Docstoc

Presse-Information

Document Sample
Presse-Information Powered By Docstoc
					Contact:                                    Telephone:                Press Information
Birgit Pillkahn                             +49 711 17-49049
                                                                      Date:
                                                                      January 2012
Mercedes-Benz Classic

The history of the Mercedes-Benz SL-
Class

Contents                                                       Page

The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class sports cars – an introduction 2

From racing car to SL-Class with vario-roof – a summary           4

Motor sport as initial fuse: the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing
car, W 194 series (1952-1953)                                14

The “Gullwing” enters the scene: the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
Coupé, W 198 I series (1954-1957)                        19

Appealing and comfortable: Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster,
W 121 series (1955-1963)                               23

A new openness: Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster,
W 198 II series (1957-1963)                                      30

The “Pagoda” drives up: Mercedes-Benz SL,
W 113 series (1963-1971)                                         33

18 years production time: the Mercedes-Benz SL,
R 107 series (1971-1989)                                         40

The technology platform: Mercedes-Benz SL,
R 129 series (1989-2001)                                         52



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
Open the way for the vario-roof: Mercedes-Benz SL,
R 230 series (2001-2012)                             69




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class sports cars –                           Page 3
introduction

• The tradition of these extraordinary sports cars begins
  in 1952
• The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has its roots in racing
  history
• Every SL generation is an innovation platform for the
  Mercedes-Benz brand

Stuttgart – In the 1950s, a very special star rose in Stuttgart:
the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class was born. It all began with
motor racing sports. With its successes in international
competitions, in 1952 the 300 SL competition sports car
(W 194 series, “SL” stands for “Super-Light”), became the
initial spark for the start of two fascinating production sports
cars – the “Gullwing” coupé and the roadster: the Mercedes-
Benz 300 SL and 190 SL laid the foundation for the tradition of
this legendary sports car family in the year 1954.

Mercedes-Benz caused a sensation with the presentation of
these two vehicles at the 1954 International Motor Sports
Show in New York. Specialists and the general public alike
were enthusiastic. The 300 SL was presented for the first time
as a series-production sports car (W 198 series), the famous
“Gullwing” coupé. The totally newly-designed 190 SL (W 121
series) presented by the company as a roadster, created just
as powerful an impact. This first-generation SL sports cars
already allowed one to envisage the brilliant future that lay
ahead of these attractive and innovative production vehicles
with motor sport abbreviations in their designation.

Based on the legendary Gullwing coupé, the open 300 SL
Roadster (W 198 II), which was built in parallel with the
190 SL, was launched in 1957. The body form of the two-
seater open car was thus defined as the typical characteristic

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
of the SL family. The 300 SL and the 190 SL together                 Page 4
prefigured numerous features of later SL generations and both
were thus the forerunners of all the SL series that followed.

In 1963 the SL, W 113 series arrived on the scene; it was
dubbed the “Pagoda SL” because of the characteristic shape
of its hardtop roof. It was followed in 1971 by the R 107 series
that achieved the highest production volume of all SL series to
date because of its long production life of 18 years. In March
1989 Mercedes-Benz introduced the R 129 series. Featuring
numerous technical innovations, this car carried the SL-Class
over into the new millennium. After a production period of
twelve years and two facelifts it was replaced in 2001 by the
R 230 series – the first one with a steel folding top. Finally, in
the spring of 2012 the R 231 series is due to be launched as
the next generation of the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class.




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
From racing car to SL-Class with vario-roof –                      Page 5
a summary

• Motor sport as initial fuse
• Numerous fascinating models from 1952 until today

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing car, W 194 series (1952 to
1953)

The roots of the SL-Class lay in motor sports: after
World War II Mercedes-Benz developed the W 194 series
300 SL racing car, whose M 194 engine was derived from the
300 model; engineers increased its output to around 170 bhp
(125 kW) for use in the racing sports car. The sports engine
was installed at an angle of 50 degrees slanted over towards
the left.

For the W 194, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, at that time Head of
Passenger Car Research at Daimler-Benz, developed a frame
weighing only 50 kilograms and made from very thin tubing
that was subjected to compressive and tensile forces only.
This frame became the backbone of the racing car with which
the pilots of the racing department reaped numerous victories
in 1952.

The body of this first SL already prefigured features of the
later production sports car. Among these, the wide, low racing
car front end of the pre-war era, with a Mercedes star affixed
to the radiator grille. Characteristic for the coupé: the famous
swing-wing doors, deeply incut into the roof. To open, they
swung upwards, reminding one of outspread wings, for this
the Americans dubbed it the “Gull-wing”, while the French
called it the “Papillon” (butterfly). Together with the coupés,
several roadsters were also made.




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
With the 300 SL, Mercedes-Benz won second and fourth                Page 6
places at the Mille Miglia race, achieved a three-fold victory at
the sports car race in Bern and a double win at the 24 hours of
Le Mans, as well as four victories at the Nürburgring sports
car race in 1952. The last great adventure of the season was
its participation in the 3rd Carrera Panamericana in Mexico,
with a gruelling route covering 3100 km in five days and eight
stages. Mercedes-Benz entered two coupés and two
roadsters in the contest; these were powered by engines with
an output that had in the meantime been increased to 180 bhp
(132 kW). Karl Kling and Hans Klenk’s car, as well as
Hermann Lang and Erwin Grupp’s car, attained a legendary
double victory for Mercedes-Benz in November 1952.

Already for the following year a successor model was
developed, the W 194/11; however, it did not get to participate
in the 1953 racing season because from 1954 Mercedes-Benz
began to take part in Formula 1 racing, so that from the
300 SL the W 198 I series sports car was developed

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé, W 198 I series (1954 to
1957)

It was to be the perfect suprise: on 6 February 1954,
Mercedes-Benz presented the 300 SL series sports car at the
International Motor Sports Show in New York. The coupé with
the characteristic swing-wing doors of the racing car
fascinated experts and general public alike. Not only its form
was reminiscent of motor sports, technical details, too, such
as the tubular space frame, came directly from the competition
cars. This made the 300 SL, W 198 I series, unique among
the sports cars of its day.

The production SL was powered by an M 198 engine with
petrol direct injection, developed by Mercedes-Benz for the
W 194/11 racing car prototype of 1953. In the 300 SL, the 6-

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
cylinder in-line engine had a nominal output of 215 bhp             Page 7
(158 kW), which enabled the car to reach a top speed of
247.5 km/h, as stated in 1954 after an official test drive. For a
comfortable street sports car of those days an excellent value
indeed. That predestined the 300 SL for use in racing
competitions and rallies, where factory drivers and private
pilots were able to win numerous victories and excellent
placings with it.

Maximilian E. Hoffman, the official importer of the Mercedes-
Benz brand in the US, campaigned tirelessly for the series
production of the sports car. At the same time he urged the
production of a smaller SL roadster, which was later to be the
SL Roadster, 190 series.

The 300 SL rapidly became an automotive icon of the 1950s,
while it was victorious on many racetracks at the same time.
And its charisma remains unbroken to this very day: in 1999
the Gullwing coupé was voted “Sports car of the century” in an
international election.

Mercedes-Benz 190 SL, W 121 series (1955 to 1963)

Daimler-Benz AG introduced the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL
together with the 300 SL in February 1954 at the International
Motor Sport Show in New York. It was designed as a sports
car “which owing to its high comfort is intended for a class of
customers who want to travel large distances themselves at
high cruising speeds in this externally very sporty looking car,”
as design engineer Josef Müller wrote in retrospect in 1957.
Simultaneously the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” debuted
in New York. As an exciting super sports car it too lent the SL
series its character.

