Earl Bruce's 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing

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A photo of Earl's Gullwing taken at the Norwalk Motorcade show. In April of 2024, Keith Christensen told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that he believed the car made its debut at the 1955 or 1956 Norwalk Motorcade. Photo from The Bob Stephenson Photo Collection.
A photo of Earl Bruce's flamboyant Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, captured at the 1957 Long Beach Renegades Car Club Renecade. This Gullwing wasn't just any luxury sports car; it was a custom sensation adorned with dramatic flames that mirrored the fiery passion of the era's car culture. Snapped on July 4 at Bellflower High School, this image hails from a show with entrants from all over California vying for a towering 56-inch trophy for best in show. Von Dutch gave the car its iconic flame paint job in 1956, and he once told Terry Cook that he thought they were going to lynch him for desecrating a shrine. Earl's Mercedes stands as a testament to the ingenuity and boldness that defined the car shows of the 1950s. Photo from The George Contaoi Photo Collection.

Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing owned by Earl Bruce. Circa 1956 Von Dutch gave Earl's Mercedes a radical and unusual flame paint job. Later in his career, Von Dutch told Terry Cook that the hardest thing to paint was a long straight line, "which is of course true. When I asked him if it was factual that he was the first to paint flames on a car he said he first did it on motorcycles, but "Hell, the Lafayette Escadrille painted flames on their airplanes in WWI." One time he did a full flame job on a Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing coupe and he said: "I thought they were going to lynch me for desecrating a shrine."[1]



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