In 1952 Mercedes-Benz built a brand new car for the sportscar racing season, which they dubbed the W194. The 3 litre straight-6 was vicious on the track, taking home the gold at 24 Hours of Le Mans, Bern-Bremgarten, Carrera Panamericana and other high profile races. Only 10 of the cars were built for racing, but at the suggestion of Daimler-Benz’s official US importer Max Hoffman, Mercedes introduced a production version of the car, known as the 300SL, which went on sale on this day in 1954.
The 300SL borrowed the same engine as its racing predecessor but was introduced with direct fuel injection, opposed to the triple two-barrel Solex carburetors of the racer. The 300 SL was available as a Gullwing coupe or a roadster, of which 1400 and 1858 were built, respectively, between 1954 and 1963. Today it is one of the most sought after vintage vehicles and purchasing one often demands upwards of $1,000,000.
Cover: Schloss Dyck Classic Days 2013 – Mercedes Flügeltürer (“Wingdoors”) by Jorbasa Fotografie CC 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/foYhRT.