Has the world gone mad? That was the question many asked themselves back in 2018, when a Ferrari 250 GTO went for $70 million USD at an RM Sotheby's Group auction.
The assumption then was that that record would hold for at least 10 years, if not 20. Not even close, because less than five years later, a new sale pulverized that mark, with a buyer bidding the equivalent of $143 million USD, just over twice the 250 GTO’s price.
Madness? Yes and no, because with only two units ever produced, the 300 SLR Uhelenhaut concept is definitely one of the rarest and most coveted models on the planet.
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One of two prototypes created in 1955, the SLR Uhlenhaut coupe was originally a street-legal race car that survived Mercedes' withdrawal from the racing world after the 1955 Le Mans tragedy. Its name honours Rudolf Uhlenhaut, designer and chief engineer of the SLR, which he used as his personal car. This SLR Uhlenhaut was part of the private collection of cars kept by Mercedes-Benz. The second prototype is still in the hands of the firm and remains on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
On May 5th, a private auction was held by invitation only by the German automaker. It brought together customers and collectors who share Mercedes-Benz' corporate values, and the model was offered up for bidding that event. Rumours began to circulate soon after the sale about the astronomical sale price, and last week Mercedes finally confirmed the reports.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut coupe thus officially becomes most expensive car in the world.
Hearteningly, the automaker plans to put the proceeds of the sale to good use. The pan is to launch the Mercedes-Benz Fund, a global scholarship program that will support school and university students committed to the environmental cause.
“With the Mercedes-Benz Fund we would like to encourage a new generation to follow in Rudolf Uhlenhaut's innovative footsteps and develop amazing new technologies, particularly those that support the critical goal of decarbonization and resource preservation. At the same time, achieving the highest price ever paid for a vehicle is extraordinary and humbling: A Mercedes-Benz is by far the most valuable car in the world.”
- Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius