Over 60 years after this Mercedes-Benz 300SL was introduced to the world, it STILL remains as one of the most successful and popular cars in history. This Mercedes Benz was packed with advanced technology features including its six-cylinder engine, light weight body and elegant gullwing doors.
Inspiration in creating the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
Like many ground breaking and memorable cars in history, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL’s innovative features were inspired by racing. Particularly, the idea of creating this wonderful Mercedes-Benz 300 SL came from the 1952 W194 series 300 SL. This car won first and second place in 24 hours of Le Mans while it got the third place in 24 hours of Nürburgring. In addition to its impressive racing records, the 1952 W194 series 300 SL also won the 1,900 mile Carrera Panamericana Race.
What Makes This Car So Successful?
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL’s power is from the same engine that is used on 300-series limousines and sedans. Its engine was slanted 50 degrees inside the engine bay’s left side and it makes the SL’s center of gravity closer to the ground.
To maximize every bit of its horsepower, a Mercedes engineer named Rudolf Uhlenhaut created a frame of thin tubing. This frame only weighs 110 pounds and this framework holds the secret behind the car’s iconic gullwing doors. Mercedes perfected this structure to effectively use the gullwing door without the chance of losing the car’s stability.
Max Hoffman convinced Mercedes to release a production version of the car to the public. This move is for those people who are not paid race car drivers. Max Hoffman is the official importer of cars by Mercedes-Benz into the United States and he knew that the 300 SL would be a hit to American car enthusiast.
The company decided to try Max Hoffman’s suggestions and in 1954, the 300 SL was introduced into the public in International Motor Sports Show in New York.
The Difference Between The Production And Racing Version of the 300 SL
The production version featured several new features that are not available in 1952 racing version of the 300 SL. The production version has Fuel Injection; this feature increased the car’s power and fuel efficiency. This feature was developed by Bosch using the 1953 W194/11 racing car prototype. With this feature, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL managed to accelerate from 0-60mph in just 8 seconds. Its engine has a top speed of 161mph and it was rated with 250hp.
From 1954 to 1957, Mercedes-Benz manufactured over 1,400 Gullwing coupes. This car became a symbol of success for the rich people and even after 60 years, this car didn’t lose its status and it remained as a high profile vehicle.
Today, the estimated value for a Gullwing 300 SL is over a million dollars. In 2014, a 300 SL was sold by Rick Cole Auctions for $1.6 million while RM auctions sold a 1955 300 SL with a staggering price of $2.53 million.
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