Here's why Mercedes-Benz sold a car for a record $143 million

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Sometimes wild rumors turn out to be true.

One of the world’s most famous cars has been sold at a private auction at a closed museum for an astonishing price, as was first reported through whispers and hearsay last week.

Not to a James Bond-style villain with their eyes set on taking over the world, however, but someone looking to help save it.

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Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that a private collector has purchased one of the two 300SLR “Uhlenhaut” Coupe racing cars in its collection for 135 million euros, which is $143 million today.

Rudolf Uhlenhaut was the chief engineer for the 300SLR.

Rudolf Uhlenhaut was the chief engineer for the 300SLR.
(Mercedes-Benz)

The proceeds from the sale will go toward the establishment of the Mercedes-Benz Fund, which will support research and scholarship in the fields of environmental sciences and decarbonization.

The price is more than double the previous record of $70 million reportedly paid for a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO in a private sale in 2018 and triple the $48.4 million that a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO went for at a public RM Sotheby’s auction the same year.

The 300SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was developed for racing.

The 300SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was developed for racing.
(Mercedes-Benz)

The car’s name comes from its chief engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, who was developing it for the 1956 racing season, before a disastrous crash that claimed 84 lives at the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans led Mercedes-Benz to drop out of competition for three decades.

Two 300SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes were built.

Two 300SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes were built.
(Mercedes-Benz)

“With the ‘Mercedes-Benz Fund’ we would like to encourage a new generation to follow in Rudolf Uhlenhaut’s innovative footsteps and develop amazing new technologies, particularly those that support the critical goal of decarbonization and resource preservation,” Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius said.

The buyer’s name has not yet been made public, but Hagerty, with inside knowledge of the transaction, reports that it is “a well-known figure from Britain’s automotive industry and a long-standing collector of specialist cars.”

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It’s not known if they will ever come forward, but Mercedes-Benz said that they have agreed to make the car “accessible for public display on special occasions,” so it won’t be disappearing into a secret lair forever.

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