Each generation in this illustrious line of ancestors writes its own chapter in the uninterrupted success story.
The Mercedes-Benz Museum tells this unique history with the special exhibition “Fascination SL – A Dream
Car for 70 Years”: www.mercedes-benz.com/sl-special-exhibition. The exhibition can be seen in Collection
Room 5 until 9 October 2022 and includes ten SL sports cars from seven decades, from the oldest preserved
300 SL racing sports car (W 194) to the new Mercedes-AMG SL of the 232 model series.
Sportiness in the genes
On 12 March 1952, Mercedes-Benz presented the 300 SL (W 194), a pure motorsport car. With it, the brand
won four out of five races in the season: the sports car races in Bern (triple victory) and at the Nürburgring
(quadruple victory), the 24 Hours of Le Mans (double victory) and the III Carrera Panamericana in Mexico
(double victory). At the Mille Miglia, which was the first race at the time, it finished second and fourth. For the
1953 season, the W 194/11 racing sports car prototype was built. It was not used again due to preparations
for entry into Formula One, but it represented an important technical step on the way to the racing cars (W
196 R) and racing sports cars (W 196 S) in 1954 and 1955.
Calls for a production version of the successful racing car quickly became loud. Mercedes-Benz reacted and
presented the 300 SL Coupé (W 198), the legendary “Gullwing” sports car, as early as 1954. Only 1,400 units
of the coveted sports car, with the characteristic doors hinged on the roof due to the roll cage, were built.
Today, these classics achieve prices well beyond one million euros.
In 1954, at the same time as the “Gullwing”, the brand presented the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL, designed as an
elegant, open-top sports car. Alongside the 300 SL super sports car, the Roadster, which also looked very
sporty on the outside, was a vehicle offering comprehensive comfort even for long journeys at high cruising
In 1957, the 300 SL Roadster (W 198) followed the “Gullwing” Coupé. Like its predecessor, this car was
created on the initiative of Maximilian E. Hoffmann. In technical terms, the Roadster largely corresponds to
the Coupé. However, by modifying the side parts of the roll cage, the entry height could now be reduced to
such an extent that normal, front-hinged doors could be realised.
In 1963, the 230 SL (W 113) replaced both the 300 SL Roadster and the 190 SL. It impressed with
sportiness, comfort and safety and has since been a trailblazer for the SL tradition. The optional hardtop with
its high windows and the concave shaped roof supported by narrow pillars was reminiscent of Asian temple
buildings, which quickly earned the W 113 the nickname “Pagoda”.
The SL models in the R 107 model series made their debut in the spring of 1971. For the first time in the
history of the Mercedes-Benz SL, eight-cylinder engines were used in the 350 SL and 450 SL models. In
1974, the 280 SL followed with a six-cylinder engine, making three engines part of the range for the first time.
The model series exuded elegance and solidity. The crash performance of this open-top two-seater car was
way ahead of its time. The R 107 was built for 18 years – a record.
Seven decades of the SL – An equally comprehensive history of technology
At the Geneva Motor Show in 1989, Mercedes-Benz presented the next generation, the SL of the R 129
model series. The automatic roll bar, which pops out in just 0.3 seconds even with the hardtop closed, was a
hallmark of the industry. With this vehicle, the brand hit a bullseye: production capacity was soon fully
booked. Some customers accepted delivery periods of several years. The twelve-cylinder top-of-the-range
models, the 600 SL/SL 600 (290 kW/394 hp) and SL 73 AMG with a 7.3-litre V12 engine and 386 kW (525
hp), are legendary.
In 2001, the next SL generation with the internal code R 230 made its debut. Its most striking innovation was
the folding Vario roof made of steel: for the first time in the history of the Mercedes-Benz SL, it enabled both
an open car and a coupé in one. The design of the R 230 model series combined tradition and the future by
means of striking details. The AMG share grew significantly in this SL generation: almost a third of all R 230s
had AMG engines. The top of the range was the SL 65 AMG Black Series rated at 493 kW (670 hp).
In January 2012, to mark the SL?s 60th birthday, the R 231 model series was unveiled at the North American
International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. One focus of the new design was on reducing the weight of the
sports car via numerous measures. Available on request: MAGIC SKY CONTROL, the glass roof with
adjustable tint and transparency.
The new Mercedes-AMG SL (R 232) is the latest reissue of an icon. The sports car and performance brand
unveiled it in 2021. With a classic soft top and sporty character, it fits seamlessly into the brilliant history. At
the same time, the luxurious Roadster as a 2+2 seater is particularly suitable for everyday use and puts its
power down on the road with all-wheel drive for the first time. The comprehensive technology equipment
includes highlights such as the AMG ACTIVE RIDE CONTROL suspension with active roll stabilisation,
rear-axle steering, the optionally available AMG ceramic high-performance compound brake system or the
standard-fit DIGITAL LIGHT with projection function. Mercedes-AMG in Affalterbach has developed the SL
completely independently as a consistent Performance Luxury model. The market launch is kicked off with
two models featuring AMG V8 biturbo engines.
300 SL Register