Some people claim that it is the most beautiful car ever made. But one thing is undisputable, it is one of the most recognizable and beautiful cars ever built. A true classic
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL better known as the Gullwing is a breath-taking piece of art on wheels. But what is it that makes the Gullwing so special?
First of course is its unique design, which turned out to be a true eye candy in the porn archive of automotive history. The first Mercedes-Benz 300SL was built in 1952 as a race car (the W194) and at the same time is exactly the reason why it became the Gullwing. As a race care the Gullwing had to be streamlined and low to the ground thus would cause normal doors to be too low. The genius engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut came up with the idea to use the gullwing doors so he could use the roof and thus create more headspace.
Letting aside the design that should actually just be admired by looking at the porn like pictures, the car was all about performance as well. The 3.0 liter straight 6, with its whopping 222 horsepower engine, is fitted in at a 45 degree angle to the left so the bonnet could be lowered. Actually it’s the other way around. The engine didn’t fit under the bonnet in its current design so without giving up an inch, quite literally at that, they decided that the engine should be placed in an awkward and unheard position.
The distinguishable steel colour of the car is anything but a thoroughly planned action of the designers. On the contrary, it was a last minute desperate measure to reduce the weight of the car. Apparently right before the 300SL would have its big debut at the race, Mercedes-Benz found out that the weight control was messed up and it seemed like the Gullwing had cheated during his diet. After removing all that was possible one last measure was taken, scraping off the paint of the car. Disturbingly surprising this little trick seemed to work and the Gullwing barely made it through the weight control. Raising eyebrows all over the world with its unique design and remarkable colour.
The Gullwing was such a huge success that the official US importer of Daimler-Benz suggested that a road legal version would be a huge commercial success. This quite possibly being the second genius decision a road legal Gullwing was built in 1954, which made it the fastest production car of its day. This all was at a time when Lamborghini was only making tractors and Ferrari could barley compete with the big boys. By setting performances and looks that where unique in those days, the Gullwing is described as the world’s first super car. But above all a true super car must not look like anything else on the face of the earth, that’s exactly what the Mercedes-Benz 300SL is.