Mercedes 300SL Gullwing
This car was the equivalent of three 180, or six VW 1200 export engines...the true supercar of the 1950's.
The dawn of the SL series.
The car was developed after World War II, based on the racing sports cars of the early 1950's. The debut of the production version of the SL, was showcased at the international motor sports show of 1954, sporting its trademark gullwing design doors. These doors were far from being pubically attractive though, they were designed specifically with racing in mind, and were made to facilitate the design of the car. This new sports car was so compact in height, that it would not permit conventional doors. However, these doors became the 300SL's main attraction, it inspired its admirers to coin fond epithets, for example the flugelturer in Germany, gullwing in England, and the papillion (meaning butterfly!) in France.
The Mercedes Benz 300 SL was the worlds fastest production motorcar at the time. It featured a fuel injected six cylinder, three litre engine, capable of producing 215 BHP, and a top speed of 155 MPH. The engine was tilted sideways, giving the 300 SL an aerodynamic front. This installation coined the phrase 'power domes', becoming a synonymous symbol of Merc.
The Mercedes gullwing was not built as a sports car. However, this fact did not stop it winning motor sport victories. In December 1999, the 300SL was given the title Sports Car of The Century, issued by an international panel of judges.
1957 saw the car replaced by the Merc 300SL Roadster - a top of the range version of the car with no roof, and conventional doors.
Then came the 300 SLR, an eight cylinder, three litre supercar, capable of producing 302 BHP, taking the speed up to a staggering 180 MPH.
This car was known as the Uhlenhaut Coupe, and was developed as a long-distance racer. However, it also doubled as a company road car. Due to the space frame design of the Mercedes 300 SLR, gullwing doors were fitted again.
The new version debuted in 1955, however in October of that year it was withdrawn from racing, and became Rudolph Uhlenhaut's company car, adopting the name Uhlenhaut Coupe. The SLR failed on the racing circuit due to its massive fuel consumption, and the need for heavy maintenance after each race.