The body design of the 190 SL closely followed that of the
Gullwing, but it was constructed as a two-seater cabriolet and

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
had a retractable soft top. A nice option to be had was the third-   Page 8
passenger transversal seat. There were three versions: a car
with a fabric top and a coupé with removable hardtop,
optionally with or without a fabric top. The 190 SL was given
the internal series designation W 121, like the 190 Saloon that
appeared a little later in 1956. The 190 SL is technically
related to the “Ponton” (pontoon) saloons – commonly called
that because of their characteristic body shape – of the
W 120/121 series. The suspension, for example, from model
190 (W 121) onwards featured the familiar low-pivot single-
joint swing axle and the front wheel suspension including
subframe. The floor assembly – albeit shortened – was also
taken from the saloon.

The 1.9-litre petrol engine, on the other hand, was an entirely
new development. This four-cylinder unit had an overhead
camshaft and is regarded as the forefather of an entire family
of engines. In the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL it delivered 105 bhp
(77 kW) and accelerated the fabric-topped variant from 0 to
100 km/h in 14.5 seconds on its way to its top speed of
170 km/h. During its production life the 190 SL underwent
many improvements in details. The last unit was built in 1963
at the Sindelfingen plant, ending a production run totalling
25,881 vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, W 198 II series (1957 to
1963)

In 1957, the Gullwing coupé was superseded by the 300 SL
Roadster. Like its predecessor, this vehicle, too, was created
upon the initiative of Maximilian E. Hoffman. Technically, the
roadster was basically the same as the coupé, but through
modification of the side sectors of the tubular space frame, it
was made possible to reduce the entry height enough to allow
the fitting of conventional doors.



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
A fundamental improvement: the rear-axle suspension. The          Page 9
single-joint low-pivot swing axle – familiar from the 220 W was
installed in the 300 SL Roadster in an adapted form, being
equipped for the first time with a compensating spring. This
greatly improved the handling characteristics over those of the
original swing axle of the Gullwing coupé. From 1958
onwards, an optional removable coupé roof with a generous
wrap-around rear window was available.

At this time there was a special version of the 300 SL
Roadster: the 300 SLS, only two units of which were ever built
especially for participation in the North American Sports Car
Championship. At the wheel of this car, Paul O’Shea won the
1957 North American Sports Car Championship in the D
category far ahead of competitors.

Production of the 300 SL ended together with the end of
production of the 190 SL in Sindelfingen on 8 February 1963.
Both versions of the 300 SL, the roadster and the Gullwing
coupé were enthusiasts’ cars from the very start and are today
among the most sought-after and most valuable classic cars.

Mercedes-Benz W 113 series (1963 to 1971)

At the 1963 Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz presented
the new 230 SL – internal series designation W 113. It was
designed as a comfortable high-performance two-seater
touring car and replaced the 190 SL and 300 SL models.
Three versions were available: an open-top car with a folding
soft top, an open-top version with hardtop, and finally the
hardtop coupé. The hardtop coupé had no soft top and soft-
top compartment; this freed up more room for luggage. All
three versions could be driven with the top open. As an
optional extra a transverse rear seat was available.

The exterior of the 230 SL was characterised by clear, straight

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
lines and the unmistakable SL face including the large,             Page 10
centrally positioned Mercedes three-pointed star. The hardtop
with high windows and a roof borne up only by slim pillars
conveyed an impression of lightness; with its inwardly directed
curvature it reminded one of Far Eastern temples, and
straightaway the car had a nickname: “Pagoda”.

Since it was based on the floor unit of the famed “Tailfin”, the
world’s first saloon with a safety body, this SL also had a rigid
passenger cell and crumple zones in the form of easily-
deformable front and rear segments. As in the saloon the
interior was designed so as to reduce injury hazards in
accidents, meaning that there were no hard corners and
edges. As in the previous model, seat belts were available as
optional extras. The steering gear was moved from the crash-
imperilled front section to the firewall; the steering column
yielded to axial compression and additionally featured a joint
that prevented the feared lance effect in an accident. In 1967,
the telescoping safety steering column and the impact
absorber in the steering wheel were added.

The chassis, adopted from the 220 SE Saloon, was tuned to
the requirements of the sporty car. The suspension was taut,
but for a sports car was almost atypically comfortable. The six-
cylinder engine also came from the saloon, but was modified
for use in the SL. The engine, its bore enlarged to give it a
displacement of 2.3 litres, developed 150 bhp (110 kW) and
was designed as a sporty drive unit.

The successor to the 230 SL came in 1967: the Mercedes-
Benz 250 SL. The changes mainly concerned the engine and
the braking system. The engine, its displacement enlarged by
200 cubic centimetres, had the same output, 150 bhp
(110 kW), but ten per cent more torque. The 250 SL was thus
appreciably more flexible in its response. In addition to the
three body versions known from the 230 SL, the 250 SL was

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
available as an optional extra in a fourth version, a coupé with    Page 11
rear bench seat, shown for the first time in March 1967 at the
Geneva Motor Show. Less than a year after the presentation
of the 250 SL, it was replaced by the 280 SL with a 2.8-litre
engine and an output of 170 bhp (125 kW). From 1963 to
1971 a total of 48,912 “Pagodas” were built – remarkable for a
sports car with such high standards.

Mercedes-Benz R 107 series (1971 to 1989)

The R 107-series SL rolled out on the highway in spring 1971,
first as 350 SL (147 kW/200 bhp), from autumn 1971 onwards
and at first only for the US, as series 350 SL 4.5, and then
with the Geneva Motor Show from 1973 onwards for all
markets as series 450 SL (165 kW/225 bhp). For the first time
in the history of the SL series an eight-cylinder power plant did
duty under the bonnet. Parallel to it the corresponding coupé
models of the SLC series (C 107 series) were built until
autumn 1981.

Besides elegance and quality the vehicles radiated safety: the
crash response of the open two-seater was far ahead of its
time. Technically, this expressed itself in a carefully-defined
crumple behaviour of coachwork and vehicle skeleton
structure, a high-strength A-pillar, and interior appointments
uncompromisingly designed according to safety criteria.

In the course of its production “lifetime” of unplanned length
(18 years) and immense success, this SL was equipped with
diverse six- and eight-cylinder engines. Its model designations
were accordingly just as varied. In July 1974 came the 280 SL
(136 kW/185 bhp), with the result that there were now three
SL engines available to choose from – nowadays nothing
unusual, but in those days something a real novelty in the
history of this model category. In the course of time all engines
underwent modifications (and slightly modified performance

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
figures) to enable better compliance with the emission             Page 12
standards, which had meanwhile started to become more
stringent in most European countries.

Production of the R 107 series ended in August 1989, more
than 18 years after the production start-up of the 350 SL. With
that this SL series set an internal record that will probably
never be broken: with the exception of the G-Class off-road
vehicles, no other passenger car series has ever been
produced over such a long period in the entire history of the
company. All told, in Sindelfingen 237,287 open-top cars were
built, a number which impressively demonstrates the great
popularity of the 107 series. Of the coupé a total of 62,888
were built from 1971 to 1981.

Mercedes-Benz R 129 series (1989 to 2001)

At the 1989 Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz presented
the SL, R 129 series. The first models were the 300 SL
(140 kW/190 bhp), 300 SL-24 (170 kW/231 bhp) and 500 SL
(240 kW/326 bhp). The stylistically assured, no-frills lines of
the slightly wedge-shaped body, the flared wheel arches, the
half-spoilers forward of the front wheels, a steeply raked
windscreen, the skilfully modelled rear end and the standard
light-alloy wheels produced an exceedingly harmonious
overall effect. The brand scored a hit with the vehicle.
Production capacity was soon stretched to the limit and
delivery periods of several years had to be accepted.

