Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

 

300SL

Gullwing - Roadster

Club Belgium

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HISTORY of the 300SL

On the race track, the 300SL is a symbol of invincibility. This was it's intended function after all, to revive Daimler Benz competition in racing. On the road, the 300SL is one of the most desirable automobiles ever built. Because it was built for racing, the bodyshell was designed for aerodynamic efficiency. As a result, it had flattened flanks, little imagination was applied to the front end, and there was a lack of trim.

Mercedes Benz did not originally want to build the road going version of their famous racecar. A New Yorker named Max Hoffman put in an order for 1000 vehicles and the road going version of the 300SL was born. These first cars had a US sticker price of $6820.00 rising to a final $8902.00 by the end of the production run.
The road going version of the racecar was restyled. Proven on the racetrack, the 300SL engine was extremely reliable. The engine, slanted to the left (see photo) was necessary to accommodate the low hood line. Other changes and refinements included a steel body shell with aluminum hood, trunk lid, lower rocker panels and doors to save weight. Chromed bumpers were added. The slatted vents on the front fenders were there to allow excess heat from the engine, but also added to the overall styling of the car. As do the "eyebrow" moldings over the wheel well arches. The standard interior consisted of checked cloth fabric similar to that which was used on the racing version. Leather of course was an option, as were fitted leather suitcases. All of the Gullwing coupes were built as left hand drive cars.
During the run of the Gullwing coupe, 29 all aluminum bodied 300SL's were built for special delivery to racing customers. They had the plaid seats, plexiglass windows, Rudge wheels and an "NSL" engine.
The photo at left shows Rudolph Ulenhaut's spaceframe chassis of the 300SL coupe.
The redesigned SL roadster was not only functional, but breathtakingly beautiful. Production of the 300SL coupe began to wane as news of the roadster began to spread. The roadster was a road-going version that was a revised car that fully addressed all the bugs of the coupe. The roadster was heavier and slower, but the styling was much more civilized. The car had overall the same appearance except for being a convertible and the doors were front hinged. The front fenders on the roadster have larger cut-outs to accommodate revised headlights with integral foglights, therefore front fenders on the coupe and roadster cannot be interchanged.
There are quite a lot of features on the roadster version, which were missing from the Gullwing. The fuel tank filler flap was moved to the outside of the left rear fender. Standard features were a Talbot racing mirror, perforated and fluted leather upholstery, padded binnacle and top dash panel, improved heater controls, more luggage space was achieved by cutting fuel tank capacity back to 31.7 gallons, a larger tail light cluster with integral reverse lights, combination gauge between the tachometer and speedometer, handbrake lever moved from the left to the right of the driver, longer windshield wipers on reinforced arms, foglamps, reinforced bumpers, glovebox, swing axle rear suspension, softtop or as an extra cost option a hardtop.
If you are interested in buying one of these great cars, it is a must that you get a professional to inspect it for you, after all, you are getting ready to spend six figures on an automobile. It is equally important to buy the best car you can afford in today’s market. It is less expensive to buy a 300 SL Roadster or Gullwing in great shape than it is to buy a ragged one and restore it. Restoration on these cars runs well into the six figures. If you buy a nice one you can enjoy it next week!

Production Numbers:
Production Numbers of the 300SL Gullwing coupe from August 1954 to May 1957

1954

146 units

1955

867 units

1956

311 units

1957

76 units

total:

1400 units

Production Numbers of the 300SL Roadster from February/May 1957 to February 1963

1957

554 units

1958

324 units

1959

211 units

1960

249 units

1961

250 units

1962

244 units

1963

26 units

total:

1858 units

Chassis number prefixs are:

  • 300SL (racing version) -------------- 194010
  • 300SL (production Coupe) --------- 198040
  • 300SL (aluminum Coupe) ---------- 198043
  • 300SL (roadster) ---------------------- 198042

Engine number prefix is M198 (for all)
The 300 SL Gullwing and Roadster are a very low production automobile. Rarity is one of the main ingredients which makes a car collectible. These fine automobiles have been collectible for a long time. Since most auto enthusiasts take better care of their investments, most of the Gullwings and roadsters are in pretty good shape.
There are some Gullwing and roadsters around which were haphazardly refurbished by some unscrupulous individuals in the late 1980's to cash in on that crazy market.
We strongly suggest you get a qualified third party to inspect the 300SL of your dreams. Below is a diagram for places to check for rust and previous rust repairs.

Please keep in mind that these cars were driven hard when they were young. Let's face it, you buy a sports car to drive it, therefore some of these cars have been crashed, repaired, crashed again, and repaired again. So check the car for accident damage as well. Check the hood fit, headlight fit, door fit, trunklid fit. Check the car on a lift and inspect the tubular chassis for repairs. Park the car on a level spot, step away from the automobile and just look at the car from all angles.
Check the inner wheel aprons front and rear. Check for corrosion around the headlight buckets, wheel arches, trunk floor, the areas behind the rear wheels and the rear roof pillars. (see photo below)

 

Technical Specifications of the 300 SL

 

Gullwing Coupe

Roadster

Engine Type:

6 cyl overhead camshaft

6 cyl overhead camshaft

Bore and stroke:

85 x 88 mm

85 x 88 mm

Displacement:

2996 cc

2996 cc

Power output:

215 hp@5800 rpm

215 hp@5800 rpm

Compression ratio:

8.55:1

9.5:1

Torque:

28 mkg @ 4600rpm

228 ft/lb

Fuel Injection:

Bosch injection pump

Bosch injection pump

Engine speed at 100km/hr:

3000 rpm

3000 rpm

Gear ratios:

I. 3.34:1
II. 1.97:1
III. 1.385:1
IV. 1.00:1

I. 3.34:1
II. 1.97:1
III. 1.385:1
IV. 1.00:1

Rear axle ratio:

3.64

3.64

Chassis:

tubular space frame w/ light alloy body

tubular space frame w/ light alloy body

Suspension:

independent front, swing axle rear with coil springs

independent front, swing axle rear with coil springs

Brakes and area:

drum, 1470 square cm

drum, 1470 square cm

Wheelbase:

2400 mm

2400 mm

Track front/rear:

1385/1435 mm

1398/1448mm

Length:

4520 mm

4570 mm

Width:

1790 mm

1790 mm

Height:

1300 mm

1300 mm

Ground clearance:

130 mm

130mm

Tires:

6.5 x 15 super sport

6.5 x 15 super sport

Turning circle:

11.4 meters

11.4 meters

Steering type and ratio:

recirculating ball, 17.3:1

recirculating ball, 17.3:1

Weight:

1295 kg

1330 kg

Maximum speed:

145 mph

145 mph

Acceleration:

8.7 sec 0-100 km-hr

8.7 sec 0-100 km-hr

Fuel consumption

17 L, super

17 L, super

Fuel tank capacity

130 L (34 gal.)

130 L (34 gal.)

 

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