Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing” Review
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing” is without a doubt one of the most beautiful classic cars of all time. And it is not just elegant but also sports car. That’s one of the reasons many collectors are crazy about it. Speaking about the era of the car, it was definitely the fastest one.
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL was produced between 1954 and 1963 and it was the first Coupe produced with gullwing doors. Next with these doors is the Roadster which is produced 3 years later. The version with direct fuel injection was based on Mercedes 1952 racer that was equipped with powerful carburetor-powered engine. The first introduction of the car was in February 1954 at the International Motor Sports Show in New York. The reason of introducing it in the US instead of Europe is Maximilian Hoffman (famous importer of European luxury cars in the US) – the person who suggested building the car. Back then it was rated as sports car of the century. The letters “SL” stand for “super-light” and they refer to the light frame construction.
Initially Mercedes did not make the 300SL for mass production. The idea of making it to affluent sport car enthusiasts in the post-war American market was suggested by Max Hoffman. He proposed the production of the car on a meeting in Stuttgart in 1953. The director of Mercedes agreed and ordered the production of 1000 cars that would be introduced in New York later.
Some of the early reviews include the review by Autocar in 1955.
They began with the following:
“This coupé is in full production for sale to those who have the ability to handle and the means to purchase such a car. As is well known, the two essentials do not often go together.”
Later they commented the performance of the vehicle with:
“For a passenger who has not traveled in the 300 SL before, the effect is electrifying. The occupant receives at first a mild pressing back into the seat and then, as the power comes in between 3500rpm and 400rpm, he feels as though he is being rocketed through space. Up to 70mph is available in second gear, and then comes a quick movement into third. The rev counter needle drops back for a second or two and, again at 4000rpm, the effect of being urged forward by some irresistible force is felt.
Mercedes 300SL has been in the top places of the classic car industry for many years now and probably this will not change in the following years. It will certainly gain even more value as with the years they are becoming harder to find.
Images by Michael Kauer