five-speed transmission, came into his possession. The fact that its top speed was touted to be approximately 186 mph only added to this 300 SLR’s mystique.