This car set new standards in the area of safety. The results of
Mercedes-Benz’s rigorous frontal and rear-impact crash tests
for the open-top vehicle were sensational. Integral parts of the
safety concept were also the automatic roll-over bar, which
popped up, sensor-controlled, within 0.3 seconds when a roll-
over threatened, and the integral seats, whose resistance in a
crash was many times higher than the magnitude of the forces

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
that could be expected. The suspension was adapted to the          Page 13
requirements of a touring sports car and enabled precise
handling and fast driving combined with high comfort. In
autumn 1992, a further model appeared, the 600 SL with a
twelve-cylinder engine and an output of 290 kW (394 bhp).

A first facelift in autumn 1995 brought a slightly modified body
design, more extensive standard equipment, and more refined
engineering. A second facelift in 1998 employed discreet
stylistic touch-ups to give the sports car an even more
dynamic look, but mainly meant a change in the engine range,
with new six-cylinder V-engines in place of the previous in-line
engines, and a new V8 power plant

In summer 2001, production of the R 129 series came to an
end after twelve years and a total of 204,940 units. In terms of
overall volume it was not quite as successful as its
predecessor from the R 107 series (237,287 units); but if
average annual production is compared, the R 129 series with
some 16,500 units takes a very clear lead.

Mercedes-Benz R 230 series (2001 to 2012)

The most conspicuous innovation in the subsequent SL
generation with the internal designation R 230 was the vario-
roof: for the first time in the history of the SL it was made
possible to have an open-top car and a coupé in one – the
transformation took place within 16 seconds. The first model
presented to the public in summer 2001 was the SL 500
(225 kW/306 bhp); in the autumn it was joined by the
SL 55 AMG (350 kW/476 bhp). In 2002 the SL 350
(180 kW/245 bhp) followed, in 2003 the SL 600
(386 kW/500 bhp) and in 2004 the SL 65 AMG
(450 kW/612 bhp).

The design of the R 230 series blended tradition and future

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
through distinctive details. For instance, the air intakes in the   Page 14
front wings adopted a typical feature of the 300 SL from the
1950s. The thin, wing-like segments on these side air
intakes – called fins by experts – were a reminiscence, too.

Ever since the “Pagoda” at the latest, the abbreviation SL has
been synonymous with pioneering achievements in the areas
of active and passive safety in open-top sports cars. With an
entirely new, comprehensive concept the R 230-series SL
clearly outstripped all previous safety standards. The concept
included electronic handling dynamics systems such as
SBC™ Sensotronic Brake Control, ABC Active Body Control,
BAS Brake Assist, ASR acceleration skid control, and ESP®
and extended to the structural integrity of the body in every
conceivable type of accident. A number of other features
contributing to occupant protection were two-stage airbags for
driver and passenger, head/thorax bags in the doors, integral
seats, high-performance belt tensioners, belt force limiters,
and the sensor-controlled roll-over bar, which goes into action
even when the vario-roof is closed.

The first facelift came in 2006. It brought the SL 500 a 285 kW
(387 bhp) V8 engine and the SL 350 a 200 kW (272 bhp)
V6 engine – both new developments featuring four valves and
reduced fuel consumption coupled with a higher output; in the
SL 600 it was now 380 kW (517 bhp). The 7G-TRONIC
seven-speed automatic transmission was standard
equipment. The most conspicuous element of a further model
refinement package in 2008 was the new front design, which
adapted the SL to the brand’s current passenger car design.
In addition, the SL 280 (170 kW/231 bhp) was added to the
model range. In 2008, the exclusive SL 65 AMG Black Series
expanded the R 230 series in the top performance range. This
high-performance coupé was developed in the AMG
Performance Studio, and was powered by an engine
delivering 493 kW (670 bhp).

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
In 2008 and 2009, the SL 63 AMG Roadster went into action      Page 15
as Official F1™ Safety Car in Formula 1 racing. The SL,
modified for operation on the racetrack, brought to mind the
roots of the SL family in motor racing.

In the spring of 2012, Mercedes-Benz is to unveil the R 231
series, the new SL.




Motor sports as initial fuse: the Mercedes-
Benz 300 SL racing sports car, W 194 series
(1952-1953)

• The first racing car from Mercedes-Benz after the
  Second World War
• Combination of series-production technology and
  innovative lightweight build
• Racing as a coupé and as a roadster
• 1953 racing sports car prototype shows elements of
  the production sports car



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was the designation of the                  Page 16
competition race car from Mercedes-Benz with which the
brand returned to international motor sports in 1952 for the
first time after the Second World War. And although this car
was not sold to the public, it did light the fuse for the
development of the later SL-Class from Mercedes-Benz. The
development of the 300 SL began in 1950, when Mercedes-
Benz began to think about a return to racing. The attempt to
reactivate the 1939 W 154 Grand Prix race car, however, met
with failure in Argentina in 1951. So engineers pressed
forward the development of the new racing car, some of the
components of which came from the Mercedes-Benz 300.

In June 1951, the Board decided to resume participation in
racing events from 1952 on, and gave the final orders for the
construction of the 300 SL. The abbreviation was explained as
“Super-Light”. Its M 194 engine was derived from the 300 type
unit, the M 186, with an inclined separation plane between
cylinder-head and engine block, overhead camshaft, large
inlet valves, combustion chamber in engine block and pistons,
a displacement of 3 litres and an output of 115 bhp (85 kW).
For its use in the racing car the engineers increased the
engine’s output to around 170 bhp (125 kW). The sports
engine differed from the one installed in the saloon and coupé
not only in its output, but also in its installation position,
slanted 50 degrees to the left, and in having a dry-sump
lubrication system, which due to the omission of the oil sump,
enabled a lower installation height.

Weight savings were hardly possible with the engine and the
transmission of the W 194 that was in the process of being
created. And this was also true of the heavy steel axles which
had also been taken from the 300 model. That left only the
frame and the exterior skin for any possible weight-savings.
Another possibility for enhancing competitiveness was to
create a body as aerodynamic as possible. Rudolf Uhlenhaut,

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
at that time Head of passenger car research at Daimler-Benz,        Page 17
took up his idea of a lightweight tubular frame again, an idea
he had entertained some years before. The designers then
carried the concept forward to its logical conclusion, creating a
lightweight, extremely torsionally rigid frame consisting of very
thin tubes joined together to form triangles, whose tubular
elements were only subjected to tensional and compressive
forces. The entire frame weighed just 50 kilograms and
became the backbone of the W 194, as well as the basis for
the production version of the 300 SL (W 198 I) and for the
successful 1954/55 racing and motor sports car.

The coachbuilders in Untertürkheim and Sindelfingen spared
no effort with the vehicle aluminium body. Thanks to the
canted position of the engine and the aerodynamic profile they
strove to create, the car was very low, free of trim right down
to the underbody, with an elegant low bonnet line, intuitively
round-shaped, with recessed headlamps and its wheels
entirely covered by the bodywork. The classic Mercedes-Benz
radiator shape was replaced by a flat racing car front end
analogous to that of pre-war cars. The Mercedes star
dominated the radiator grille prominently. The coupé
geenhouse was made as narrow as possible, with a strongly
raked windscreen, curving towards the A-pillars. The large
rear window flowed over into the aerodynamic rear end. The
result was a relatively small frontal area: 1.8 square metres. A
drag coefficient was measured on an 1-in-5 scale model and
found to be
cd = 0.25, and that, even without taking into account the
realistic airflow through the engine compartment.

The doors are a chapter all of their own: in order to lend a
space frame the desired high rigidity, it has to be as wide as
possible in the passenger cell sector. This requirement led to
the spectacular and later so famous gullwing doors. In the first
cars, the door opening began at the waistline. The doors,

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
deeply incut into the roof, opened upwards, creating an image       Page 18
reminiscent of outspread wings, for which reason the car was
dubbed “gullwing” by the North Americans and “papillon”
(butterfly) by the French. Driver and passenger boarded the
car from above.

