Barn Finds – ‘Inheritance battle’ Mercedes-Benz 300SLs W198 freed month in cars

‘Inheritance battle’ 300SLs freed month in cars… Barn Finds Matching-set pairs of 300SLs have been seen in auction catalogues before, but never in such a remarkably preserved, little-used condition. The roadster’s soft-top remains unused and still in its protective packaging.

Two astonishingly preserved Mercedes; several claimants; one fascinating story…

Drive-My EN/UK was contacted back in early 2017 by Pär Ivarsson, a Swedish journalist working for Sveriges Radio. He’d heard of an extraordinary discovery at a property outside Stockholm – a Mercedes 300SL roadster and a 300SL Gullwing, the former unused since 1966 and the latter since perhaps 1969. ‘They were discovered when the owner died in 2011, in a garage at his summerhouse,’ says Ivarsson. ‘But it was only in 2017 that the story became public, because of legal battles over them.’

Barn Finds - ‘Inheritance battle’ Mercedes-Benz 300SLs W198 freed month in cars

Barn Finds – ‘Inheritance battle’ Mercedes-Benz 300SLs W198 freed month in cars

Perhaps unsurprisingly, various claimants stated that the cars should belong to them. ‘There has been a very complicated battle in the Swedish courts for them,’ continues Ivarsson.

‘The man died without heirs and one person claimed he got both of them when he traded a boat for them in 2005. But an organisation that runs a museum claimed the man donated the roadster in 2007.’

At the time, access to the cars was strictly forbidden and no photos emerged. The story later received some coverage in Sweden, with Swedish TV eventually making a documentary on the subject. Despite all the wrangling, both cars were still registered to the late owner, a dental surgeon called Gunnar Giermark. He seems to have been something of a hoarder, keeping not just valuable items but old newspapers and bottles too.

Yet he clearly knew how to look after old cars – both of them were kept in dry, heated garages at his property. As such, the state of preservation of these Mercedes is remarkable – they hardly resemble normal barn finds and the 1963 roadster, which Giermark bought new, has a mere 1380km on the clock.

In late 2017, after much dispute, the courts finally ruled that a government-regulated fund for unclaimed inheritance that supports young and disabled people should take ownership of both cars. Since, French auction house Artcurial has been appointed to sell them – news that broke just a few weeks before the auction is set to taken place on July 7 at the Le Mans Classic meeting, just as we go to press.

The Roadster sold for a record €3.14m (£2.78m) while the Gullwing made a more modest €1.01m (£893,805).

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