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Look away: Classic Mercedes-Benz 300SL gullwing crashes in Mille Miglia

For every classic-car owner, there’s a habitual mental calculation of whether to protect a valuable car by sealing it in a tomb-like garage, or actually enjoying it but risking potentially-catasptrophic accidents.

The owner of this 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL took that risk, and unfortunately things didn’t work out. The car was crashed during the Mille Miglia, an Italian vintage-car rally that traces the route of one of history’s greatest races.

According to the Italian website Tuscia Web, the driver of a BMW 1 Series lost control on a broken stretch of road and ran headlong into the SL. The Mercedes spun and, while the damage looks pretty gruesome, there were reportedly no major injuries.

Known as the “Gullwing” because of its distinctive roof-hinged doors, the 300SL coupe and its convertible sibling are among the most desirable collector cars today.

The 300SL helped Mercedes get back on its feet after World War II, winning races and showing the reconstituted company’s technical prowess. Its 3.0-liter straight-six propelled it to a top speed of 161 mph.

It also launched the SL line of sports cars that’s still around today, and inspired the Mercedes SLS AMG.

Today, a pristine 300SL is worth $500,000 to $700,000, although some examples have reportedly sold for over $1 million. With that much value tied up in its sheet metal, hopefully this SL’s owner will decide to rebuild it rather than scrap it.

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