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March 30, 2010

Object Lesson

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé

Object 1956 white Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé with black leather interior, to be auctioned by Christie's London on September 10.

Distinguishing Characteristics Mercedes built about 1,000 between 1954 and 1957. Their signature feature is the gullwing doors. This model "is probably one of the most sought-after postwar sports cars," says Richard Lentinello, executive editor of Hemmings Motor News. Michael Long, a dealer in vintage European sports cars, says that unlike some Ferrari and Jaguar models from the same period, the coupe "never really went out of style." Since the trunk holds the gas tank and the spare tire, Mercedes also designed matching luggage to be stowed behind the seats.

Provenance Sold in the United States in 1956, it was bought 12 years ago by a Japanese private collector. It comes with the original Becker stereo and black leather suitcases. The color, says Christie's specialist Rupert Banner, is uncommon as most models were painted in silver, red, or gray, "the standard German palette."

Estimate $126,000-$188,900. Christie's, 8 King St., London; 44-20-7839-9060; www.christies.com.