Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing (JM)
Total Restoration


Mechanical and cosmetic restoration of a running and driving car, including preparation for various international rallying events (enhanced cooling, suspension, etc).


Last week was spent tying up a few mechanical loose ends, including installing the new exhaust system and tracking down a few fluid leaks. Sam identified a fairly major transmission seal leak which we will be dealing with early this week, as well as a nasty differential output seal leak. While under the car dealing with these issues, we have been detailing the under carriage and wheel arches, etc, prior to going back with the Rudge belly pans.

On the subject of the Rudge belly pans, and further to our telephone conversation last week:

Cosme has now cleaned the pans up and I have decided to leave them in their original paint, complete with 46 year old patina, rather than strip them down and paint them. They really are in fantastic, original shape.

That's about it for now - difficult to photograph mechanical progress! The pictures below show the front arches and wheel drums after they had been detailed.

David has now pretty much finished his work with the car and it has moved out into the CJ workshop for its final mechanical shakedown. The following photographs show the side windows going into place, as well as Cosme refitting the bonnet. Cosme particularly asked to have a photograph taken of him standing next to the car as he is very proud of his paintwork - and rightly so.


Two high profile items were restored and installed during the past week - the famous grill and the steering wheel. We also finally got around to putting the retrimmed seats back in the cabin where they belong! I hope you are pleased with our progress.
Assembling the grill - Harry Martin did
an astounding job repairing and replating it
Masking off Cosme's paintwork..
Installing the grill....

Installing the complex 
upper steering column
Installing the seats

The seats really are rather comfortable

Wheel was in good shape, just needed
a turn on the buffing wheel

Back where it belongs
Almost there!

The following pictures speak for themselves. Automotive art.


Some serious progress for you this week. The car is looking absolutely fantastic.
David has done a beautiful job
restoring the dash grills
Close up of the repainted heater grills

Sun visors now installed

About to install the new outer sills
Sill in place

New alloy finisher installed
The other side gets the same treatment

The luggage rails installed

Shifter knob and finisher installed
Trial fitting the luggage

Fitted luggage installed temporarily
Installing wiper and washer

Rebuilding the quarterlights
Correct windshield arrived and is now installed
(boy was that a challenge!)

About to install the restored dash
Dash loosely in place


Four steps forward and one step back.....

Just as we were feeling rather pleased with ourselves, we found out that Mercedes Benz had mistakenly shipped us a 300SL roadster screen instead of the Gullwing screen that we obviously needed. This knocked David out of his stride somewhat, as he was about to install the windscreen, followed by the dashboard.

In any event, as you can see from the following photographs, he is still managing to make great progress.

Quarter lights back in place
Restored handbrake installed

I am pleased to report that the doors are now installed and the glass is starting to go back into place. Lawrence has fitted and reworked the new aluminium rocker panels which are now in Cosme's hands and well into the painting process.

Per your discussion with Justine, we have now ordered a period Becker radio for the car.

Doors back in place

Rechromed/rebuilt door supports
X marks the spot of an invisible
join - very clever stuff!

Interior all but finished
Car ready for its new glass

David preparing to install the rear
screen using a new rubber seal
One of the new rockers, trialfitted,
modified and now in the paint booth

Zinc primer will be followed by
high build (sandable) primer

Andy and Dave installing the rear glass
(sorry, couldn't find any McLaren 
Formula 1 pit crew shirts)
Looking like a gullwing once more....

David continues to make excellent progress with the Gullwing project. The following photographs show him trimming out the doors.

The speakers installed in your car were damaged and mis-matched. David managed to source a new pair that could be made to work given the limitations of the circular holes already cut into each of the B pillars. We also had to find something that would work with the original chrome trim rings. I think the following photographs show that David has done a splendid job providing you with mdern performance speakers with an entirely original look.
The speakers we removed
from the car, way back when
New replacements

Installing the cowl panel
map pockets
Interior brightwork back
from the chrome platers

Re-plated window frames
One of the most imposing dashboards in
the entire automotive world

Left hand speaker is installed
Looking every bit like original equipment

RH speaker goes into place - note the 
beautiful trimwork where the two hide panels meet

The following photographs show how David fabricated and installed the hides which trim out the side panels and the door openings, including the rather complex A and B posts.
Closed cell foam on the side panel
Notice how seat runners have been
scrupulously cleaned

Side panels trimmed in hide (RH)
LH side panel taking shape

Hides being cut and stitched for the
door openings and the A & B pillars
This is a complex curve and difficult to
get exactly right

Starting to install the door aperture trim

This is the complex curve David was
stitching in the earlier photograph
Really starting to come together now...

