The Mercedes 300SL is a two door coupe and it is rightfully a German classic. The SL is short for Super Light, designed to be a feather weight racer with it’s light tubular frame construction.
It was considered to be the worlds first super car, a world in which 160 km/h was remarkable in itself but the SL had speeds of 263 km/h. The SL at the time was truly something to behold, engineering brilliance and joyous on the gaze. In fact, it won Sports car of the century in 1999.
Needless to say then that the 300SL is electrifying to drive as it can reach up to 110 km/h in just second gear which is impressive acceleration. The car is a fairly easy drive too when sitting behind the huge steering wheel that gives the driver a full feel for control. Keep in mind to bring ear plugs though as there is minimal noise isolation but this keeps you immersed in the experience.
In collector’s circles, the 1955 SL is a prestigious item, seldom sold for anything short of 7 digits. One extremely rare model for instance sold for $4.2 million, so if this car has caught your interest you might need to save some pennies to afford one.
Mercedes were exploring the concept of building something special but the time was not right in post-war, German austerity. However, after being convinced by a New York based importer to animate that concept in an affluent American market, Mercedes took business across the pond to build an American friendly sports car.
300 SL features
The SL is mesmerising to look at with its sleek structure and unique doors. The term for the door structure is called Gullwing or Falcon wing which is an up-door that is interestingly hinged from the roof rather than the side, making for a distinctive and eye catching look.
Living up to its name, the Super Light was built with what they call an aluminium tubular frame to achieve a lighter weight, in which they did, weighing in at 81 kilograms. It also had aluminium doors, bonnet, boot lid and dashboard which were all designed to reduce the final weight. There is also steel infused to the frame to add support. This was also because the reality of having an all-aluminium frame would be too expensive.
“Just don’t expect to be able to bring you golf clubs”
The interior seating came in many designs such as grey/green, grey/blue, cream/red and even checkered patterns. The seats also come in fabric or leather options. As the coupe only comes with 2 seats and a small trunk for the spare wheel, it isn’t the most practical car if space and luggage is in the buyer’s desire but you can fit a number of cartable things in behind the 2 seats. Just don’t expect to be able to bring your golf clubs.
The wing doors aren’t the most practical feature either as it can be awkward to enter or exit as the doors sit very high. Although, it is fun to watch the hyrdohlic door open after a simple button press.
In addition to those practical concerns, the steering wheel sits very close to the seat which also makes the entrance an awkward ordeal although there is an option to remove the wheel or tilt it. If it may sound stingy on space, that isn’t the case once you’re inside, surprisingly there is sufficient shoulder and headroom and the cabin is breathable with good visibility in all directions.
All in all, this car doesn’t have a perfect pedigree of practicality but that was never the intention. If one is interested in this car, that won’t be based on the practicality. This machine is designed for those style junkies who want nothing but an experience and to turn heads to which they will not be disappointed. This car isn’t for the family or the faint hearted, it’s a car for true petrol heads.