Mercedes-Benz 300 SL - 'The sports car of the century' 6 years ago

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL - 'The sports car of the century'

The Mercedes-Benz SL 300 was named "The sports car of the century" by a panel of experts back in 1999. So we've decided to take a brief look into the deep history of the famous 'Gullwing'.

The origins of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL begin way back in post-World War II Germany. Around that time, the country was focused on rebuilding its destroyed cities and citizens were focused on rebuilding their lives and creating a new beginning – as was Mercedes-Benz.

In 1952, seven years after the war ended, Mercedes-Benz created the 300 SL racing car (also known in house as the W 194). The 300 SL racing car (SL stands for "Sport Leicht" or Sport Light) was extremely successful and garnered a lot of support and attention for Mercedes-Benz among the general public; so much so that it would restore the brand to its former glory and establish the tradition of a legendary sports car family.

Two years later, in 1954, after taking the advice of Daimler-Benz's official importer in the USA, Max Hoffman, Mercedes-Benz decided to release a road going version of the 300 SL sports car. It debuted at the New York motor show, which was particularly important for the 300 SL as most other Mercedes-Benz made their debuts at the Frankfurt or Geneva shows. This was because Hoffman suggested that a road going 300 SL would be the perfect sports car for affluent post-war American families – and he certainly wasn’t wrong.

The general public fell in love with this sleek and elegant European sports car, which would become the world's first series production passenger car that came with a four-stroke engine. The 300 SL was fitted with petrol injection, designed to improve both performance and efficiency and came with the famous gullwing doors that would became an unmistakable feature of the 300 SL. The unique doors would eventually lead to the car being given the simple nickname of 'The Gullwing'.

The production of the 300 SL gullwing ceased in 1957, which lead to the introduction of the drop-top roadster version. The roadster version of the 300 SL ran from 1958 to 1963.

Ultra rare 300 SL - this one sold for €3,234,000 earlier this year...

Today, an original 300 SL will set you back in the region of $700,000 to $1 million; however, in January of 2012, an ultra rare 300 SL built with an aluminium alloy body (one of only 29) sold for a whopping $4.2 million (€3,234,000). So it’s safe to say that the 300 SL stood the test of time and in fairness, it has done so with class, style and elegance.