In order to facilitate access over the high side sill, the
bodywork designers had even originally intended to have an
access step in the lower part of the vehicle body flank;
however, this feature was never realised. By the way, the FIA
regulations of the time did not specify the type and direction of
opening doors. In spite of this, the stewards got a bit hot under
the collar when the vehicle was presented to them for
scrutineering before the Mille Miglia in May 1952. To forestall
any future protests, after the race in Italy the doors were
extended down into the car’s sides, thereby assuming their
final shape.

The interior was fully padded and lined, radiating a level of
comfort unusual for racing cars. Speedometer and rev counter
were accomodated under a common hood, below that and in
somewhat smaller format were the gauges for water
temperature, fuel pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure.
Even a stopwatch was installed. The bucket-type seats with
high side sections were covered with tartan-style woolen
fabric; the four-spoke steering wheel was removable to
facilitate climbing in.

The archetype of the 300 SL, chassis number W 194 010
00001/52, completed its first test drives in November 1951, on
the Solitude racetrack just outside Stuttgart, on the
Nürburgring and on the Hockenheimring. On March 12, 1952,
the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing sports coupé, unusually
smooth and, at a height of just 1,225 millimeters, unusually
low, was presented to the excited and stunned press on the
motorway between Stuttgart and Heilbronn.

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
A total of ten W 194 series cars were built for the 1952              Page 19
season. After the Le Mans race, it was planned to enter the SL
in a sports car race on the Nürburgring. To shed as much
weight from the competing cars, the engineers cut the roofs off
three coupés without further ado. A fourth car had been set up
as a roadster right from the start. To permit easy access, the
section of the door extending into the side of the car was
retained, and a small windscreen was mounted to deflect air
and flying insects. This resulted in a weight advantage of 100
kilograms over the coupé.

The year 1952 was an extremely successful one for
Mercedes-Benz racing cars: second and fourth places in the
Mille Miglia; triple victory in the sports car race in Bern; double
victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; quadruple victory in the
sports car race on the Nürburgring. The last big adventure of
the season was participation in the third Carrera
Panamericana Mexico, a race over five days and eight stages,
3,100 kilometres through Mexico. Mercedes-Benz accepted
the challenge and entered two coupés and two roadsters in
this rally, all powered by engines with an output meanwhile
boosted to 180 bhp (132 kW). Karl Kling with Hans Klenk and
Hermann Lang with Erwin Grupp reaped a legendary double
victory for Mercedes-Benz in November 1952 in this contest.

The 300 SL was reengineered for the 1953 season. Its
bodywork was now made from magnesium sheet, even lighter
than aluminium. In the wind tunnel it gained – especially in its
front section – not only a new face, but also a better airflow
through the engine compartment thanks to an optimised
shape. The engine output rose, too, among other things
thanks to petrol direct injection, which boosted output of the
six-cylinder unit to 215 bhp (158 kW). The rear axle was
further developed to a low-pivot single-joint swing axle, while
the transmission was flanged on the rear axle following the
transaxle principle, which made for a more balanced weight

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
distribution. The wheelbase was shortened by 100 millimetres.       Page 20
The vehicle stood firmly on 16-inch wheels, and the use of
disc brakes was considered.

This further-developed 300 SL with the company-internal
designation W 194 (jocularly called “carpenter’s plane” on
account of its front end), did not actually get to race. However,
its bodywork with its angular radiator, compact dimensions
and ventilation fins as well as its engine, prefigured in 1953
the W 198 I series 300 SL production sports car that was
unveiled the following year.

Technical highlights of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 194)

300 SL racing sports car (1952):
• Lightweight tubular space frame
• Coupés designed with roof-hinged Gullwing doors
• Racing sports car prototype 300 SL, W 194/11 (1953)
• Six-cylinder in-line M 198 engine with petrol direct injection
• Vehicle body made from magnesium sheets

Production figures for MB 300 SL (W 194) Roadster,
Coupé, racing sports car prototype

Models                  Internal   Production period:   Number
                        designatio pre-production to    of units
                        n          end
300 SL
                        W 194             1952          10
300 SL racing
                        W 194/11          1953          1
sports
prototype




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
The “Gullwing” enters the scene: Mercedes-                          Page 21
Benz 300 SL Coupé, W 198 I series (1954-
1957)

• Breathtaking sports car with racing sport genes
• The Gullwing coupé fascinates experts and public
• Maximilian E. Hoffman campaigns for a production SL

It was to be the perfect surprise: the 300 SL production sports
car Mercedes-Benz presented at the International Motor
Sports Show in New York on 6 Februar 1954 was a sensation.
At its world première, the coupé with its characteristic gullwing
doors made the hearts of experten and public skip a beat.
Technical details such as its space frame and its extraordinary
door design were without parangon among the sports cars of
its day.

The bodywork with its flat, long bonnet and distinctive splash
guards above the wheel arches, featured many elements of
the W 194/11 prototype from 1953, for instance the typical
powerdomes. And the family likeness extended to the area
below the bonnet, too, for the W 198 I adopted the fuel direct
injection of the prototype. In the 300 SL the 6-cylinder in-line
engine had a nominal output of 215 bhp (158 kW) enabling a
top speed of 260 km/h according to the relevant brochure.
This value was calculated for an engine speed of 6500 rpm
and a rear axle ratio of 1:3.25. In actual fact, though, the
vehicle did not quite reach this value: on an official test drive
carried out by the factory in August 1954 it reached a
maximum speed of 247.5 km/h, averaged between outward
and return legs, the best speed in one direction was 252 km/h.
However: for a cultivated road-going sports car of the time
these were outstanding values.

This exceptional driving performance was matched by an
exceptional price, because in 1954 29,000 Marks was a

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
fortune. The 190 SL Roadster, unveiled together with the             Page 22
300 SL, cost 16,500 Marks, placing it in the upper price
segment, too. For comparison: at that time a Mercedes-Benz
200 (W 180) luxury saloon with a six-cylinder in-line engine
could be acquired for around 12,500 Marks. In the summer of
1954 production of the 300 SL started up. The production
vehicle possessed a series of detail improvements, including a
greater level of comfort, over the exhibition car.

It was only natural for the 300 SL to have its world première in
New York, for it was Maximilian E. Hoffman – since January
1952 official importer for the Mercedes-Benz brand for the US
market – who campaigned intensely for the construction of a
production sports car. Apart from the series 180 and 300
Saloons, he was particularly interested in the 300 SL (W 194)
racing sports car, whose great successes boosted the
popularity of the Mercedes-Benz brand in the United States
explosively. Hoffman saw assured sales prospects for a
production version of the car. At the same time he broached
the idea of a smaller SL roadster based on Type 180 – this
was how the 190 SL came to be.

Daimler-Benz was fully taken up with design and development
tasks, so that the Stuttgart-based company even cancelled its
originally planned participation in sports car races in 1953.
Because of this, Hoffman’s demand for a 300 SL Sports
Coupé was not exactly opportune, although it did have a
certain attractiveness of its own, for a true sports car was still
missing in Mercedes-Benz’s portfolio. However, there were
only a few months left before the New York Auto Show, which
would be an excellent opportunity for the presentation of the
new Mercedes-Benz passenger car programme. This lead the
Board of Director to decide to turn the 300 SL racing car
prototype developed for the 1953 season into a road-going
version suitable for everyday use.



