Mercedes-Benz 300 SL — The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL coupe (1953; Germany) had “gullwing” doors that opened upward and a 6-cylinder, 175-hp engine with fuel injection
The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is a series of luxury automobiles. SL, meaning “Sport Light”, or in German, Sport Leicht, first appeared on the 1954 300SL ’Gullwing’ so named because of its upward-opening passenger doors. The Mercedes-Benz 300SL is a two-seat, closed sports car with characteristic gull-wing doors, and later, offered as an open roadster. It was also given the name “Widowmaker” because many male drivers died when crashing their 300SLs. Built by Daimler-Benz AG and internally numbered W198, the road version of 1952 was based (somewhat loosely) on the company’s highly successful competition-only sports car of 1950, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL (W194) which had less power, as it still had carburetors.
This model was suggested by Max Hoffman. Because it was intended for customers whose preferences were reported to Hoffman by dealers he supplied in the booming, post-war American market, it was introduced at the 1954 New York Auto Show-unlike previous models introduced at either the Frankfurt or Geneva shows. The 300SL was best known for both its distinctive gullwing or butterfly wing doors and for being the first-ever gasoline-powered car equipped with fuel injection directly into the combustion chamber. The gullwing version was available from March 1955 to 1957. In Mercedes-Benz fashion, the “300” referred to the engine’s cylinder displacement, in this case, three liters. The “SL”, as applied to a roadster, stood for “Sport Leicht” or “Sport Light.“
More widely produced (25,881 units) and starting in 1954 was the similar looking 190SL with a 105hp 4cyl engine, available only as roadster (or with an additional hardtop, as Coupe Roadster). The 190SL was equivalent to today’s SLK in its market positioning when compared to the SL. Production for both the 190SL and 300SL ended in 1963 when the 230SL was introduced.