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Mercedes-Benz Classic to reproduce body panels for the 300 SL “Gullwing”

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Photos courtesy of Daimler Benz.

Though produced for just four years, the W198 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” coupe had a tremendous and lasting impact on the automotive world. Voted “Sports Car of the Century” by a panel of automotive journalists in December 1999, 300 SL coupes routinely sell at auction for more than $1 million, meaning that the need for accurately produced body panels has not lessened with time.

Enter Mercedes-Benz Classic, which, in conjunction with a key-but-unnamed supplier, has created a range of replacement body panels, developed using a blend of modern technology and old-world craftsmanship. Beginning with three-dimensional scans pulled from original body panels, a metal tool is created to stamp a part as close to the original in shape as possible. Next, these panels are formed into the final shape by hand, using wooden mallets, the same way panel beating has been carried out for generations.

A fender in the stamping tool, awaiting final shaping and painting.

Once shaped, the panels are electrophoretically painted, a process that that involves a cleaning stage, followed by a coating to enhance corrosion resistance and provide a suitable base for the primer, which is applied next. Throughout the process, an electric charge is used to ensure even application of pigment and maximum adhesion.

Creating the panels is still a labor-intensive, low-volume process, and prices are commensurate with the value of the 300 SL coupes. Front fenders are priced at €11,900 (roughly $14,255) for either side, while rear panels are priced at €14,875 (roughly $17,820), again for either left or right sides. The rear end center panel is priced at €2,975 (about $3,565), while the rear end floor panel is priced at €8,925 (about $10,690). All panels carry conventional part numbers, and are available through any Mercedes-Benz dealership worldwide.

Attention to detail is key; here, a front fender is checked for dimensional accuracy.

The components are designed to fit as closely to the originals as possible, but the hand-built nature of the 300 SL coupes means that some post-assembly adjustment may be necessary. Compared to crafting patch panels (or entire fenders) by hand, these paint-ready components will certainly expedite restorations, potentially saving owners money – and creating a better end product – in the long run.

Mercedes-Benz Classic has other replacement parts under development as well. Given the ongoing lifespan and timeless appeal of the W198s, the automaker’s efforts to expand its catalog make sound financial sense.