Back in 1986, Daimler-Benz commissioned pop-art icon Andy Warhol to produce a series of original artworks that celebrated the designs of its cars. This ultimately resulted in what was known as the “Cars Series” — a triptych of the Mercedes-Benz’s 300 SL Gullwing. The exact example that Warhol used to create this series was an early Gullwing with the chassis number 198.040-5500629 — as well as the license plate “EI – DR 1.” Despite more than 35 years having passed since the unveiling of Warhol’s Cars Series, German firm BRABUS has managed to track down this very 300 SL, treat it to a nut and bolt restoration, and for the first time since the series’ debut, display Warhol’s pop-art take on the Benz alongside the actual car itself.
After an extensive investigation, the famed tuning company located the automotive muse for Warhol’s Cars Series. After verifying that this was indeed chassis number 198.040-5500629, the Gullwing was turned over to the tuner’s 6-Star Restoration program, which proceeded to meticulously restore the Benz from the ground up, poring over every inch of the vehicle, inside and out. This included completely refreshing the car’s lightweight tube-frame chassis and the vehicle’s full suite of alloy bodywork. The donor’s chrome details and paintwork have also been completely restored.
Another major focus of this 6-Star restored automobile was bringing its powertrain back to life. This resulted in every single bolt and each individual component of the 300 SL’s 215-hp 3.0-liter straight-six engine being replaced with either NOS, OEM, or custom one-off replica parts. Today, the 300 SL stands exactly as it did when it left the factory in 1954, looking identical to the original unrestored car. In total, BRABUS’ 6-Star Restoration program spent more than 4,500 man-hours bringing this ambitious restoration to fruition.
The BRABUS-restored Andy Warhol Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing is currently on display alongside the Car Series in the atrium of the Mercedes-Benz Museum from today through June 26.