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Mercedes 300 SL and SLS AMG: the AMG gullwing and its ancestor

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Mercedes 300 SL and SLS AMG
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Monsieur Acat is to blame. On March 14, 1952, the sports commissioner of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest informed Daimler-Benz how the doors were to be modified so that they would receive his blessing for the Le Mans race. So he gave the M ercedes 300 SL its most extravagant attraction, the large gullwing doors, and made the dreams of automobile fans fly - to this day. When the 300 SL debuted as a street sports car in New York in February 1954, you have to imagine the sensation as if you had slammed an iPhone next to a crocheted rotary phone in the mid-1980s.

The The Mercedes 300 SL can be called an automotive miracle

What was built at the time in Untertürkheim in poorly rebuilt development and production facilities can confidently be called an automotive wonder. Even before Germany squeezed into Goggomobil and Isetta, the Meredes 300 SL (Sport Leicht) with its 215 hp roared over the empty highways at more than 220 km /h. Theoretically, even 267 km /h were possible with the longest rear axle ratio. Nobody should have tried it. What an affront to the bourgeois modesty of the 1950s. A time when, on the one hand, it was a matter of course on the cover picture of 'das auto motor und sport ' that an enthusiastic little bare-bones posed in front of the Mercedes 300 SL's radiator. But the Germans would have exploded at the sight of a woman's breast the homemade sausage can in their hands.

Mercedes 300 SL vs Mercedes SLS AMG: fuel injection - the first in series production in a four-stroke engine

56 years later it is there, the Meredes 300 SL in perfect condition and flashing bordeaux red as if it had just rolled off the production line with one last glove. Back then, a damn good star must have shone over Swabia to design this masterpiece of sporty elegance. The doors swing up casually, and for a brief moment the Loren and Gabor flashes as they slide into their car with that typical knee-jammed ladies swing. When the engine starts with a twist of the 'letterbox' key, the cylinders under the bonnet seem to whisper provocatively: 'Well, SLS, no direct injection?'

The saying sits. The idling of the Mercedes dozing next door SLS AMG gets louder. Should the dynamic youngster, introduced with a lot of fanfare, have the automotive pensioner explain what modern automotive technology is? Yes, an inclined in-line six-cylinder with a three-liter displacement and direct fuel injection - the first in series in a four-stroke. M 198 is his name. The old guy adds: 'Already had racing successes? How about the Nordschleife, Mille Miglia and Le Mans? I won them one after the other.'

The SLS AMG is not a simple retro imitation

The 6.2 liter intake manifold V8 of the Mercedes SLS AMG roars angrily, as if defending itself against this comparison. The outgoing AMG boss Volker Mornhinweg had clearly stated that the SLS was not a simple retro imitation. Which doesn’t change the fact that he moves in the giant wing shadow of the old master. It has to be measured against the legend, the sports car of the century (chosen by a jury in 1999). 'What about lightweight construction?' The old man keeps tweaking. Twelve centimeters shorter, 15 narrower, with a tubular space frame, manually switched and with the security technology of a double-knitted bobble hat, it is easy to flaunt a delicate 1,295 kilograms. The Mercedes SLS AMG weighs a third Smart Fortwo more. 'And what about all-round visibility?'

The Mercedes 300 SL does not forgive high spirits

Engaging first gear focuses the nagging post-war beau on driving. And while the six-cylinder rotates smoothly out of the 2,000s, leaves the 4,000s behind with pleasant vibrations, zooms in on the next bend surprisingly quickly, the words of the Mercedes technician hit the driver like the vulture on the Mercedes 300 SL from Karl Kling the Carrera Panamericana: four drum brakes and a swing axle. Even owners of small cars can hardly imagine what that means. Where you would upshift today, your foot on the SL has to smooch the brake. When entering the bend, the deceleration should be completed as much as possible, the speed reduced massively and the lean truck steering wheel in a firm grip, otherwise what auto motor und sport was still very nice with 'The Mercedes 300 SL can then suddenly break out and does not forgive arrogance 'described.

Disc brakes for the Mercedes 300 SL were only available from 1961

As if some high spirits were the order of the day with a 650,000 euro icon (1955: 29,000 D-Mark), which was already the case with normal ones Speed ​​with the rear axle around the bottom swings like a petticoat in rock'n'roll. Hats off to the heroes who moved this luxury vehicle at racing speed. It was not until the Roadster from 1957 that a better single-joint swing axle was given, and from 1961disc brakes at least in front. But the 6,000-meter peaks have not yet been climbed. They sound evil, hard, intoxicating, auto motor und sport promised as early as 1955. Nothing has changed. The ingenious Untertürkheim six-pack roars and cuts your eardrum into pieces at up to 6,600 rpm. Trollinger below, Remstäler pear brandy above - this is how the 300 SL works.

The Mercedes SLS AMG still has to prove itself

Dazed by the grandiose appearance, the author swings into the 2010 Mercedes SLS.
Feel the headrests, the lateral support, the grandiose Bang & Olufsen sound system. The steering wheel suddenly shrinks, and ergonomically correct labeled buttons pop up all around the driver. But the inimitable flair of the original, that fat click of the all-metal switches and the shine of the dashboard painted in the vehicle color, have disappeared and with them the still noticeable 'now-especially' mentality of the engineers of the time. The Mercedes SLS AMG fires up the mountains, penetrates transversely in acceleration dimensions that the old man can hardly manage lengthways. Stops like an animal, has a stomach-pounding thump and gives impressive testimony to what has happened in half a century of automobile construction. It still has to prove itself - the Mercedes 300 SL has not needed that for a long time.

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