Let’s hope we all look as good when we turn 60.

There are timeless classics, and then there’s the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. The gullwing coupe debuted in 1954, but 60 years ago this month saw the premiere of the 300 SL Roadster at the Geneva Motor Show. As both versions of the iconic two-seater are considered among the greatest cars of all time, Mercedes is keen to brag just a bit for the SL Roadster’s anniversary. Understandable. 

The company certainly has cause to celebrate. When the 300 SL first hit the scene, it was sleek, elegant, and quite advanced for the day: it even had the first-ever use of fuel injection in a production vehicle. It was adapted from the W194 race car that Mercedes had been campaigning to great success, using a combination of steel and aluminium to keep overall weight down to just over 1100 kg. Under the bonnet was an inline-six with a single overhead cam, producing approximately 215 horsepower, propelling the 300 SL to speeds upwards of 140 miles per hour.

 

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

 

In slicing off the roof, Mercedes engineers were keen to keep the 300’s rigidity and handling prowess intact. The frame was duly redesigned on the sides to accommodate classic side-opening doors while adding strength. Modifications to the rear created room for the single-joint swing axle and springs, while also freeing up space for a larger boot. Initially, the 300 SL Roadster was only given a manually-operated soft top; the removable hard top wasn’t available until 1959. Minor changes to the headlights rounded out the significant differences to the gull-wing coupe, with the conversion adding roughly 120 kg.

Production of the 300 SL Roadster ended on February 8, 1963. 1,858 were built in total, and if you want a well-kept original for your collection, expect to shell out figures approaching £1 million at the bare minimum. The new Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster is the 300 SL's spiritual successor, and you could certainly own one for considerably less. But the only way to have that proper spiritual experience is to go old-school. And for some, that experience is priceless.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

 

 

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