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
After the first tests, the press was beside itself. The German       Page 23
trade journal “auto, motor und sport” wrote: “Among the sports
cars of our time, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL is both the most
refined and the most fascinating – a dream of a car.” The
British journal “AutoSport” enthused: “The Mercedes-Benz 300
SL is a car with a wonderful external appearance, coupled with
virtually unbelievable performance. Its design and production
quality border on perfection and the entire concept represents
the uncompromising realisation of all the new ideas the car
incorporates.”

The hope of success in the United States market also became
reality: the US journal Road & Track was equally full of praise:
“When a comfortable interior combines with remarkably good
handling, with almost terrifying road-holding, a light and at the
same time precise steering and a performance that matches
or even exceeds that of the best cars to date, then there’s only
one more thing to say: The sports car of the future has
become reality.”

The racing heritage of the 300 SL seduced renowned racing
pilots and private drivers all over the world into entering the
car in sports car races and rallies. In the 1955 Mille Miglia, the
team of John Cooper Fitch and his co-pilot Kurt Gesell drove a
production SL to superior victory in their category. Werner
Engel won the European touring car championship in an SL in
1955, Walter Schock in 1956. The Liège–Rome–Liège
marathon rally was won by Olivier Gendebien in 1955 and by
Willy Mairesse in 1956. In the USA, Paul O’Shea clinched the
American Sports Car Champion’s title in Production Class D of
the championship series organised by the Sports Car Club of
America in 1955 and 1956.

A total of 30 series W 198 I vehicles with aluminium
lightweight bodywork were made in 1955 and 1956. They bore
their own specific vehicle identification numbers, except the


Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
first car of the series, which was given a steel sheet bodywork      Page 24
vehicle identification number. This aluminium version, 130 kilos
lighter than the standard version, was not listed in the price
lists but could be ordered just like a regular car. Customers
with motor sport aspirations were among the main target
groups for this lighter gullwing car.

A further rarity was a coupé with a glass-fibre-reinforced
bodywork.
This unique specimen, today the property of the company’s
own
vehicle collection, can be identified by two details: on the front
wings it sports two headlamps with long chrome strips such as
those on the 220 a and 220 S. And the doors do not close as
tightly as those of its steel sheet or aluminium sheet
counterparts.

The road-going racing coupé became the symbol of success
for the rich and the beautiful of its day and age, a dream come
true for a few other people and for many a dream they were at
least able to see and hear every now and then. The engine's
vibrant melody fascinated people just as much as the
elegance of the ladies who managed to slide into the depths
of the seat and emerge again in well-practiced, perfectly lady-
like fashion. By 1957, 1400 customers all over the world had
taken delivery of 300 SL Coupés. Very soon the W 198 I
became a much-sought-after classic; over the following
decades, well-maintained cars continued to fetch astronomical
prices. The timeless elegance which the Gullwing coupé
radiates to this very day was honoured in 1999 when it was
voted “Sports Car of the Century” by an international jury.

Technical highlights of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
(W 198 I)

• Lightweight tubular spaceframe

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
• Coupé with roof-hinged gullwing doors                                      Page 25

Production figures

Models               Internal    Production period:    Number of
                     designation pre-production to end units

300 SL
                     W 198 I            1954-1957             1,400*
Coupé

* 30 of which with light-metal bodywork, the first vehicle bearing a steel
sheet metal bodywork vehicle identification number.




Appealing and comfortable: Mercedes-Benz
190 SL Roadster, W 121 series, (1955-1963)

• The first open-top production sports car of the SL
  family
• A sporty-elegant two seater road-going motor car
• The USA, an important market for the vehicle
• Première for a new four-cylinder engine with a
  displacement of 1.9 litres

An elegant, open-top sports car with the Mercedes star on its
radiator: That is model 190 SL (W 121), which Mercedes-Benz
presented in New York in 1954 and whose market launch was
in 1955. The roadster’s story began with Maximilian E.
Hoffman, since 1952 the New York-based official Mercedes-
Benz importer for the US market. In 1953 he realised the
sales potential for sports cars from Mercedes-Benz in the
USA, and then campaigned for two of these vehicles to be
built as production vehicles: according to Hoffman’s
recommendation, the 300 SL Racing Coupé (series W 194)
was to be made available – with modifications – as a
production vehicle, and the Stuttgart-based brand was at the



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
same time to produce an open-top sports car to accompany            Page 26
the Gullwing coupé. That is how the 190 SL was born.

At the time Daimler-Benz was fully saturated with design and
development tasks – both for production vehicles and also
with the preparation for the 1954 racing season, for which the
new W 196 R series formula racing car was intended. Due to
the enormous workload, the Stuttgart-based company even
stalled their planned participation in the 1953 sports car races.
The new SLs increased the pressure, but were considered
important for Mercedes-Benz’s image and market position. For
the 1950s were a time of great expansion after the Second
World War. With sports cars Mercedes-Benz would be able to
round off its model range with attractive, exclusive vehicles in
a new segment – ever since 1935 decidedly sporty cars had
been missing in their portfolio. Thus already in mid-September
of 1953 the Board’s decision was taken: the 190 SL and the
300 SL were to be built as series production cars.

About five months later both cars were to celebrate their
premières in America: they were presented at the International
Motor Sports Show in New York which took place there from 6
to 14 February 1954, at that time the most important motor
show on the other side of the Atlantic. This meant that the
engineers had very little time for development. Speed was of
the essence, especially in the case of the 190 SL, which had
to be technically redesigned based on the 180 series,
whereas for the 300 SL production sports car, the further-
developed 300 SL racing sports car served as a model.
Already a few days after the Board’s decision, the directors of
Daimler-Benz were examining the first sketches, and two
weeks further on they were able to assess the first 1:10 scale
model, which was followed another eight weeks later by a full-
scale model.




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
The pace of development was raised still further. The floor         Page 27
assembly, which came from the Mercedes-Benz 180, had to
be adapted to the new ideas and the right engine had to be
found. Moreover, the tight schedule stipulated that the
contours of the planers on which the body would be created
be finalised by 31 October 1953. The race against time was
won: Mercedes-Benz registered a tremendously favourable
response to both vehicles at the show.

Until then, the bodies of various models had been available in
the two-seater A-version as Cabriolet, Roadster, or Coupé,
too. According to chief engineer Fritz Nallinger, this body
variant would be replaced in future by the SL vehicles – no
longer with the existing formal lines and face, but explicitly in
the SL design, which included the star placed centrally on the
radiator grille. This was a paradigm change in the model
structure, making the 190 SL and 300 SL the symbols of a
new product philosophy and the forerunners of the later SL-
Class.

While series production of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL began
in August 1954 at the Sindelfingen plant, the 190 SL was
thoroughly revised once more because the car displayed at
the International Motor Sports Show in New York was neither
technically tested nor stylistically mature. In March 1955,
Daimler-Benz then presented the final model of the sports car
at the Geneva Motor Show. The body was designed by Walter
Häcker and closely followed the design of the 300 SL Gullwing
Coupé. However, unlike the 300 SL, the 190 SL had a
retractable soft top.

The production body showed some clear differences from the
show car: the stylised intake scoop on the bonnet was
dropped; the forward edge of the bonnet had been moved
farther back; there were splash guards above the rear wheel
arches too; and the bumpers, indicators and tail lights were

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
modified. The Sindelfingen factory started building the pre-        Page 28
production series in January 1955. Main series production
commenced in May.

The 190 SL is technically related to the “Ponton” (pontoon)
saloons – commonly so called because of their characteristic
body shape – of the W 120/121 series. Their internal
designation was W 121, and the 190 that appeared in 1956
was also given that designation. From the beginning the
190 SL was designed as a two-seater cabriolet.

