1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL: 100 Cars That Matter

Mercedes-Benz and mother or father automaker Daimler did not walk absent from Entire world War II unscathed. It was then-Daimler Chairman Wilhelm Haspel’s strategy to just take the Mercedes-Benz division back again to motorsport in an effort and hard work to start off rebuilding the storied organization.

Foremost, Mercedes required a race automobile.

Enter the W194. The brand’s to start with new sporting activities motor vehicle after the war, the W194 coupe completed next in its very first race the Mille Miglia. It then went on to earn the Bern Sports Vehicle Prize, the famed 24 Hrs of Le Mans, and the Carrera Panamericana. Whilst the W194 swiftly grew to become a adorned device, it was not the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.

1952 Mercedes-Benz W194 race motor vehicle

1952 Mercedes-Benz W194 race car at Nurburgring in 1952

1952 Mercedes-Benz W194 race motor vehicle at Nurburgring in 1952

1952 Mercedes-Benz W194 race car at 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans

1952 Mercedes-Benz W194 race car at 1952 24 Several hours of Le Mans

As a substitute, a notable New York-primarily based importer of European luxury motor vehicles named Max Hoffman suggested Mercedes-Benz required to generate a limited operate of cars in the spirit of the W194. A calendar year immediately after the W194 took the environment by surprise in motorsport, Mercedes-Benz’s Common Director Fritz Konecke gave the purchase for 1,000 sporting activities autos. So the 300 SL was born.

1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL at 1954 New York International Motorsports Show

1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL at 1954 New York Intercontinental Motorsports Demonstrate

In 1954, Mercedes-Benz discovered the W198-technology 300 SL at the Global Motor Activity Exhibit in New York. Even though an automobile debut in New York isn’t bizarre these days, it marked a shift for Mercedes-Benz. Normally, the German firm unveiled its autos at home or at the Geneva motor demonstrate. Nevertheless, Hoffman certain the luxurious automaker it would be a grand concept to woo American prospective buyers with a New York debut.

They concurred, and instantly, Mercedes-Benz had a hit on its hands. The 300 SL bowed as a coupe with a 3.-liter overhead cam inline-6 engine. Still, the 300 SL was not only a sports activities automobile to transform perceptions, it was a technological marvel.

1954-1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL 3.0-liter inline-6

1954-1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL 3.-liter inline-6

The motor ditched carburetors in favor of a Bosch-developed direct-gasoline injection method. Recall, fuel injection was exceptional at the time and increased stress immediate injection would not become the regular for many years to occur. The method aided increase energy properly around the W194 to 215 hp at the 300 SL’s start. The race auto built do with 175 hp. An upgraded camshaft possibility boosted output to 240 hp. The best velocity could best 160 mph, building the 300 SL the fastest creation car in the environment.

1954-1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL spaceframe

1954-1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL spaceframe

Mercedes constructed the 300 SL on a spaceframe or “birdcage” chassis. It featured a separate welded steel body, but the firewall, hood, doors, trunk lid, rocker panels, and floor and stomach pans ended up aluminum.

These advances, merged with radical “gullwing” doorways and curvaceous human body strains, aided convert the page for Mercedes-Benz. The company not only produced stately luxury cars, but it was also capable of creating outstanding general performance machines.

A overall of 1,400 300 SL coupes were being created from 1954 to 1957, and 29 of them had been lightweight models with all-aluminum bodies that served shave 187 lb. The 300 SL coupe gave rise to the 300 SL roadster in 1957, which remained in manufacturing in its 1st generation until finally 1963. Its successor still exists now and is now in its seventh technology.

Like so numerous places of the vehicle field, some of the very best factors arrived from motorsport. With out a renewed commitment to racing next WWII, we might never ever have been given a vehicle like the 300 SL. And with no the 300 SL, there might not be these types of a lineage of world-beating sporting activities cars and trucks from Mercedes-Benz.

—Senior Editor Kirk Bell contributed to this story