In early 1950, Mercedes began to resume their pre-war interest in racing. The young engineer Rudolph Uhlenhaut, racing director Alfred Neubauer and Wilhelm Fürst decided to take part in the Le Mans 24-Hour race. Work on what was to become the 300 SL started. The name “300” comes from the engine size, while “SL” refers to “Sehr Leicht” (“Super Light”); the car received the factory body code W 194 from Franz Roller, the body designer. Roller and his team designed an aluminum body, following the aerodynamic knowledge of the time. The 6-cylinder engine was inclined 50 degrees to avoid raising the hood, and offset a few inches to the right of the vehicle’s center line, which unbalanced the vehicle. Due to the chassis members being close to the door sections, the doors had to open upwards like wings, which gave birth to the famous “Flügeltüren” (“Gullwing”) name. On March 12, 1952, the first 300 SL was tested on the road, witnessed by the press. Thanks to its racing performance and style, between 500 and 1,000 units were exported to America in road going form – thus the street version of the 300 SL was created. Designed by Friedrich Geiger, the 300 SL and the smaller 190 SL were introduced to the public, to thunderous applause, at the New York International Motor Sports Show on February 6, 1954. In August that year, production of the Gullwing began at Sindelfingen. Featuring a steel body, with aluminum hood, doors and trunk, in a standard silver color with optional black, red and blue, the 300 SL’s upwards-opening doors proved inconvenient in urban use. In 1957, production was suspended and the roadster, with modified tubular space frame and normally-opening doors, was introduced.

867 cars were manufactured in 1955, with a total of  1,400 from 1954 to 1957. The car sold for 29,000 DM in Germany, 7,500-9000 Dollars in the United States. This legendary Gullwing 300 SL Coupe is one of the greatest classic car in this Museum: it was purchased at an auction in Florida.


  • Make Mercedes-Benz
  • Model 300 SL
  • Model / Body Number W 198 I
  • Body Style Sport Coupe (Gullwing)
  • Year 1955
  • Origin Germany
  • Production Total 867 (Total 1,400)
  • Passenger Capacity 2


  • Engine Daimler-Benz M 198, 6 cyl, In-Line, SOHC, Gasoline, 182.8 cu. inch, 240 bhp, 6100 rpm, injection
  • Bore x Stroke 3.34 x 3.46 inch
  • Transmission Manual, 4-speed, syncro, floor shift
  • Top Speed 131 mph
  • Acceleration 0-60 mph, 7 s
  • Body / Frame Steel (+Aluminum) / Steel, space frame, tubular
  • Suspension Front  Double wishbone, coil springs, shock absorbers
  • Rear Swing axle, coil springs, shock absorbers
  • Electrical System 12 Volt, 56 Ampere
  • Brakes Hydraulic, servo, 4-wheels alloy drum
  • Wheelbase 94.5 inch
  • Overall Length 177.9 inch
  • Overall Width  70.4 inch
  • Overall Height 51.2 inch
  • Shipping Weight  2888 lbs
  • Front / Rear Tread 54.5 inch / 56.5 inch
  • Tires 6.50 x 15 Supersport