In the 1950s, the meaning of the term “roadster” experienced
a change. The classic roadster was a rather spartanly
equipped sporty two-seater with detachable side windows, for
instance, and a removable fabric top with its roof frame. But
the customers’ comfort standards were now higher, and the
Mercedes-Benz 190 SL sports car responded to this. Though
not a roadster in the classic sense, it was designated as such
by the company.

In contrast to the 300 SL, bearing the mark of its racing sport
origins, it was conceived as a sporty-elegant two-seater
touring and utility car. It was available in three versions: as a
car with a fabric top (price in February 1955: DM 16,500) and
as a coupé with removable hard top, optionally with or without
a fabric top (price in September 1955:
DM 17,650/DM 17,100). These prices make clear the
exclusive placing of these vehicles in the model range. The
300 SL cost DM 29,000 DM in 1954, and thus considerably
more than the 190 SL, however, the sports car was clearly
placed above the Saloon – thus Mercedes-Benz offered
model 180 at a list price of DM 9450 in 1954/1955. As an
optional extra, a third, transversal seat could be fitted in the
rear of the 190 SL.

The motor press praised the 190 SL among other things for its

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
safe handling properties. These were ensured by the low-pivot      Page 29
single-joint swing axle already familiar from the 220 a, and
other features. The front wheel suspension including the sub-
frame was adopted from model 180, from which the floor
assembly – though shortened – also came.

A new development was the 1.9-litre petrol engine with the
designation M 121 B II. The four-cylinder unit had a single
overhead camshaft and is regarded as the forerunner of an
entire family of engines. In the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL it
developed 105 bhp (77 kW) at 5700 rpm and accelerated the
fabric-topped variant from 0 to 100 km/h in 14.5 seconds. The
top speed was a respectable 170 km/h – which made it one of
the fastest cars on the road in the 1950s and 1960s. The
petrol consumption was put at a rather moderate 8.6 litres per
100 km; the 65-litre tank provided adequate range.

During its production run the 190 SL underwent many
improvements in details. Clearly recognisable are the wide
chrome strips on the upper edge of the door (introduced in
March 1956) and larger tail lights (June 1956, as also used on
models 220 a, 219 and 220 S). In July 1957, the rear licence
plate lamp was moved to the bumper horns to enable fitting
the wide licence plates which were being introduced at the
time. The rear bumper horns were thus a basic equipment
item, while at the front they cost extra; the US versions always
had them at the front and the rear as standard. From October
1959, a new hardtop with a larger rear window gave the
coupés much improved rear visibility. In August 1960, the lock
of the boot lid was changed; simultaneously a recessed
handle replaced the previous bow-type handle. In 1963, the
last Mercedes-Benz 190 SL rolled out of the production bay. In
all, 25,881 were built. Most of them went to the USA –
Maximilian E. Hoffman’s evaluation proved right.

A sports variant of the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
The first sales brochures showed a sports variant of the           Page 30
190 SL: light-alloy doors, small Perspex racing windscreen, no
soft top, no bumpers, heat exchanger or insulating material,
gave it a weight of 1000 kilograms, around ten per cent less
than the normal road version. The number of units built is not
documented, and only very few sports versions found their
way to the customers; they probably also came in for further
fine tuning with modifications to the four-cylinder engine,
lowering of the body, sports shock absorbers and modified
springs. The sports 190 SL scored its biggest success in 1956
in the Sports Car Grand Prix in Portuguese Mação, entered by
the then Daimler-Benz importer in Hong Kong. The right-hand-
drive sports car took first place ahead of a Ferrari Mondial and
various Jaguar and Austin-Healey cars. In the same year the
Mercedes-Benz general importer in Morocco won his class
(GT to two litres displacement) in the Grand Prix of
Casablanca. On account of the racing regulations the idea of
the sports 190 SL was not pursued any further: in many
competitions the vehicle, modified as described, would have
been classed as a production sports car and thus would not
have had a chance. On top of that a decision of the racing
authority FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile)
prevented classification as a GT – it said that a Gran Turismo
must have a completely enclosable body – a condition which
the converted 190 SL could not meet.

The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL in the press

Shortly after the presentation of the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL at
the International Motor Sports Show in New York, “auto motor
und sport”, Germany, No. 3, 1954, wrote: “The Mercedes
190 SL is an elegant and fast touring sports car that can be
used as an ordinary, workaday vehicle, but additionally offers
the possibility of successfully competing in smaller sporting
events. ... For this new model Mercedes dispensed with its
hallowed radiator tradition, as it did for the 300 SL. The very

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
harmonious front end nevertheless shows that elegant and           Page 31
distinguished lines are entirely possible without neglecting the
attributes of fashion and functionality.”

The Swiss journal “Automobil Revue”, wrote in its November
14. 1956 issue: “Despite its high output the 190 SL is not
actually a sports car, but an uncomplicated touring car that
stands with all its four wheels firmly planted on the ground.
Thanks to its exemplary handling characteristics it is among
the select group of vehicles with which it is possible to reach
the highest average speeds safely and without haste, and
taking full consideration of all other road users.”

In its spring issue 21/1957, the German magazine “Motor-
Revue” published a first road test report. The tester wrote:
“When using the prescribed tyres it is possible to accelerate
the 300 SL Roadster with turned front wheels at curve limit
speeds, without it showing the slightest tendency to break out.
This meek character of a sports car with top speeds of 235-
250 km/h (depending on transmision ratio) with a powerful
acceleration capacity, basically due to soft suspension and
exceptional adjustment, make the new Roadster the vehicle
with the greatest performance and safest handling that I have
ever driven. It seems to me most noteworthy that, with the top
in place there is a total absence of vibrations, rumble and
resonance phenomena in the interior of the car – also a
success of the loving attention lavished on the adaptation of
the space frame, wheel suspension and wheels, an adaptation
that has been optimally solved.”

In 1960 “auto motor und sport”, Germany, No. 15, 1960,
published a detailed test report on the Mercedes-Benz
190 SL: “The 190 SL owes its good reputation not just to its
elegant appearance, but also to its robustness and reliability
and its accurate handling. The good build quality of the body
and the roadster soft top deserve special mention.”

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
Technical highlights of the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121)            Page 32

• Advanced four-cylinder engine with one overhead camshaft
• State-of-the-art suspension for high-level ride comfort and
  safety
• Retractable roadster top

Production figures

Models         Internal    Production period:     Number of units
               designation pre-production to
                           end

190 SL         W 121 B II 1955-1963               25,881*


* Roadsters and Coupés.




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
A new openness: Mercedes-Benz 300 SL                                Page 33
Roadster, W 198 II series (1957-1963)

• Farewell to the Gullwing
• Hard top optional
• Improved suspension and engine

At the Geneva Motor Show in March 1957, Mercedes-Benz
presented the roadster version of the 300 SL as the successor
of the Gullwing coupé. From the start, Maximilian E. Hoffman
had asked for this vehicle for the US market, since he saw
greater chances for an open car there than for a coupé.
Technically speaking, the Roadster was broadly similar to the
coupé: modification to the side sections of the tubular space
frame made it possible to reduce the sill height enough to
accomodate normal doors.

A fundamental improvement: the rear-axle suspension. The
single-joint low-pivot swing axle – familiar from the 220 W –
was installed in the 300 SL Roadster in an adapted form,
being equipped for the first time with a compensating spring.
This greatly improved the handling characteristics over those
of the original swing axle of the Gullwing coupé.

From 1958 onwards, an optional removable coupé roof with a
generous wrap-around rear window was available at a price of
1500 Marks; this could be retrofitted. Noteworthy was the rear
window, swinging round far into the sides, and the
consummate design of the hard top. Two technical
modifications that were incorporated into the production in the
course of its six year run are particularly worthy of mention: in
March 1961, the 300 SL was equipped with Dunlop front and
rear disc brakes, and from March 1962 a modified engine with
a light-metal block was installed.




