There's a natural inclination among enthusiasts when we see a beat-up old version of an iconic car. Most of the time, we want to save them; restore them to their former glory. But when I saw this decrepit, scarred 300SL for sale from Gullwing Motor Cars, I had a better idea. I want to make it even worse.
Perhaps the most limiting factor with cars is how much ego and money is tied up in how they look. You have to worry about scratching your car, not because it matters to you, but because it supposedly matters to the next owner. And they'll only really care because it'll be a headache went it comes time to sell it then. Scratches and blemishes to metal make no difference, but they limit what you can do with a car. And anyone who has owned a torn-up, poorly maintained old car—a shitbox, if you will—will tell you it's more fun not to care.
The ultimate form of this would be not caring about a 300SL, which I consider to be the greatest car of all time. Of course that's impossible—even a scarred one like this is listed for about $1.5 million—but any scratch or dent you add isn't going to change the value. Because this is a car that has a history, and that's the fun part. It's been on this planet for 66 years and by God it can prove it. The paint is faded, chipping, and bleeding, the pristine image of its heyday gone. It is an object that was used as it was designed for decades, in all of that glory.
By 2006, though, it came off the road, according to the ad. This 300SL sat for a decade decaying further, until 2018, when a factory Mercedes specialist restored all of the mechanical components. It's a lifetime California car, so no rust, and the primary components are all numbers matching. In most regards, it's a perfect Gullwing.
But because it's already beaten up, that means you can use it like a car. Park it in a lot, leave it in the sun, drive it down a gravel road, or slide around in the desert. No scratch or ding is going to change the value, because the important bits are all protected by that war-torn body. So I want it. Perhaps even more than I want a clean 300SL. Because I'd never take an immaculate one down a slidey dirt road or press on through inclement weather in one. And that'd be a shame, because that's what the 300SL was for. From the rally stages of Scotland to the lights at Le Mans, this is a car that was meant to be used. Nothing would be more fun than owning one and getting to drive it like I mean it.