|Colour:||Fire Engine Red|
It is impossible to talk about the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster without referring to it’s predecessor, or rather the car that introduced it- the legendary 300SL ‘Gullwing’ coupe. Initially, it was conceived of as a racing car that racked up a number of victories in 1952- the first notable double victory in 1952 during the 24 hours of Le Mans, preceded by the triple win at Bern on the 18th of May, 1952. Continuing with a series of outstanding successes for Mercedes-Benz, it won the four-fold victory at the Great Jubilee Prize at Nürburgring in August of the same year and another double win in the 3rd Carrera Panamericana in Mexico in November, the last exceptional event of the extremely successful 1952 racing season.
The process of capturing the idea of a toned-down Grand Prix tailored car to the post-war American market was initially suggested by Max Hoffman. With the extremely successful racing season coming to a close, Hoffman persuaded the Daimler-Benz board to create a 300 SL for the road. With designers and engineers torn over compromising the purity of the original, the bodywork was created to reduce drag as much as was possible. When first introduced, Mercedes decided to debut the 300 SL at its 1954 New York show as opposed to Frankfurt or Geneva, as it had done in the past. Instantly successful upon inception and a timeless icon today, the 300 SL was absolutely unique with its distinctive doors, first-ever production fuel injection, and world’s fastest top speed. While the original coupé was available from March 1955 to 1957 and the roadster from 1957 to 1963. In the first two and a half years, 1,402 SL’s were sold even though it had an asking price of $11,000.
Despite its skyrocketing success, by 1957, SL sales dropped significantly. The introduction of the roadster style SL proved extremely popular in America – customer demand largely seemed to suggest that more comfort and and a larger trunk would be favourable upgrades from the previous models. That year, the 300 SL Roadster was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show, as an entirely re-engineered car, with fixes that bogged down the first 300 SL- most importantly the suspension. The double wishbone front layout was acclaimed for its outstanding precision.
When the Roadster version of the 300SL was introduced, the fuel tank capacity was reduced from 130 litres to 100 litres, but arguably the biggest benefit the Roadster gained over the Gullwing was superior ventilation. Due at least in part to the coupe’s small in/out side windows, the hard top 300SL was regarded by many as tough work on long trips due to heat buildup in the cabin. Even with its roof up the Roadster’s wind-up windows allowed much better airflow through the cockpit.
By no means the poor relation to the Gullwing, the later refinements added to the Roadster made it a compelling proposition for collectors and enthusiasts despite a list price of $10,950. And while the coupe had a model-run of under three years, the Roadster stayed in production until early 1963, by which time 1,858 had been built.
The 300SL retained the space frame chassis of the race car and was powered by a 2,996cc overhead camshaft, inline 6 canted at 45 degrees to achieve a lower more dynamic bonnet line. Using innovative direct fuel injection this state of the art engine produced 215bhp at 5,800rpm and each unit was exhaustively dynamometer tested prior to final installation. A four speed gearbox transmitted power to the hypoid bevel rear axle, while suspension was independent all round by wishbones and coil springs at the front with swing axles and coil springs at the rear.
Today, the 300SL Roadster still carries with it an indelible aura of speed, power and sophisticated style. Fast enough for the sports car lover and comfortable enough for those who demand some luxury, it has remained one of the most admired automobiles in the world for nearly 60 years.
Offered here for the first time in the last 40 years, this outstanding matching numbered example as per its data card is still finished in its original colour combination of 534 ( G ) Fire Engine Red with Ebony Black trim. This 300SL Roadster is a truly an exceptional example in time warp condition and an exceptional opportunity not to do duplicated.