No collector car experience matches the prestige of driving the iconic Mercedes 300 SL. This vehicle has been a hit for generations, and for a good reason: it’s a true masterpiece that shines even among the most popular classic cars. The gullwing version, in particular, receives a lot of praise for its distinctive design and impressive performance. Keep reading to learn what sets this beauty apart — and why it remains one of the most coveted collector cars to this day.
The Iconic Gullwing Doors
Nothing sets the Mercedes 300 SL apart quite like its trademark gullwing doors. Hinged at the roof, these doors ensure that entering and exiting the car is a memorable experience. Interestingly, however, the gullwing doors were originally something of an afterthought. The 300 SL’s race-inspired tubular body left little room for conventional doors, so the designers had to get creative. Their solution? Bringing the doors to the roofline in a gullwing style eventually became the coupe’s most memorable feature.
Technically, there were other appearances of the gullwing design. Before the 300 SL, the 1945 Jamin-Bouffort JB made its mark not only with gullwing doors but also by its simple status as a three-wheeler.
There were also initial plans to add these doors to the Bugatti Type 64, but that never actually came to fruition — the car is now referred to as “incomplete perfection.”
After these brief flirtations with the gullwing design, Mercedes brought the concept to the masses with the 300 SL. Several other models tried to make their own version of the gullwing, but none quite captured the public fascination the way the Mercedes version did. Even now, there’s something special about bringing these doors to their full height, giving them the distinct winglike appearance for which they’re named.
Yes, the gullwing doors are impressive, but that’s certainly not the only reason why the 1957 Mercedes 300 SL stands the test of time. The coupe is also a delight to drive, providing plenty of substance to accompany its trademark style.
Ahead of its time, the Mercedes 300 SL was a true performance marvel when it was first released. This largely stems from its origins: the car was not initially intended as a mass-produced vehicle. Rather, it provided a slightly toned-down take on the Grand Prix concept for performance-minded drivers.
Thanks to an ultra-lightweight frame that’s only about 180 pounds, the coupe version of the 300 SL can reach a top speed of close to 160 MPH. For a time, it was the world’s fastest production car. With a standard 215 horsepower straight-six engine, there’s no power shortage under the hood. If you like the idea of owning a stand-out collector car but don’t want to miss out on performance or convenience, the 300 SL coupe is the way to go.
A Delightful Interior
Although it’s a bit too small to provide a truly comfortable ride for tall drivers, the seating for the 300 SL coupe is more spacious than you might expect. After the novelty of the gullwing doors has passed, getting in can feel like a bit of a chore — although a uniquely designed steering wheel helps compensate. The sculpted interior is as breathtaking as the outside of the car, with aluminum trim giving the dashboard a visual boost. The comfortable seats provide plenty of support. Both the fabric and leather options are the height of classic car style.
Coupe or Roadster?
The 1957 edition of the Mercedes 300 SL is unique in that it’s available in two formats: a coupe or a roadster. As sales on the original version began to fall in 1956, a genius idea was hatched: transform the car into a stylish roadster. This model lacked the gullwing doors that set the coupe apart, but there was still plenty to love. If you’re mainly drawn to the 300 SL because of its ground-breaking style, however, the coupe is definitely the way to go.
Protect Your Treasured Collector Car
Whether you’re obsessed with the 1957 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing or have your eyes on another iconic vehicle, you’ll want to do whatever it takes to keep your ride in top condition. Reach out today to learn how you can get high-level protection for your collector car.