It was iconic before it had even been built: as a racing car the 300 SL finished the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans with a one-two victory. It was immortalised for ever more later that same year, when it was also first to cross the finishing line at the murderous Carrera Paname ricana in Mexico. After that, everyone wanted it: from Pablo Picasso to Sophia Loren and Henri Nannen – hardly anyone could resist the production version of this super sports car with its novel gullwing doors. They were all filled with enthusiasm by what was undoubtedly the most spectacular way of getting into a car – if not exactly the most comfortable.
Hidden beneath the exciting surface was something equally out of the ordinary: the world’s first direct petrol injection for a four-stroke engine, for instance. It was thanks to this that its 3-litre six-cylinder in-line unit was capable of up to 158 kW and a top speed of 250 km/h. That much power and speed were nothing short of sensational for a passenger car officially licensed in accordance with German road traffic regulations.
In a short space of time the 300 SL became the dream car of the 1950s. A dream that cost 29,000 marks and came true for 1400 lucky people. A worthwhile investment – from a retrospective point of view, too: today the gullwing model’s value has increased many times over.