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
At this time there was a special version of the 300 SL              Page 34
Roadster: the 300 SLS, only two units of which were ever built
especially for participation in the North American Sports Car
Championship. The reason for this special version was the
wish for publicity-effective participation in races in the USA in
order to promote sales of the Roadster. The use of the regular
production version met with the objection of the Sports Car
Club of America to permit participation of the new model
already in the 1957 season in the “Standard production”
vehicle category. In order to have a chance at least in the only
alternative vehicle category remaining, D, the production
Roadster was pared down ruthlessly to become the SLS.

On the outside the 300 SLS can be distinguished by the
absence of bumpers, by its specially-shaped cockpit cover
with air intake slot, the low racing winscreen and the roll-over
bar behind the driver’s seat. The work carried out in the
Daimler-Benz research department was successful and Paul
O’Shea won the North American Sports Car Championship in
category “D” far ahead of its competitors.

Production of the 300 SL ended concurrently with the end of
production of the 190 SL on 8 February 1963 in Sindelfingen,
a date that marks the close of an era: after the production of
the 300 model ended in March 1962, only the 300 SL had
remained as the last passenger car model with a separate
frame in Mercedes-Benz’s production programme. Both
versions of the 300 SL, Roadster and Gullwing coupé were
right from the very beginning enthusiasts’ cars that have lost
nothing of their allure to this day, for many years they have
been among the most sought-after and valued classics.

Technical highlights of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
Roadster (W 198 II)




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
• Introduction of Dunlop disc brakes and light-metal engine          Page 35
  block
• Rear-axle suspension with single-joint swing axle
• Optional removable coupé roof

Production figures

Models                  Internal    Production period:   Number of
                        designation pre-production to    units
                                    end
300 SL
                        W 198 II          1957-1963      1,858*
Roadster

* Roadsters and Roadsters with coupé roof.




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
The “Pagoda” drives up: Mercedes-Benz SL,                         Page 36
W 113 series (1963-1971)

• A comfortable two-seater touring car featuring high
  performance and optimum handling safety
• Its characteristic roof shape gave it its nickname
• First SL with a safety body based on Béla Barényi’s
  principle

The Geneva Motor Show of March 1963 was the scene of a
remarkable and well-regarded première: Daimler-Benz
presented the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL, a new sports car to
replace two models of the previous sales range. Its two
predecessors, the 190 SL (W 121) and 300 SL (W 198), were
extremely popular and successful from the start. The 300 SL
in particular was already a living legend.

The new model took a middle course between the concepts of
the 190 SL and the 300 SL: the 230 SL, internally designated
as W 113 series, held the balance between the sporty tuning
of a classic roadster but added to them the comfort of a two-
seater touring car featuring high performance and the most
advanced features for optimum driving safety.

The 230 SL was available from summer 1963 in three
versions: an open-top car with a folding soft top that could be
operated with the greatest of ease – that in itself was a minor
sensation; an open-top version with hardtop, and finally as
hardtop coupé. The hardtop coupé had no soft top and soft-
top compartment, but more room for luggage instead. All three
versions could be driven with the top open. As an optional
extra a rear transverse seat was available, as in the 190 SL.

The exterior of the 230 SL was characterised by clear, straight
lines and the unmistakable SL face including the large,
centrally positioned Mercedes star. The bonnet had a slight

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
additional bulge in the middle to provide space for the               Page 37
vertically-installed six-cylinder engine. The boot was
generously dimensioned. The hardtop with high windows and a
roof borne up only by slim pillars conveyed an impression of
lightness which simply did not match the stereotype of a
sports car. With its inwardly-directed curvature it reminds one
of Far Eastern temples, and straightaway the car had a
nickname before it really even hit the road: “Pagoda”. In
addition, because of its shape the hardtop made it easier to
get in and out of the car.

Apart from the wheelbase – the magic number of
2400 millimetres was taken unchanged from the 190 SL and
300 SL models – the new SL had practically nothing in
common with its two predecessors. All the same, the W 113
series was not an entirely new design since its technical
concept largely conformed to that of the 220 SE (W 111/3).
The SL used the “tailfin” frame-floor assembly, albeit
shortened and reinforced, including front and rear wheel
suspension.

In addition to the standard four-speed manual transmission,
for the first time in an SL a four-speed automatic transmission
was available as an optional extra. A five-speed manual
transmission produced by Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen (ZF)
was added as third variant in May 1966.

Safety is the new word

The “Pagoda” was the first SL in which sporty speed
combined with safety as a design objective. Since its basis
was the floor unit of the famed “Tailfin”, the world’s first saloon
with a safety body, this SL also had a rigid passenger cell and
crumple zones in the form of easily deformable front and rear
segments. This design went back to engineer Béla Barényi,
responsible for many of the safety features in cars of the

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
Mercedes-Benz brand. As in the saloon the interior was              Page 38
designed so as to reduce injury hazards in accidents, by
eliminating hard corners and edges. As in the previous model,
seat belts were available as an optional extra. The steering
gear was moved from the crash-imperilled front section to the
firewall; the steering column yielding to axial compression and
additionally featuring a joint that prevented the feared lance
effect in an accident. In 1967, the telescoping safety steering
column and the impact absorber in the steering wheel were
added.

Chassis, engine, and transmission

The chassis, adopted from the 220 SE (W 111) Saloon, was
tuned to the requirements of the sporty car, featuring
recirculating ball steering, a dual-circuit brake system and disc
brakes on the front wheels. The suspension was taut, but for a
sports car almost atypically comfortable. Damping was
provided by gas-filled shock absorbers, and for the first time a
Mercedes-Benz passenger car rode on radial-ply tyres.

The six-cylinder engine, which also came from the saloon,
underwent several major changes, the most important of
which was the transition from a two-plunger injection pump to
a six-plunger unit. This made it possible to “shoot” the fuel
directly through the preheated intake port and the opened
intake valves into the combustion chamber, and not just into
the intake pipe, as before. The M 127 II engine, its bore
enlarged to give it a displacement of 2.3 litres, thus developed
150 bhp (110 kW) at 5500 rpm and delivered torque of
196 newton metres at 4200 rpm. Designed very sportily, this
drive unit for the SL delighted in high engine speeds but did
not take so kindly to underrevving.

The four-speed transmission, likewise from the saloon
construction kit, was designed with a slightly lower ratio in 1st

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
gear to achieve sportier acceleration. It sprinted from 0 to       Page 39
100 km/h in 9.7 seconds. The top speed of the fabric-roofed
230 SL was 200 km/h, the hard-top version only marginally
lower at 196 km/h. The variant with the optional automatic
transmission reached a top speed of 195 km/h. In the eyes of
sports car purists the automatic is almost immoral. But history
teaches us a different lesson: by the time the “Pagoda” was
discontinued the automatic transmission’s share was around
77 per cent. It was much the same with the power steering
that was also available at extra cost. The W 113 series was a
pioneer also on that score: all subsequent SL models always
pair exceptionally good performance with highest levels of
comfort. The respectable number of 19,831 units of the
230 SL were built.

Successors with higher displacements

On 27 February 1967, Mercedes-Benz presented the 250 SL,
which replaced the 230 SL that had been produced for four
years. On the outside the new car, whose series production
had already begun in December 1966, was indistinguishable
from its predecessor. The changes concerned mainly the
engine and the brake system. Both were taken, slightly
modified, from the 250 SE (W 108 III). The M 129 III engine,
its displacement enlarged by 200 cubic centimetres, had the
same output as the 230 SL, 150 bhp (110 kW) at 5500 rpm,
but 10 per cent more torque and a flatter torque curve. It was
now provided with seven crankshaft bearings for smoother
operation, and with an oil/water heat exchanger as well; only
the future 280 SL would be fitted with an air/oil cooler. The
250 SL thus was appreciably more flexible in operation, but
did not quite reach the previous model’s top speed owing to its
higher weight. The 250 SL’s top speed with four-speed manual
transmission was 195 km/h or 200 km/h depending on the
final drive ratio (standard: 1:3.92; optional: 1:3.69; automatic
transmission: 190 km/h or 195 km/h). With five-speed manual

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
transmission it was available in only one variant (1:4.08),       Page 40
which reached 200 km/h.

