Even if you are not a car enthusiast, you are certainly familiar with the image of a Mercedes SL. For the better part of the last 70 years, this car has been a definitive Mercedes product and an undeniable symbol of wealth and success. Started in the early 1950s, the story about the Mercedes SL is one of the more interesting sagas in the whole history of the automobile industry. From the modest beginnings, as a purpose built race car in war-torn Germany to must-have accessories of successful yuppies all over the world, the SL evolution was quite specific. And although some enthusiasts say that its racing roots were soon forgotten in favor of wider appeal and better sales, SL has always retained a sense of performance and speed as a reminder of its glorious past, even if driven slowly on the boulevards.
Besides the fact that the Mercedes SL was always a prestigious machinery which was proudly displayed by its owners, the value of it was far more than just an expensive ride. Mercedes always invested an enormous amount of time and effort into its construction, new materials, new technologies and quality, all of which has put the SL into a class of its own. The SL was always a competent car, capable of awarding its owner with unmatched pace and speed if needed, and was often out-performing contemporary sports cars. In a word, it was a car for jumping continents in fast Autobahn blasts as well as slowly cruising through the crowded streets of the French Riviera. So, let`s see how the legend of the Mercedes SL came to be.
Mercedes 300 SL (1954-1963)
After the end of Second World War, Mercedes was in terrible shape, as was the whole German car industry. The company barely existed and the market for its cars was very limited. But even in that kind of circumstances, maverick engineers from Stuttgart knew that racing is a way to attract buyers and present the company`s know-how in the best possible light. So, in the early 1950s, the W198 300SL was born. It was a pure racing car with highly tuned and fuel injected 3.0-liter straight six engine, and with a host of advanced technical solutions, never seen before on any racing or road going vehicle. As expected, it was very successful on the racing tracks and in SLR form on famous races like Targa Florio, Mille Miglia and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Mercedes didn`t have the intentions of making it a production model, but Max Hoffman, the Mercedes importer for the USA, was very persistent and suggested the company that the car could be a sales hit if offered as a road going version. The company was reluctant but in 1954, it introduced the Mercedes 300 SL “Gullwing”.
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