The Mercedes-Benz SL convertibles are now legends, but every legend has to start somewhere, and in this case it was the 1963 Mercedes-Benz 230SL. In a time when true sports cars were finicky affairs, always needing tuning and babying of all kinds, the 230SL was head and shoulders above the rest. Not only was its style durable – always a good thing – but the car was as well. Reliable and trustworthy, and every inch a sports car, it delivered the usable performance drivers of high quality automobiles crave, with none of the usual complications (such as leaky roofs, hardtops that don’t fit, et cetera). Over its 8 year production run, it was continuously improved with trusted technology, although its shape remained.
The original 230SL was powered by a relatively small 2.3-liter straight-six, nothing fancy, developing 150 horsepower. Its low weight contributed greatly to giving the car its sporting lettres de noblesse, and was a delight to drive. The car could reach a top speed of 120 miles per hour, and accelerated to 60 in just under 10 seconds. Over the years, the model evolved, with new, more powerful engines being installed, but the performance did not change so much.
The 1963 Mercedes-Benz 230SL established what a modern, luxurious convertible sports car should be, and it’s never looked back, and has inspired countless others.