The Mercedes-Benz 300SL is one of the most elegant automobiles ever created, its long swooping bonnet line and almost obscene curves have ensured it a solid position on any well though out “Top 10” list of classic cars ever created. The Roadster version is, if I can say this without being tarred and feathered, even better looking than the coupé – in the same way the the E-Type coupé isn’t quite as pretty as its roofless sibling.
The name of the 300SL Roadtser is gloriously, Germanicly logical – the “300” references the 3.0 litre capacity, the “SL” stands for “Sport Leicht” and the “Roadster” means that it’s a roadster.
Although usually presented in silver or red, this 300SL Roadster from 1958 is finished in a bright blue that works exceptionally well with the red leather interior. It’s fitted with the race-derived 2996cc SOHC inline 6-cylinder engine capable of 222hp, this powerplant coupled to the car’s relatively light kerb weight of 1,093kgs means that it has a top speed of over 160mph, making it by far and away the fastest production car the world had ever seen when it was released.
The most famous fault of the 300SL line was the mechanical direct fuel injection utilising a Bosch injection pump, this was the first time that fuel injection was used on a production car, but due to it’s mechanical nature the injector would keep pumping fuel into the cylinder after the ignition had been switched off, while the engine was cycling to a stop. This lead to fuel contaminating the oil and resulted in Mercedes-Benz recommending an oil change interval of just 1000 miles.
Despite the fact that the Mercedes-Benz 300SL is one of the most famous German cars ever made, it actually owes its existence to a man named Max Hoffman. Hoffman was the largest importer of European cars into the USA and often made recommendations to European marques about what cars they should be building for the Americans, advice they often took with great success.
Max had seen the success of the race-only Mercedes-Benz 300SL (W194), he insisted that a road legal version with some trappings of luxury would sell well in the United States during the economic boom time of the 1950s. The final sales figures of 1,400+ units made the 300SL the most popular car Mercedes-Benz had up until that point and is widely credited with changing the American perception of the German company.
The 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster you see here is due to roll across the auction block on the 16th of January 2014, if you’d like to bid on it you’ll need somewhere in the region of $1,000,000+ USD and a good paddle arm.
Visit RM Auctions here.