This is where Maxi Hoffman plied a highly profitable trade in imported European exotica, riding a near vertical wave of American prosperity. The potential scale of the trade across the Atlantic endowed Mr Hoffman with unlikely influence, so when he pointed out that a mildly toned down version of the W194 (a Le Mans winner in 1952) might be a home run among his affluent clientele, Mercedes took him at his word.
That money bought you innovation across the board, though. Underneath, the streamlined body the 300 SL was based on a welded aluminium space frame (its shape meant that traditional doors were out of the question) that weighed just 82kg. It was fantastically strong, of course, and its pifling mass resulted in a kerb weight of - fuel and all - of just 1,295kg. And while the car got the same 3.0-litre 'big six' as the 300 saloon, Mercedes went to the trouble of fitting Bosch mechanical fuel injection, which helped deliver 215hp - more than the carburetted W194 produced.
This all proved rather too much for well-heeled Americans ("There is only one thing left to say: the sports car of the future has become a reality," said Road & Track at the time) and they accounted for 1,100 or so of all 1,400 examples built. A fact which helps make this week's Showpiece even more special; not only is it a European model, Cheshire Classic Cars also claims it as a "Standwagen", built specifically for the Turin show in 1956.
This is of no surprise - the 300SL has long been among the most expensive automotive purchases, a facet of its rarity, popularity since launch and utterly timeless design. One of the 29 cars optioned with an entirely aluminium alloy body went for $4.6m a few years ago. Our Showpiece, with a likeable life-well-lived 89k mileage, is valued at £1,150,000. For the few then. Exactly as Maxi imagined it.
See the original advert here.