1955 Mercedez-Benz 'The Mona Lisa of Cars' Sells For $142 Million

From James Bond's suave Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger to the McClaren F1 that sold for $20.5 million at a Pebble Beach auction, the list of exorbitantly-priced, luxury automobiles beloved by motorheads is ever-expanding. But while there's a seemingly endless variety of jawdropping sought-after designs, one elegant decades-old motorcar stands out from the pack. It's none other than the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé — a classic design from 1955. Dubbed the "Mona Lisa" of cars, the auto world halted when this fine specimen was announced to go up for auction. Then, as expected, a heated bidding war broke out over who would get to drive away with the prestigious vehicle...

A once-in-a-lifetime find

One of only two 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé ever made, this marked the first time the model was ever put up for sale. Seeing as both cars were retained by Mercedes since their release, the model has become one of the world's most desired vehicles. With its instantly recognizable wing doors and the iconic three-pointed Mercedes Benz nose star, the car is celebrated for its ingenious engineering and racing pedigree. While many collectors have desperately attempted to purchase it, each has failed. That is until RM Sotheby’s arrived on the scene.

The auction

On May 5, 2022, at the Mercedes­-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, RM Sotheby’s in partnership with Mercedes-Benz held an auction for the "Mona Lisa" car. While it seemed as if the car manufacturer would never agree to sell the car, British expert Simon Kidston gave his view about how they managed to pull the auction off. "If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. A long-standing relationship with the Mercedes-Benz Museum helped, but even after 18 months of patient lobbying, we didn’t know if or how they would consider letting the 300 SLR out of captivity until just before it happened." Clearly, the auctioneer's persistence paid off. But it wasn't just the car's esteemed reputation that made the auction so historic.

Making history

While the bids for the classic car poured in, it ultimately took one monstrous offer to fend off the competition. The winning bid, organized by Kidston for a private client, came in at a whopping $142 million. It made the Mercedes-Benz model the most expensive car ever purchased in history. Even more impressive, the sale exceeds the previous record by over $64 million! Following the sale, RM Sotheby's revealed yet another impressive fact about the ultra-expensive car.

A world-beater

According to the renowned auction company, the existing record was set in 2018, when a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO was purchased for $78 million as part of a private sale. Not only did the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé sale almost double the record, but the car is in the top ten most valuable items ever sold at auction. But now that the auction is over, the question on everyone's lips is what will become of the world's most expensive car?