60 years of the Mercedes SL
We line up the new Mercedes SL with its forebears in an exclusive showdown
Few manufacturers can trace their sports car roots back to the fifties, and even fewer will hand you the keys to a pristine heritage fleet of such models. Luckily, Mercedes is in the mood for celebrating.
Sixty years ago it realised racing could draw positive attention to the company after WWII. So in 1952, the 300 SL racer was built from parts lying on the factory floor, and it was an instant winner.
Two years later, the 300 SL spawned two road cars – the 300 SL Gullwing and 190 SL roadster – and the SL family was born.
Technology has come a long way in 60 years, but the SL offers the same recipe of style, luxury, comfort and performance as it always has. Click the links to the left to see what we made of its classic predecessors from behind the wheel.
In this review
- 1Introduction - currently readingWe line up the new Mercedes SL with its forebears in an exclusive showdown
- 21955 300 SL GullwingFor any car fan, it’s a privilege to lift the surprisingly light gullwing door, climb over the wide sill and drop into the 300 SL’s low-slung seat.
- 31956 190 SLThe 190 SL was built to be a 300 SL for the masses, and is far less satisfying from behind the wheel.
- 41969 280 SL Pagoda
- 51980 450 SLThe third-generation SL first went on sale in 1971, and it stayed in showrooms for 18 years – so if you're in the market for a cheap classic SL, this is the one to go for
- 62001 SL 500
- 72005 SL 55 AMG
- 82012 SL 500