One in all Historical past’s Most Stunning Vehicles Could Additionally Be the Most Modern

Sixty years after its debut, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing stays one of the crucial lovely automobiles ever made. Even while you paint it beige and canopy its seats in shriek-inducing pink and inexperienced plaid, it is beautiful. However extra importantly—at least within the annals of automotive history—the automotive was full of revolutionary tech like a slanted inline six-cylinder engine, gasoline injection, a light-weight body, and people superb doorways.

Like with many automotive innovations, the 300 SL’s groundbreaking options have been born from racing. It began with the 1952 W 194 sequence 300 SL, which took first and second place on the 24 Hours of Le Mans; first, second, and third on the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring; and first within the 1,900-mile Carrerra Panamericana race.

Two components made the SL so profitable. For energy, the Germans took the engine used within the 300-series sedans and limousines and stuffed it below the SL’s lengthy hood. They slanted the 3-liter inline six-cylinder 50 levels to the left, which pushed the automotive’s middle of gravity nearer to the bottom and maintained the low, glossy line of the hood. Chrysler’s well-known 225 Slant Six, equally tilted setup, did not debut till 1960.

To make every little bit of horsepower simpler, Mercedes engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut developed a body of skinny tubing that weighed simply 110 kilos. That tubular framework is the explanation behind the automotive’s iconic characteristic, its gullwing doorways. Mercedes couldn’t minimize into the body to suit standard doorways with out sacrificing stability, so it hinged the doorways to swing up as a substitute of out.

Thankfully for individuals who weren’t paid race automotive drivers, Mercedes determined to deliver a manufacturing model of the automotive to market. That transfer is credited to Max Hoffman, the official importer of Mercedes-Benz automobiles to the American market. He knew the automotive could be successful right here within the States and badgered the brass till they caved. And so the 300 SL Coupe was born, introduced on the Worldwide Motor Sports activities Present in New York in February 1954, full with the tubular house body and gullwing doorways.

The manufacturing automotive had one thing the 1952 racing model lacked: Gasoline injection. Mercedes used the system, developed by Bosch, within the 1953 W194/11 racing automotive prototype, and the coupe was the primary manufacturing automotive to characteristic it. Switching from carburetors to gasoline injection elevated gasoline effectivity and energy. The engine cranked out 215 horsepower, ok to go from 0 to 60 mph in eight seconds. With a prime velocity of 161 mph, the 300 SL was the quickest manufacturing automotive of the age, in accordance with RM Auctions.

Between 1954 and 1957, Mercedes made 1,400 Gullwing coupes. The automaker says “the road-going racing coupé grew to become the image of success for the wealthy and the gorgeous of its day and age, a dream come true for just a few different individuals and for a lot of a dream they have been at the least in a position to see and listen to every so often.” This is without doubt one of the uncommon events the place the advertising converse isn’t hype. Six a long time after the primary of these automobiles hit the highway, these which are left routinely promote for six-digit figures. Throughout this yr’s Pebble Seaside festivities, Rick Cole Auctions bought a 1956 300 SL for $1.6 million, and RM Auctions despatched a 1955 mannequin to a brand new proprietor for a whopping $2.53 million.

The unique SL 300s have been a ache to keep up and a bit quirky on the dealing with aspect, however they sparked fairly the road of offspring. The most recent is the 2015 SLS AMG GT, a $220k gullwing-ed beast with a 6.3-liter V8 that rockets the automotive from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. If you happen to’ve obtained one, maintain onto it—it may cross the public sale block for lots extra money after one other 60 years.

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