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Mercedes 300 SL (1954 – 1957)

Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing 1954

Mercedes 300 SL (1954 – 1957)

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“The legendary Gull-wing”

The Mercedes 300 SL was launched at the prestigious New York Auto Show in 1954. This was untypical at the time, as the usual launch site for new models was either Frankfurt or Geneva. But, the car was an immediate success and seen as an iconic motorcar, particularly in the States. One of its key features was the glamorous  from the era of glamour with those gull-wing doors.

The 300 SL was so called as underneath that low bonnet was a 3.0 litre 215 bhp straight six, the first of the sports light models was also the first direct injection engine featuring an innovative diagonal aluminium head that allowed for larger intake and exhaust valves, it was hailed as the world’s fastest car. This race car for the streets used aerodynamics skilfully to help with its speed, Mercedes placed horizontal eye-brows over the wheel openings to reduce drag, yes they look cool but they weren’t there for show.

The gull-wing doors aren’t for show either, the fact is due to the space frame structure giving strength will remaining light weight there was simply no room for conventional doors hence the horizontal feature doors. Sills were high which presented difficulties getting in and out the two seater coupe and so Mercedes designed a steering wheel with a tilt-away column to improve driver access.

The Mercedes 300 SL changed the reputation on the German car makers from a manufacturer of solid luxury automobiles to one capable of producing high-performance sports cars as well.

Specification Mercedes 300 SL (1954 – 1957)

Years Produced1954 - 1957
Performance0 - 60mph 8.8sec / Top Speed - 135mph
Power & Torque 215bhp / 203Ib ft
Engine2996cc / straight six/ 12V
Drive-train Front engine RWD
TransmissionFour speed manual
Weight1293kg

Valuations since launch for the Mercedes 300 SL (1954 – 1957)

With only 1,400 Mercedes 300 SL coupes produced prices are high; let’s take a look at the market trends over the last five years.

 Launch201020112012201320142015
Concours£4,393£500,000£600,000£700,000£800,000£1,000,000£1,200,000
Excellent£400,000£450,000£500,000£650,000£750,000£900,000
Good£250,000£300,000£350,000£400,000£500,000£700,000
Fair£150,000£200,000£250,000£300,000£350,000£450,000

A Buyers Guide – Mercedes 300 SL (1954 – 1957)

Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing image

Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing, Copyright of Pedro Ribeiro Simões, Flickr

Corrosion on these cars is rarely a significant problem although the space frame chassis can suffer, the problem is it may need the body shell removing to get to any problem areas which adds to the cost of repair although if it’s been restored before it has probably already had the body off so any problem areas would have already been cured.

Exterior

Make sure you get underneath and see if the under tray is still there it helps with the cars aerodynamics although if it’s not they can be re-made. A lot of body panels are aluminium such as doors, bonnet, boot lid and sills although the rest of the structure is steel. There are few weak spots on the 300 SL although the front valance and rear wheel arches are most likely to give problems so check these areas closely.

Under the bonnet

The 300 has drum brakes which may need skimming, new inserts or in the worse case, replacement drums.

  • Rubber driveshaft gaiters and half shaft oil seals perish and repair cost can be high so check these areas.
  • Engines are smooth refined and durable providing they are well maintained.
  • Over fuelling can occur due to the injection pump diaphragm perishing.
  • Gear boxes are strong but there will be some whining.
  • Clutches wear fast although new three piece clutch kits are available.

It’s recommended that you buy a 300 SL with full service history showing everything the car has been through.

Insurance quotes for a Mercedes 300 SL (1954 – 1957)

With values of these cars being so high, each insurance quotation would have to be individually referred to our underwriters in order to obtain a specific rate. We have a wide range of High Net Worth (Prestige Insurance) products that cater for all types of high value vehicles.

Interesting fact

Mercedes-Benz official tuning arm, AMG, converted 11 genuine 300 SLs to modern 380bhp, six-litre V8 AMG specification, at a cost of more than €1 million each. The Brunei royal family took delivery of five of them, with the rest going to AMG special customers.

Mark Wilkinson (Managing Partner of Heritage Classic Car Insurance)

“Mercedes have the sort of reputation every other car maker longs for. As rivals of Rolls Royce and Bentley for extravagance and quality and rivals of Ferrari for performance, Mercedes-Benz has always been there.”

insuring a Mercedes 300 SL (1954 – 1957)