A true classic motorcar that has had star quality from day one. There has never been a time when a Mercedes-Benz Gullwing has failed to turn heads and been admired as probably the “finest classic car of all time”!
Without doubt, those ‘” Gullwing Doors” are totally responsible for the cars total admiration. When the world first saw Hermann Lang climbing out of his car after winning Le Mans in 1952, they could not have created a greater sensation than anything else in motoring history. In fact, those doors were merely an expedient because the 300SL’s true spaceframe chassis and high sills necessitated hinging the doors on the roof. Such was the stir they caused, however, that the organisers of the Mille Miglia (where 300SLs took second and fourth) tried to ban them!
The “SL” moniker (translated to English as Sport Light) reflected the pioneering use of a welded, tubular-steel, ultra-light frame construction that weighed only 182 pounds. The car also featured fully independent suspension in addition to its fuel-injected, 3.0-litre OHC straight-six engine with dry-sump lubrication. The engine was inclined to the side to reduce the height of the front end.
The power was rated at 215 brake horsepower at 5,800 rpm (DIN) and delivered through a four-speed manual gearbox. A 161-mph top speed and 0–60 acceleration of approximately eight seconds, depending on the rear-end ratio selected from five options, made the 300 SL the fastest production automobile of its time.
The 300 SL in its day was also raced and piloted by some of the world leading racing drivers and without doubt the number one driver associated with the car was of course, Sir Stirling Moss, who holds the “forever” course record for his famous Mille Miglia finish in 1955. It all added to the romance of a car that seemed destined to become a legend the moment production began of the “Gullwing”. The car has all the right ingredients to make these models the most incredible classic cars of all time!
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was the epitome of this racing heritage. SL stood for ‘Sport Leicht’ or Sport Light and the Gullwing was successfully produced from 1954 until 1957. With a top speed of over 155 mph together with its striking looks the 300 SL Gullwing took the public, motoring press and the automotive community by storm.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster was launched at the 1957 Geneva Salon and Mercedes told the press. “The 300 SL Roadster is our response to the demand in many countries for a particularly fast, comfortable, open sports car. This automobile offers a wide range of technical achievements for even greater driving safety and motoring comfort as well as a high standard of practical everyday value for touring in real style.”
Mercedes may well have been accused of being somewhat conservative in their appraisal of their new car. The Roadster would match the Gullwing’s 155 mph making it one of the fastest road cars in the world. In addition, a redesigned rear suspension layout made the car’s handling inherently superior to its predecessor.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster remains, today, a stunningly beautiful supercar. With superlative handling and blinding looks this car would grace any collection and yet remains a practical, sporting, road car.