1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL: 100 Autos That Make a difference

Mercedes-Benz and dad or mum automaker Daimler didn’t walk absent from Entire world War II unscathed. It was then-Daimler Chairman Wilhelm Haspel’s notion to acquire the Mercedes-Benz division back to motorsport in an hard work to start rebuilding the storied organization.

Foremost, Mercedes required a race automobile.

Enter the W194. The brand’s first new sports motor vehicle right after the war, the W194 coupe completed second in its to start with race the Mille Miglia. It then went on to acquire the Bern Athletics Automobile Prize, the famed 24 Hrs of Le Mans, and the Carrera Panamericana. Although the W194 quickly turned a embellished machine, 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 auto at Nurburgring in 1952

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

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

As an alternative, a prominent New York-based importer of European luxurious vehicles named Max Hoffman recommended Mercedes-Benz necessary to produce a confined operate of cars and trucks in the spirit of the W194. A calendar year just after the W194 took the globe by surprise in motorsport, Mercedes-Benz’s Common Director Fritz Konecke gave the get for 1,000 athletics automobiles. Hence 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 Global Motorsports Show

In 1954, Mercedes-Benz discovered the W198-generation 300 SL at the International Motor Sport Display in New York. Whilst an vehicle debut in New York isn’t odd right now, it marked a change for Mercedes-Benz. Usually, the German firm unveiled its cars and trucks at dwelling or at the Geneva motor clearly show. Nonetheless, Hoffman persuaded the luxurious automaker it would be a grand idea to woo American prospective buyers with a New York debut.

They concurred, and suddenly, Mercedes-Benz experienced a strike on its fingers. The 300 SL bowed as a coupe with a 3.-liter overhead cam inline-6 engine. Nevertheless, the 300 SL was not only a sports activities automobile to change 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-made direct-fuel injection technique. Remember, fuel injection was scarce at the time and greater tension direct injection would not develop into the conventional for a long time to arrive. The process helped raise electric power nicely over the W194 to 215 hp at the 300 SL’s launch. The race automobile designed do with 175 hp. An upgraded camshaft alternative boosted output to 240 hp. The best speed could prime 160 mph, making the 300 SL the fastest manufacturing vehicle in the globe.

1954-1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL spaceframe

1954-1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL spaceframe

Mercedes designed the 300 SL on a spaceframe or “birdcage” chassis. It highlighted a separate welded steel physique, but the firewall, hood, doors, trunk lid, rocker panels, and floor and tummy pans were aluminum.

These improvements, mixed with radical “gullwing” doorways and curvaceous entire body strains, served flip the web page for Mercedes-Benz. The organization not only produced stately luxurious cars, but it was also capable of making extraordinary general performance machines.

A full of 1,400 300 SL coupes have been developed from 1954 to 1957, and 29 of them had been light-weight products with all-aluminum bodies that helped shave 187 lb. The 300 SL coupe gave rise to the 300 SL roadster in 1957, which remained in manufacturing in its initially generation right until 1963. Its successor even now exists today and is now in its seventh generation.

Like so many locations of the car business, some of the ideal issues arrived from motorsport. Without having a renewed motivation to racing adhering to WWII, we could under no circumstances have been given a auto like the 300 SL. And devoid of the 300 SL, there could not be such a lineage of earth-beating athletics automobiles from Mercedes-Benz.

—Senior Editor Kirk Bell contributed to this tale