Th photos do not do justice to
David's craftsmanship

Almost ready for the seats
Door latch installed

The removable hide panel on the rear deck now complete, David has turned his attention to the transmission tunnel. This area is trimmed with a combination of hide and square weave/leather bound carpet.
Notice battery maintenance access 
hole in rear deck
This area will eventually be covered
with a tailored carpet
Covering the trans tunnel, first
with open cell foam
Trimmed out
Leather installed over the foam
The shifter plate will eventually be
Leather bound carpets are installed
forward of the trans shifter

This is a transmission maintenance access
panel sewn into the carpet
The same flap opened to show
the access to the transmission

 And neatly secured......

More fabulous workmanship from Dave Doonan. I truly believe that this is 'as good as it gets'.
 The centre hinge beam trimmed out
Alloy doors have a fibreglass inlay
on the interior section - this can be
very difficult to trim satisfactorily
 A close up of the rough fibreglass texture
Beginning to lay the wool in place 
 Stunning result
 David roles the edges of the wool 
Rough texture on the B pillars simply
will not do
 Rough texture on the A pillars too, 
come to that
 Scraping away 46 years of glue and grime
 The floor pan of a Gullwing is basically an
aluminium tub that is literally screwed to
the steel side panels and the rear bulkhead
 Scraping away all the glue from the side
of the aluminium tub
Likewise the A posts.....
 ...and the B pillars
Another view of how the one piece
aluminium floor pan sits in the
well of the car - fascinating design
 The sides of the pan unscrewed from 
the steel sheel
Handbrake assembly needed
Ready for reinstallation 
 With the handbrake removed, look at
all the glue we were able to scrape
from the side panel
Fresh glue sprayed around the
rear screen bulkhead where new
hides are about to be installed
As the metalwork is really uneven at this point, Dave used
(very forgiving) open cell foam to smooth things out
Before installing the new hides - notice how
he has managed to get the hide to follow
the contour of the rear arch intrusions
 The first hides in place 
Closed cell foam on the rear deck 
David prepares to roll the edges of the hide
mat he is making for the rear deck
Offering the hide mat into position

The following photographs show the installation of the new headliner. The area around the vents at the rear edge of the roof panel is particularly tricky.
Cowl chrome now fully assembled
and installed
Front wing trim (RH)

LH front wing
This area at the rear of the roof
panel is extremely tricky to trim out

This removable panel must be trimmed
Likewise the air box screwed to the roof panel

Trimming out the removable roof duct
prior to installation
A much more complex headliner than
an E Type Jaguar!
But as usual, David is doing
a superb job
The doors will be trimmed separately
before being reinstalled


With the chrome starting to go into place, the car really is beginning to look awesome.
Front bumper starting to take shape
All three blades installed
Overriders and 300SL plate finish
the job off
Rear bumper irons restored/installed
Two piece rear bumper in place
It was marginal whether the rear bumpers
could be saved - there was extensive
damage at the joint (marked X above)
But in the end it looks perfect!
Ready for the new headliner.....
Rear reflectors BEFORE....

Rear reflectors AFTER.....
Automotive art, courtesy of Mercedes Benz....
Coming together beautifully
Yet more chrome - these pieces all go together
to form the grill immediately infront of the screen
The chrome in the previous picture
is installed at the point marked X
These are the replated shocks for the
gullwing doors
Rear lights set the chrome off nicely

And at the front.....
Assembling the chrome pieces for 
the cowl grill

The following photographs show David cleaning up the boot compartment, making and installing the new boot carpets, installing the new lights and badges, etc. He is making excellent progress.
 Front badge goes into place
Visors finished 

 Boot was really pretty untidy
 Now looking much better

 Seriously expensive replacement
back lights
 Lights being installed

 And finally in place
Making new boot carpet using 
old mat as a template 

Boot compartment finished 
I thought you might enjoy seeing a few more examples of David's excellent trim work.
The visors have to be constructed from
scratch exactly as per the originals
A number of carboard inserts form the shape
Cutting new cardboard templates
Cutting out the new wool cloth
New visor compared to old - identical
except the original (top) is faded and dirty
Close up of David's superb detail work

Right on schedule the Gullwing is now with David in the trim room. The following photographs show that he is already making some great progress. The dash was particularly tricky, given all the curves and contours, but hopefully you will be able to see from the photographs that David has done a truly superb job.
David fabricates new scuttle trim complete
with map pockets using the original as
a template

