The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL: The Most Desireable 20th Century Sports Car?

In the early 1950s Mercedes-Benz built a very successful racing sports car that did well at Le Mans, the Nurburgring, and at the Carrera Panamericana in Mexico.  From this base car, Mercedes-Benz decided to develop a production version of the 300 SL.  This car was introduced to the public in February 1954.

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Is Perhaps the Most Desireable Sports Car of the 20th Century

The production version of the race car retained the gull wing doors from the race cars.  The space frame adopted from the race car was strong and only weighed 110 pounds.  But the design height of the frame in the door area did not allow the use of typical doors.  Thus the idea of the gull wing doors came up to solve issue caused by the sill height at the door.

Note the Height of the Door Sills Which Led to the Gull Wing Style Door

The 300 SL had a 2,996cc six-cylinder fuel-injected engine that produced 215 horsepower at 5,800 rpm.  This resulted in a car that had a top speed of 155 mph.  The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL coupe was fast – 1950s fast, not fast as compared to the current sports cars, but in the day the 300 SL was the fastest production car in the world.

The Interior of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

It is interesting to note that the production 300 SL with the fuel injected engine apparently had 40 more horsepower than the carburetted version of this same engine as used in the race cars.  Also the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL inline 6-cylinder engine was tilted sideways to lower the profile of the front of the car to allow the potential for a lower, more aerodynamic body design.

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Had a Smooth Body Design

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was not a race car, but it did win the Liege-Rome-Liege Rally in 1955 and 1956, the European Touring Car Championship in 1955 and 1956 and a class win in the Sports Car Club of America production class in 1955 and 1956.

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gull Wing Coupe Had an Excellent Competition History 

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL gull wing coupe remained in production from 1954 to 1957 with a total of about 1,400 cars being built.  These gull wing coupes are very expensive cars to buy these days.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

In 1957 Mercedes-Benz replaced the gull wing coupe with the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster.  The roadster was based on the gull wing coupe, but design changes were made to the space frame to allow normal doors to be used on the roadster.  The rear axle of the roadster was a single-joint swing axle and from 1961 onward disk brakes were used on all four wheels.  The engine in the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadsters were the same as the engines used in the gull wing coupes.

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadsters Were Based on the Gull Wing Coupes 

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadsters were manufactured from 1957 to 1963.  Over that period 1,858 roadsters were produced.

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster Would be a Great Summer Drive

These are both very nice cars.  The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL gull wing coupe would be a nice car to own and historically it has been a good investment, but as a person who prefers open cars, the roadster would by my choice.

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