The Mercedes Benz 300 Sport Leicht is one of the classic cars built in the 1950s that took the auto world by storm. Distinctively known for its gull wing doors, the Mercedes Benz 300 SL was also the first ever car to sport a four-stroke engine with a gasoline direct injection. The car’s commercial production can be attributed to New York Mercedes Benz distributor, Max Hoffman. It sold for 1,400 units, which was 80% of the total number of Mercedes Benz 300 SLs produced. The car also sparked an image change for Mercedes Benz, which Americans now saw as a manufacturer of sporty cars.
Having the first ever Gasoline direct injection engine, the car had double the power of its original carbureted version. Also, having an engine that directly injects the fuel into the cylinders allowed the car to reach a top speed of 260 kilometers per hour which at the time, was the fastest for any production car. The car’s body also employed aerodynamics and the designers of Mercedes Benz decided to place horizontal eyebrows over the car’s wheel openings. These horizontal eyebrows reduced drag which further improved the car’s speed. As a matter of fact, the Mercedes Benz 300 SL was dubbed as “a race car for the streets.”
Being built like a race car, the Mercedes Benz 300 SL also saw race action of its own. The car scored overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans racing competition. Despite its lack of engine power, the car made up for it with its aerodynamic body and its drag reduction allowing it to compete in such races.
As the car features unique gull wing doors and is the first ever to sport an engine of its kind, it is considered as one of the most valued Mercedes Benz automobiles ever. In fact, Sports Car International ranks it as the top 5 sports car of all time. Recently, two Mercedes Benz 300 SL cars were sold for over 1.3 million US dollars which proves it high value further.
A roadster model was also produced for the Mercedes Benz 300 SL. The roadster versions of the model had improved clutch and addressed some of the problems that car owners experienced in the gull wing. Despite the multiple problems that they experienced however, the Mercedes Benz 300 SL still remains as one of of the best classic cars of all time, and in my opinion most beautiful as well.
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