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Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing

December 1, 2016

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the 1954–1963 model.

DESIGN, a race car for the street.

New York Mercedes distributor Max Hoffman, Daimler-Benz’s official importer in the USA, suggested to Daimler-Benz AG management in Stuttgart that a street version of the W194 Gran Prix racer would be a commercial success, especially in America.

The racing W194 300 SL was built around a welded aluminum tube spaceframe chassis to offset its relatively underpowered carbureted straight-6 engine.  Designed by Daimler-Benz’s chief developing engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, the metal skeleton saved weight while still providing a high level of strength. Since it enveloped the passenger compartment traditional doors were impossible, giving birth to the model’s distinctive gull-wing arrangement.

Even with the upward opening doors, the 300 SL had an unusually high sill, making entry and exit from the car’s cockpit problematic. A steering wheel with a tilt-away column was added to improve driver access.

The 300 SL’s main body was steel, with aluminum hood, doors and trunk lid. It could also be ordered with an 80 kg (180 lb) saving all-aluminium outer skin at tremendous added cost; just 29 were made.

More than 80% of the vehicle’s total production of approximately 1400 units were sold in the US, making the Gullwing the first Mercedes-Benz widely successful outside its home market and thoroughly validating Hoffman’s prediction. The 300 SL is credited with changing the company’s image in America from a manufacturer of solid but staid luxury automobiles to one capable of rendering high-performance sports cars.

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing


  • Manufacturer: Mercedes Benz
  • Production: 1952-1953 (Racing Car)
  • Production: 1954-1963 (Production Car)
  • Assembly: Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, Germany


  • Class:  Sports Car, GT (S)
  • Body Style:  2 Door Coupe, Roadster
  • Platform:  Mercedes-Benz W198
  • Doors:  Gullwing Doors


  • Engine:  2996 cc M198 SOHC I6
    158–166 kW; 215–225 PS (212–222 hp)
  • Trasmission:  4-speed Manual

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