Why Was This Mercedes 300SL Locked In An Aircraft Hanger For 40 Years?


Find out the fascinating history behind this Gullwing coupe.

We’ve seen some astonishing barn finds over the years, but it’s rare that we get to find out the backstory as to why valuable, sought-after cars get stashed away for decades. We’ll probably never find out why a recently-discovered BMW M1 was left collecting dust in a barn for over 30 years, for example. Likewise, this 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing coupe was left in an aircraft hanger for 40 years. In this case, however, Mercedes Benz Club of America has an explanation.

This rare 240 horsepower Mercedes only had one owner in its lifetime. It belonged to an orphan man named Sigurd Nygren, who was a merchant marine sailor and an avid aircraft pilot. According to the club’s article, Nygren was infatuated with the 300SL because it bared a close resemblance to a particular aircraft: "He wanted something as close as possible to the aircraft he enjoyed flying; he wanted to purchase one of the ultralight alloy-bodied versions he had read about in the car magazines." His interest in cars and planes also led to him flying a Taylor Aerocar.

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The 1955 300SL was specially-ordered with radiant red paint and a matching plaid fabric interior, making for a unique color combination. It was also fitted with optional belly pans for aerodynamics, along with some aircraft-inspired instrumentation, including an aftermarket rear view mirror with an altimeter and thermometer on the dashboard, an aircraft chronometer at the top center of the windshield, and even a windscreen defroster fan similar to those found on small planes. In 1976, it was eventually laid to rest in an aircraft hanger after Nygren cited problems with the mechanical fuel injector pump, but it’s been very well-preserved with clear love and care by the owner.

Nygren stored it under waterproof covers and, until around 15 years ago, would drive it for around 20 minutes around the airfield to keep it in working condition, but it’s been off the road for 40 years. Considering its age, the gullwing coupe is in incredibly immaculate condition, which is reflected in the wallet-crunching price it's expected to sell for at an upcoming Gooding & Company's Scottsdale auction later this month – prepare to shell out between $900,000 - £1,000,000 if you want to add it to your collection.

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