By Tamer Konat
In 1954, Daimler-Benz introduced the 300SL Coupe to the world at New York’s international motor sports show. This was the first time Mercedes Benz had even exhibited a new model in the United States before it was introduced in Germany.
At the time of it’s unveiling, the 300SL had taken everyone by surprise.
The aggressive styling of Hailian and British sports cars, however much appealing, appeared simple alongside the dramatic shape of the 300SL. The 300SL engine was a direct adaption of the single overhead camshaft six-cylinder used for the 300 Series Sedan, Coupe, Cabriolet and Roadster.
The engine produced 240bhpwith a four speed synchromesh gearbox coupled to the ZF limited slip differential. It’s top speed was 150MPH and the Gullwing could reach 60MPH within 8 seconds.
The sleek, rounded contours of the 300SL body were a perfect match for Uhlenhaut’s Tubular space frame.
Slipping through the air, the cars carried no superfluous trim, no door handles- nothing to increase wind resistance. The wind tunnel revealed a drag coefficient of 0.29- a figure which car manufacturers managed to reach after 40 years.
In addition to the standard Gullwing’s, a limited run of 29 all aluminium 300 SL’s were built between 1955-1956.
As a matter of fact, all 300SL Coupes had aluminium hoods, trunk lids, rocket panels, seat tubs and doors. The rest of the body was steel. The light alloy cars were custom built at the factory as special orders and were additionally fitted with Plexiglas windows and back lights. To further reduce the weight.
The standard production Coupe weighed 2849lbs dry and the alloy cars weighed 2699lbs.
Dessigners Karl Wilfert and Paul Bracq had done an incredible job with the 300SL Gullwing, which no doubt became the most famous 50’s era sports car in the world.
Today, the 300SL Mercedes Gullwing is the ultimate post-war collectible sports car. Prices for the classics are increasing all the time as the Gullwing is a must for serious classic car collectors.
Nowadays, £2,000,000 is a likely sum to spend on a good Gullwing to add to one’s collection.