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Think Colour. Think Standox  Mercedes-Benz Classic Center

Few are better at restoring historic vehicles than the specialists at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Fellbach. But when it comes to finishes, they’re quick to draw on the expertise from Standox. This also applies to the restoration of a classic for which an unusual colour had to be recreated.


The Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Fellbach

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing from the 1950s is a classic and is still a real eye-catcher It’s the sort of model that people who otherwise have little interest in cars will take a second look at as it passes by.

In Fellbach, near Stuttgart, the reaction to sights like this is probably somewhat calmer. Because there’s scarcely any other place in the world where a legendary Gullwing is more likely to be seen than here.  

The Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, the first place owners of historic Mercedes-Benz models turn to.

Carl Benz und Gottlieb Daimler

Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler

That’s because this is the home of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, which has been here since 1993. For owners of historic Mercedes models, it's the first place they turn to.  


And it’s not only the historic and newer models from the Mercedes-Benz Museum that the workshops at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center look after. Their unique technical and historical expertise is available to all the brand’s customers around the world who are interested in restoring their classic car to perfect technical condition and appearance.  

And one of the benefits they can take advantage of is direct access to all the company’s resources. Along with the comprehensive databases in the corporate archives, the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center also has access to facilities for research and development, the know-how derived from building prototypes and the latest technical capacities for producing original reproductions.  

Impressive: The four display cases with 160 models of the 190 SL provide an idea of the range of colours used for post-war Mercedes-Benz models (up to about 1975). They were finished using paints from Standox.


Restoring Gullwing coupés at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center

Only around 1,400 Gullwing Coupés were produced between 1954 and 1957. Roughly 80 percent of them were exported to the US where, during the 1950s, there were enough cash-rich buyers willing to pay more than they would have for a full-sized Cadillac Eldorado.


The 1955 model 300 SL, being restored in Fellbach, also has a US history. But its light-blue metallic finish clearly sets it apart from other export models. “According to our archive, only seven 300 SLs were painted with this colour,” says Michael Plag, project manager at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center.  

Now the Gullwing has returned to the place where it was manufactured: Its new owner, a German collector, brought it to Fellbach to be restored by the specialists at Mercedes.

Along with unrestored original vehicles, faithful restorations are also highly valued by classic car collectors. And having the work done by the original manufacturer is a special mark of quality. Plag: “Working in cooperation with the owner, we try to retain as much of the original substance of the vehicle as possible.” Work as extensive as this takes time: “You have to reckon on around a year and a half for a complete restoration.”


In the case of the 1955 Gullwing coupés one thing was immediately clear: “The car had been poorly restored at some point years ago“, Plag explains. “As part of that, it was repainted in metallic silver.” Presumably the owner at the time wanted to participate in the Silver Arrows mythology and intentionally chose the “wrong” colour. But that's not always the case: “Some colours are unintentionally altered, because the finisher doesn’t have access to the original records they need,” Plag points out.

The staff at Fellbach often have to deal with flaws like this, even with models like the rare Gullwing, which now fetch prices of well over a million euros. “Particularly in the 1970s, before the vehicles enjoyed the benefit of classic status, they often underwent a ‘cheap’ overhaul,” says Plag. “Along with corrosion and mechanical wear and tear, it’s this sort of unprofessional work that causes us the most problems.”


In Fellbach they don’t just take care of a classic car’s interior value, they restore its exterior value as well - the finish. “For us the key question is always: What was the colour of the car when it was originally delivered?” says Plag. “We try to convey that to the owner and then transform it during restoration.” Daimler still has the old vehicle data cards and the master colour charts for all the models they produced.

 

The 300 SL from 1955 was due to have its original colour restored. But the personnel at Fellbach didn’t rely solely on their own expertise. Plag: “We called the staff at Standox and asked them to develop a new mixing formula for the car’s original colour.” Research into the colour formula turned out to be somewhat complicated in this case. The light-blue for the Gullwing with the designation DB 353 was used for just a handful of vehicles. Plus, the name given to the hue was used a second time years later for a different blue.


Cooperation between the Classic Center and Standox

Standox Colour

“At the request of the Classic Center, the staff at the Wuppertal Colour Laboratory recreated the original colour based on original archive samples from the Classic Center and created a new mixing formula,” Dennis Martens, Key Account Manager for OEM Refinish Systems, recounts. “The formula is now available via our colour search engine Standowin iQ.”

This type of collaboration between the Classic Center and Standox goes far beyond individual restorations, it’s an established tradition. “Without Standox we wouldn’t have had the means to ascertain the original colour with the correct mix ratio,” says Plag. “We stay in close contact, because we are constantly working on improvements and refinements. That applies not just to new car business but to classics as well.

 



The concrete result of this exchange is a guideline on finishing classic vehicles, which the Classic Center developed together with Standox several years ago. It’s now a sort of bible for repairing the finish on historic Mercedes models. “It’s continuously updated as materials change,” says Plag. “That’s the only way to guarantee outstanding quality. Which is what the customer expects from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center - and we expect the same from our suppliers.”

Michael Plag, Project Manager at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center


The Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing

 

 

 

Technical Data: Mercedes 300 SL „Gullwing"

 

Manufactured between: 1954-1957
Length: 4520 mm
Width: 1790 mm
Height: 1300 mm
Wheelbase: 2400 mm
Weight: 1295 kg
Body: Sheet Steel (1,370 units)
  Aluminium (29 units)
  Synthetic Material (1 Prototype)
Engine: 3 litre six cylinder
Performance: 158 KW / 215 HP
Maximum Speed: 235 km/h up to 247 km/h depending on the
rear axle ratio)