How would you fancy having an £550,485 repair bill next time you prang your car? No, thought not, but that is what happened recently as possibly the most unfortunate mechanic currently practicing his trade in Germany took a priceless car for a ride.

The car was a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing that was rather ironically, being restored – what you might describe as a bit of a set back then. So is there actually any good news to be had out of this? Well, neither driver or passenger were hurt in the accident, although rumours abound of a thoroughly dented ego and possible lack of a pay rise for quite some time for the unfortunate mechanic.

mercedes 300-sl gullwing accident

The Gullwing is one of the most deserving cars of the word “classic” that you might find, it oozes class. The 300SL is unsurprisingly often cited as being one of the most collectible Mercedes-Benz vehicles in existence, while Sports Car International magazine voted the 300SL Gullwing as number 5 in its list of the finest sports cars of all time – hard to argue with that accolade really.

Perhaps our unfortunate young mechanic had been reading of the Gullwing’s racing pedigree before the 26 year old grabbed the keys to go for a spin. In 1952 the Gullwing had caused a bit of a stir in beating both Jaguar and Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race with old-style carburettors powering the engine and producing a mere 175hp. The secret it turns out, was the Gullwing’s supreme aerodynamics. Ahead of it’s time indeed.

Reports say that the mechanic was going somewhat faster than he should have been and was breaking the speed limit of 80km/h when the accident happened and the Merc slid off the side of the road. We can only begin to imagine what he said to his passenger after they realised that they were ok and the realisation of what they had done had begun to sink in.

mercedes 300sl coupe

The moral of this story is simple really – always make sure that you have your car correctly insured as things can go wrong! In the UK, assuming the mechanic was reputable, his motor trade policy would have picked up the bill for this type of accident. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of mechanics taking a rather nice car for a “bit of a cheeky spin”, perks of the trade maybe. In this case, the owner was reported to be fairly calm about the accident.

Crash image from zero2turbo.com

10 Responses

  1. Guy Kendal

    Mercedes 300slr has swing axles, just like a lot of other 1950’s/1960’s car’s. Perhaps that what caught out a younger driver who’s unaware of the consequences of lifting off the throttle at speed on a corner?

    Reply
  2. Adam

    ‘Put it on a pedestal’
    Way off the mark there. You were obviously WAY out your depth!! These cars were made to drive and be driven hard, they are still raced today and still take a hammering, all in their stride.
    There is no other classic of its age that can take the abuse a 300SL takes, phenominal cars and probably the best of all time.
    Jaguar and Ferrari were using race bred technology in their cars, Mercedes took the engine/gearbox and driveline from their saloon car, took on the world and trounced them all!!
    Only Mercedes could do that!!

    Reply
  3. Russell

    Reference rolling a Gullwing.

    It didn’t happen to me but I tried driving one over 30 years ago and found it a terrifying experience. The steering, brakes and tyres of the mid-50s could not cope and being cooped up in the cabin with pedals so close together and heaving the massive steering wheel about inches from your face with all the noise and rattles did not thrill me at all.

    Still a great looking car; polish it up and put it on a pedestal. Maybe glide it around a smooth track, but stay off public roads.

    Reply
  4. richard wosiek

    My Mercedes official dealer uses mature drivers and I am happy to let them collect my CLK from my house for its yearly services.

    Reply
  5. Bob Davies

    No doubt this will be another one of your “It happened to me ” stories .

    I took my bright yellow Triumph GT6 to a Lucas agent to sort out a problem with the Overdrive switch ( a common problem ). As their name was on the electrics it seemed a good place to go.
    When I went to collect it the car was up on a ramp with the bonnet open and I was told there would a slight delay .
    Two mechanics had taken it for a spin and had hit the local dustbin lorry . As you know the bonnet is the entire front of the car on a GT6 or Spitfire and it was distorted after the impact and wouldn,t shut properly . I was told to contact my own insurer to sort it out . My insurer made it quite clear that it was their fault ,of course , and it was booked in to be repaired . In the meantime a drunk driver reversed in to the driver,s door .
    After about three or four weeks of driving around with a very battered ego/GT6 the love of my life was eventually repaired from two seperate claims ..but.. the car was now three different shades of yellow .. The overdrive however never let me down again .

    Happy days .

    Reply
    • richard wosiek

      If the paint shop knew their stuff then the shade would be blended in to match the shade of the rest of the car.

      Reply
  6. Steve Farmer

    Same thing happened to me. Took my M5 in for a service at BMW and the young technician decided that it needed a road test. Too much power for a youngster, it was a bit wet and 500bhp was just too much. Needless to say they fixed it but it never seem to handle the same afterwards. I got the very expensive service (including brakes) done for free though.

    Reply

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