Gullwing safely in trim room
Old interior laid out (to be used 
as templates)
Dash about to be trimmed out in hide
Special tools are used to literally scrape
the outer edges of the hides thinner so they can be
wrapped around panels without wrinkling - this
is an extremely skilled (and risky) operation!
The remains of a couple of red
cows can be seen in the background
Laying out the old trim on the new hides
The area around the instrument fascia
is very difficult to trim out - the leather
has to be heated and stretched in
order to follow the contours properly
A rear view of the instrument cluster
A stunning job
The ash tray goes into place - did I tell you
I am 18 days without a Marlboro, Juan?
Ash tray closed (as it should be)
Rear view mirror goes into place
The chromed aluminium strip shown resting
against the dash will be replaced - it is pretty
beaten-up and is relatively cheap

We are going to try to repair the anodized strip 
shown at the bottom of the picture - believe it or 
not a new replacement is literally thousands of dollars

As you can see, the car has now been painted and I am pleased to report that the finish (and colour) are both absolutely perfect.
Applying the base coat
Applying the clear coat
The finished article

John having gone as far as he can on the mechanicals (without being able to drive the car), we now have the bodywork and paint well underway. Cosme has finished the painstaking process of sanding down the entire car and has already repaired the front valance, rear boot lid, the dent in the passenger door and the rough areas around the front wing vents.

We have the correct Mercedes Silver (DB 180) in hand and we are scheduled to repaint the car later this week.

At this time we are still waiting for the new exhaust, new outer sill cover panels and a few other sundry items - although nothing which need delay Cosme's schedule.


As you can see, we have now received all the Gullwing instruments back. If they work as well as they look, we will be in excellent shape.

As the dash is such an intrinsic part of the interior, we have decided to temporarily install the minor gauges we need in order to complete and test run all the mechanical components of the car. Once I am satisfied that the car is completely finished mechanically, it will be time for David to trim out the interior and reinstall all the glass and chrome.

John will begin the mechanical work this week and we hope to hand the car over to David towards the end of next week.

Incidentally, we managed to obtain all the rubber seals for the car through the Mercedes Benz factory in Germany. They have been a pleasure to work with and provided us with a number of parts which we did not think would still be available.

The grill during disassembly. It has now been submitted for replating.

We now have the majority of the replated chrome back, excepting some of the window brightwork and the main front grill. I deliberately did not submit the grill with everything else as it has to be carefully disassembled first and I was concerned about getting all the various pieces back! I have included a photograph of the grill before disassembly as it is a good indication of what all the chromework was like before replating.

I had been worried that we might not be able to save the main two piece bumper assembly but I am very pleased with the repair that was done. Needless to say, we went for the highest quality plating available.


I am delighted to report that as of yesterday evening, we finally have the Gullwing back home.

I will update this page regularly for you as the car goes back together and I can confirm that the next stage of the restoration is already underway.

I hope David can remember how
the dash goes back together (just kidding)
Completely stripped out interior

In the following photographs you can see the seats freshly trimmed in the new hides.

The following photographs show the complete removal of all the glass, chrome, interior trim and electrical components.

Look closely at the photographs of the dash and you will see how the harness has been attached and secured using a series of leather belts and buckles - just too cool for words!

We hope you are enjoying watching the restoration unfold.

Click on thumbnails to view larger images


I am pleased to report that the mechanical rebuild is now 99% complete. I was able to take your car for a drive and test out the new steering, suspension, cooling and braking systems - and I am delighted to report that everything seems to be working extremely well. We still have to time the fuel injection pump and have various minor mechanical tasks to perform, but basically all the major mechanical work is now behind us.

The next stage will be to disassemble the dash, interior, glass and chrome trim. We considered trying to save the original hides, but unfortunately the texture is so dry (almost powder) around the various tears that it would not be possible to make a worthwhile repair.

In the photographs below you will notice the custom built radiator that we had Ron Davis Racing make for your car. They did a beautiful job and it seems to work as well as it looks!

Click on thumbnails below to view larger images



The following photographs show the work beginning in earnest. It was rather difficult to take clear pictures underneath the car, but the images are none the less fascinating in that they show this wonderful automobile with and without its Rudge bellypans. An incredible piece of engineering, given the vintage of the car.

Once we had removed the bellypans, an inspection of the upper surface of same gave us a very clear picture of the areas and components that have been leaking fluids. Actually, just about everything that contains fluids is leaking to some degree!

The other thing I have tried to show in these photographs is the extent to which the rubber suspension bushings and mountings are perished. All will need replacing, and in fact the rear axle stops are missing altogether.

As the work progresses, we will continue to update you through these pages.

Click on thumbnail pictures to view larger images

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