Known around the world as the ‘Gullwing’, the 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe remains one of the most famous and popular cars ever built, evewn though bery few of them were actually, built, only 1400 until 1957. It was then replaced by the convertible roadster version, which was an attempt to alleviate some of the issues plaguing the Gullwing, namely that because of the roof-hinge configurations, they were fragile, leaky and very difficult to service and that despite their awesome good looks, they were absolutely loathed by the Mercedes-Benz dealers who had to deal with them on an intimate, mechanical basis.
The 300SL was powered by a fuel-injected 3-liter inline six-cylinder, producing 240 horsepower. The engine was installed at a slant in order to keep the level of the hood nice and low, giving the car its very distinctive appeal. It could reach a top speed of 150 miles per hour, and accelerate to 60 mph in 8.8 second, very impressive figures for the mid-50s.
Power was driven to the rear wheels through a four-speed manual transmission; although car was fast and fun to drive, it was famously challenging to drive at high speed, thanks to the finickiness of the swing-axle rear suspension, an issue that was fixed in later models.
The low, wide and bulging 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing coupe and its roadster successor may not have sold many units – as few as 3,200 in total – but hey remain incredibly popular and collectible.