The timeless classic that is the gull-wing coupe Mercedes-Benz 300 SL first came to life back in 1954, and some six decades this month the 300 SL Roadster also premiered at the Geneva Motor Show.
Mercedes is of course looking to get us all wish Happy Birthday to the iconic model, since both versions of the legendary two-seater are ranked among the greatest motor vehicles of all time. Back then, the 300 SL was sporty and elegant, as well as advanced, being the first to use fuel injection in a production vehicle. Inspired and adapted from the very successful W 194 race car, it had a combination of steel and aluminum to make it lightweight – and under the hood there was an inline-six with a single overhead cam, producing approximately 215 horsepower.
When they took off the roof, Mercedes’ engineers went to great legths in keeping the 300’s rigidity and handling – the frame also had to be redesigned to make way for classic side-opening doors and a rework of the back made way for a single-joint swing axle and springs. The 300 SL Roadster was originally exclusive with a manually-operated soft top, but the removable hard top did appear in 1959. The 300 SL Roadster ended production on February 8, 1963 after just 1,858 examples were manufactured.