New Evidence in the Case of Two Mercedes 300 SLs With the Same Chassis Number

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A few months ago, we wrote that two Mercedes 300 SL Roadsters with the same chassis number were discovered in Germany, and restorer Klaus Kienle suspected that the example he sold in 2019 was fake. The owner of the other example, classic car dealer Ralph Grieser, claims to have found the fake example in Malaysia. Investigations are continuing.

In June 2023, German “auto motor und sport magazine” wrote that when classic car dealer Ralph Grieser from Mulheim Karlich wanted to register a Mercedes 300 SL Roadster bought in Switzerland, he discovered that there was another 300 SL Roadster with the same chassis number. A second Mercedes 300 SL Roadster with the same chassis number, 198042-10-002786, in yellow, was sold in 2019 by renowned classic car restorer Klaus Kienle.

From the beginning, Ralph Grieser was convinced that his example was original and that the one sold by Klaus Kienle was a fake. That’s why he started to investigate thoroughly. He found the suspected fake car in Malaysia. To solve the mystery, Grieser traveled to Malaysia in mid-August 2023 with an expert from Koblenz.

Expert confirm that the car sold in Malaezia is a fake
The expert was asked to investigate whether the yellow Mercedes 300 SL with body number 198042-10-002786 is original or fake. Mercedes has stamped the body series in several places. The chassis number can be found on the frame, but Mercedes has also stamped a corresponding number on the engine, transmission, and rear axle as well as on the right and left front axle. The steering, doors, tank nozzle, as well glove box have a number printed on them. All numbers are noted on the data card.

The engine series was visible, but “other clues to prove the identity of the car such as the numbers on the dashboard, steering column, frame and on the right and left front axle have been removed, which are clear signs that this is not an original car.”

The expert concluded that the yellow Mercedes 300 SL Roadster has, actually, a different chassis number and that it is 198042-10-002765. The original car had a white color and red interior, was delivered in 1961, and was stolen in Frankfurt in 1983. The conclusion of the expert quoted by the German “auto motor und sport” magazine is clear: “It’s not just for an automotive expert that the evidence available is so clear that manipulation would have to be concluded”.

The yellow Mercedes 300 SL Roadster sold by Klaus Kienle appeared in the 2020 of Kienle Automobiltechnik calendar.

Klaus Kienle Mercedes 300 SL

Mercedes 300 SL Roadster sold by Kalus Kienle as a broker in 2019

How does Kienle defend himself?
Kienle says he has researched the car’s history and the car in question, a yellow Mercedes 300 SL Roadster, has had the same body series since the early 1990s. He says he only acted as a broker in a commercial transaction and that he did not restore this car as a duplicate and did not manipulate the chassis number. He says there is clear evidence that the car has the same chassis number from the 1990s, and that’s how it arrived in mid-2019 at Kienle’s restoration shop.

Two experts confirm that the car bought by Ralph Grieser is original
On the other hand, Grieser says the car he bought has a clear history: it was produced in January 1961, and the first owner owned it until 1969, when he sold it to the second, who kept it until October 2022. Among other things, the soft-top, windshield, side windows, and floor mats are original, and the car has never been restored. The original color was yellow and the soft top was black. It was the sixth example with brake discs, and was exhibited at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961.

Two independent experts have certified the identity and originality of the Mercedes 300 SL Roadster owned by Grieser, which is now painted red. Classic car dealer Grieser says that “we have also the car that was built seven chassis numbers earlier. That was the reference car for me.”.

Mercedes 300 sl Grieser

Mercedes 300 SL Roadster owned by Ralph Grieser

Conclusion

In conclusion, Ralph Grieser is convinced that he owns the original example and this is certified by two independent experts. Grieser also says that the car with the fake body number was discovered in Malaysia. The expert who analyzed it confirms that it is not the original car. On the other hand, in Kienle’s view “the initial hypothesis of the investigating authorities, which was also the reason for the search, has been disproved”.