Icons like the Shelby Cobra Daytona and Porsche 550 Spyder can also demand well into seven digits for a chance at ownership, and for most classic car buyers, that’s just a bit too much. But thankfully nowadays you don’t have to pay a million bucks to…well, look like a million bucks.
Meet the “Gullwing Coupe”—a car built in the likeness of the legendary 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL. If you fancy an original 300SL with gullwing doors, you’ll need about $5 million. Fancy this late model replica? You’ll only need about a 25th of that. Talk about pinching a penny.
The shapely Gullwing Coupe was the product of Clearwater, Florida’s Speedster Motorcar Company, which had been building replicas of classic cars like the Auburn Boattail Speedster since the early 1990s. But by 2006, the firm was looking for a new endeavor, and found it in the construction of these realistic gullwing coupe replicas, of which around 20 were built.
On the exterior, the cars stay quite faithful to the original Mercedes-Benz 300SL design, albeit using a fiberglass body instead of Mercedes’ steel or alloy option. Underneath, the coupes’ backbone is comprised of a steel space frame chassis, which comes equipped with a nimble coil-over suspension.
Under the long, sloping bonnet of the original cars you’ll find Mercedes’ heroic 3.0-liter straight-six. Fast forward six decades, the two dozen Gullwing Coupes could be fitted with a variety of GM Vortec V8 engines, spanning 4.8- to 6.0-liters, and either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
This car opts for the mid-range Vortec V8, a 5.3-liter mill, which made around 320 horsepower in the contemporary Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban. It may not be the most exotic of powerplants, but then again it only has 2,700 pounds of fiberglass and steel to haul around.
Inside, things are a bit less convincing than the original cars. The dashboard follows the 300SL mold with the absence of a few knobs, and the red leather seats look fairly spot on.
However, the shift boot and steering wheel will have purists crying foul.
All in all, if you’re looking for a budget Mercedes-Benz 300SL and you aren’t interested in rusted-out barn find SL coupes, then the “Gullwing Coupe” might be your next best option.