Let’s get straight to it: A Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe just sold for $142 million. It’s now the most valuable car of all time, according to Mercedes-Benz. That’s the number 142 followed by six zeros—a sum pretty much unfathomable for us common folk. Consider this: The original Shelby Cobra, considered to be one of the most important American sports cars, sold for $13 million in 2016. Add a zero to the end, and you’re still not there.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe from 1955—one of two road-going versions of the epic 300 SLR race car—bears the name of its creator and chief engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut. It’s considered one of the world’s most significant automotive icons because of its design and innovative technology, helping shape the Mercedes-Benz brand and inspire the production 300 SL Gullwing (itself a monumental icon). It blew our minds when we drove it way back in 1957.
The rare coupe was part of a non-public vehicle collection belonging to Mercedes-Benz Classic. It sold in early May during an auction held at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart in conjunction with high-end auctioneer RM Sotherby’s. The buyer, evidently passionate about iconic autos, is a private collector, part of the select group of Mercedes-Benz customers and international collectors who was invited to participate in the auction. They have agreed to keep the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe accessible to the public on special occasions.
As for the second original 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe? Called “The Blue”—whereas the one that sold was “The Red,” both named for their interior colors—it’s still under Mercedes-Benz ownership and is on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Is this Mercedes-Benz truly worth $142 million? Was there a catch? Value is determined by what someone is willing to pay, but there was a little more to the sale. The auction proceeds went to create something uncreatively called the Mercedes-Benz Fund. This fund—divided into the sub-categories of University Scholarships and School Scholarships—connects, educates, and encourages students as they pursue environmental science projects and technologies that support decarbonization and resource preservation. Think of it this way: The fund supports the future Rudolf Uhlenhauts of Mercedes-Benz.