1960 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL and 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster. Photos by Mike Maez, courtesy Gooding & Company.
What prompts attraction? This question has puzzled scientists and singles alike since the dawn of time, yet no satisfactory answer has ever been found. In the case of Audrey Musil, the trigger was the gray 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster owned by Richard Thompson. A note left on the car’s windshield ultimately resulted in a long-term relationship for the pair, and later, the acquisition of Audrey’s own 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL roadster. Parked side-by-side in a San Diego garage for decades, both cars will cross the block in Scottsdale on January 29, a sweet but sad reminder that nothing material is forever.
Richard Thompson’s 300 SL Roadster.
Richard’s 300 SL Roadster dates to the factory’s first year of production, and is finished in Graphite Grey with a medium gray leather interior and a gray cloth top. Beneath the hood, the fuel-injected 3.0-liter inline-six is rated at 215 horsepower (DIN) and mated to a four-speed manual transmission. The car’s curb weight of 3,440 pounds helps to deliver relatively spirited performance, with the 300 SL Roadster capable of dashing from 0-60 MPH in under nine seconds, on the way to a top speed approaching 150 MPH (dependent upon axle ratio).
The early history of Richard’s 300 SL isn’t clear, but by 1972 the Mercedes-Benz was titled in his name. From 1972 into 1973, the car was undergoing an engine rebuild by Marina Mercedes Service in Venice, California, and upon completion the Mercedes was enjoyed on weekend trips throughout Southern California. About this time, the car, and Richard Thompson himself, came to the attention of Audrey Musil.
Though there’s no way of confirming the note-on-the windshield tale, it’s well within the realm of plausible. What is known is that the couple began dating around this time, moving in together several years later. In 1982, wanting a Mercedes roadster of her own, Audrey purchased a 1960 190 SL from Rob Petruzzo, Jr., who’d only owned the car for two years. Its previous owner, Bruce Hake, had acquired the car in 1969, and while the Mercedes had been delivered new through a New York dealer, it had spent the bulk of its life in the forgiving climate of Southern California.
Audrey Musil’s 1960 190 SL roadster.
The 190 SL was more of a grand tourer than a sports car, and its 1.9-liter inline four-cylinder engine, which featured twin Solex carburetors, was rated at 105 horsepower (DIN). With a four-speed manual gearbox, the 3,100 pound car would have proved entertaining enough for most drivers, and like its more powerful garage mate, the 190 SL was blessed with timeless styling.
The 300 SL owned by Richard was last registered in 1986, and it’s believed that he passed away later this same year. Unwilling to part with the car that had prompted their relationship, Audrey kept the gray roadster in the garage alongside her black 190 SL, which was registered and regularly exercised up until the mid-1990s. Since then, both cars have sat unused, awaiting the care of their next owners.
Today, Audrey’s declining health is forcing the sale of both cars, giving Scottsdale bidders a unique opportunity to purchase “his and hers” Mercedes roadsters. Though unrestored, both cars appear to be in a remarkable state of preservation, thanks to indoor storage in the dry Southern California climate. Each will be offered as an individual lot, with the 300 SL Roadster expected to sell between $900,000 and $1.1 million, and the 190 SL expected to achieve between $50,000 and $70,000.
The Gooding & Company Scottsdale auction will take place on January 29 and 30 in Old Town Scottsdale, adjacent to the Fashion Square Mall. For additional information, visit GoodingCo.com.