The changes to the brake system included disc brakes on the
rear wheels as well, larger brake discs at the front, and the
fitting of a brake power regulator to prevent rear wheel
overbraking. As an optional extra a differential lock was now
available. A fuel tank capacity of 82 litres instead of the
previous 65 permitted an extended cruising range. In addition
to the three body versions known from the 230 SL, the 250 SL
was available as an optional extra in a fourth version, a coupé
with rear seat bench, which was shown for the first time in
March 1967 at the Geneva Motor Show. In this so-called
California version, the necessary space for the rear bench
seat had been obtained by eliminating soft top and soft-top
compartment. Since the soft top could not be retrofitted, this
variant promised unspoilt driving pleasure only in dry regions
or with mounted coupé roof.

Less than a year after the presentation of the 250 SL, after
5196 units had been built it was replaced by the 280 SL. Apart
from the model plate it could only be distinguished from the
two preceding models on the outside by the different wheel
hub caps.

In the wake of the market launch of the intermediate range
models of the 114/115 series, not only the luxury-class
saloons, coupés and cabriolets, but also the SL was powered
by a 2.8-litre engine. Thanks to a camshaft with changed valve
timing, the variant of the M 130 engine used in the 280 SL
mobilised 10 bhp (7.4 kW) more than the base version of the
280 SE, developing 170 bhp (125 kW) at 5750 rpm.
Compared with the 250 SL the power had been increased by
around 20 bhp (15 kW) and torque by 10 per cent. For the first
time the radiator fan was fitted with a viscous coupling which
limited the rotational speed. The 0 to 100 km/h was in the

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
vicinity of nine seconds and the top speed again came up to           Page 41
the level of the 230 SL, i.e., 200 km/h in the fabric-top version.
Its suspension, designed for further enhanced comfort, was
softer. The service intervals were 10,000 kilometres instead of
3000.

23,885 units of the fast and reliable Mercedes-Benz 280 SL
rolled off the assembly line. All in all, from 1963 to 1971 a total
of 48,912 “Pagodas” were built – remarkable for a sports car
with such high standards. Today its high overall quality, its
elegance and its clear lines make the W 113 series a coveted
item among restorers and collectors.

The W 113 series in the press

The motor magazine “auto motor und sport”, Germany, No. 6,
1963, characterised the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL: “A sports car
that does 200 km/h, goes from 0 to 100 km/h in less than ten
seconds, yet has the smooth engine running characteristics
and comfort of a touring car.”

A detailed test report in “auto motor und sport”, Germany,
No. 21, 1963, added: “The upshot: the 230 SL is one of the
most refined sports cars ever. All the same it deserves to be
numbered among the truly sporty vehicles because it not only
delivers sporty performance, but is as compact and safe-
handling as should be expected of a sports car. [...] And finally,
you can push the 230 SL at a very fast pace if you wish, but
you can also maintain the slowcoach tempo that traffic
conditions so frequently force upon us.”

“Road & Track” wrote the following about the 280 SL in its
August 1968 issue: “The ride, over all sorts of roads, is
fantastic. The body is absolutely rigid and rattle-free,
regardless of which top is installed, and the supple



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
suspension just works away down there without disturbing the        Page 42
superb poise of the SL.”

Technical highlights of the Mercedes-Benz SL, W 113
series

• Extremely easy-to-handle folding top
• Six-cylinder engine with six-plunger fuel injection pump
• For the first time, automatic transmission available for an
  SL
• Safety bodywork with rigid passenger cell and deformable
  front and rear segments
• Numerous further safety features such as interior devoid of
  sharp edges and angled steering column
• Disc brakes on front axle, from 1967 onwards, on rear axle as
  well

Production figures

Models        Internal    Production period:      Number of units
              designation pre-production to
                          end

230 SL        W 113              1963-1967        19,831


250 SL        W 113 A            1966-1968        5,196


280 SL        W 113 E 28 1967-1971                23,885


Total                                             48,912




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
                                                  Page 43




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
18 years production time: the Mercedes-Benz                       Page 44
SL, R 107 series (1971-1989)

• A total of 237,287 open-top two-seaters produced in
  18 years
• Engines again and again updated to the state of the art
• Coupés of the SLC series available until 1981 parallel
  to the open-top version
• The first SL with eight cylinders

In April 1971, a new SL rolled out onto the highway, the
Mercedes-Benz 350 SL. For the first time in the history of the
model series an eight-cylinder power plant did duty under the
long bonnet. From all sides it made the impression of a strong,
self-confident, imposing open-top vehicle. Its parents also
gave it an equally well designed, removable coupé roof for the
road. Besides elegance and quality the body radiated safety,
since the crash behaviour of the two-seater was far ahead of
its time.

A hard decision

The decision to manufacture the R 107 series (for the first
time an SL series received the internal designation “R” as in
Roadster instead of “W” as in Wagen = car) was taken by the
Board of Management after intensive debates on 18 June
1968. At issue was whether there should be a Targa roof
version, i.e., one with a removable roof panel, instead of the
fabric-topped variant, because owing to higher safety
standards alarming news was to be heard from the USA
regarding the licensing of open-top cars.

That a decision was finally made in favour of an open-top two-
seater with a fabric roof and an additional removable hard top
can be attributed to Hans Scherenberg, the head of
Development, who fought tooth and nail for it: “The SL gave

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
me great pleasure, but also caused me great trouble. This was      Page 45
no easy decision for us,” he summed up the decisive meeting.

The history of the roadster is intimately linked to that of the
coupé. For the coupé question still remained unanswered. It
was not decided that day. Discussion centred around whether
one should additionally, and soon, make a four-seater sports
coupé based on the R 107 series, or wait for the coming S-
Class (W 116) to build it on that basis. But then a production
model would not have arrived until much later, in the mid-
1970s.

Karl Wilfert, then Head of Body Design in Sindelfingen,
developed – pretty much on his own authority – a coupé
based on the R 107 and presented it one day to the Board of
Management as a “rough draft”. Rejected at first, Wilfert
managed to push through his idea of a sports coupé with the
tenacity which was so characteristic of him.

And so just six months after its première the SL was followed
in October 1971 by a comfortable four-seater sports coupé,
the 350 SLC, whose unconventional lines also found it many
friends around the world in the course of the years. Internally
the series was designated C 107 (the “C” stands for “coupé”).
Up to the windscreen its appearance matched that of the
open-top variant; behind the windscreen the overall height and
length grew. A flat roof spanned the four-seater passenger
compartment in a gentle curve, going over into a large and
very steep rear window that arched in two directions. The boot
lid was slightly convex in shape, unlike the SL’s.

In the side prospect the length of the coupé is documented,
firstly, by the 360-millimetre longer wheelbase
(2820 millimetres versus 2460), secondly by the line of the side
windows. Without interfering B-pillars they were completely
retractable, as is usual in a Mercedes-Benz coupé. The SLC’s

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
drag coefficient was better than that of the SL so that the coupé    Page 46
attained the same performance despite an added weight of
some 50 kilograms. A particularly noteworthy fact is that it fully
lived up to its classification as a “Sports Coupé”, gaining wins
for Mercedes-Benz in many rallies and long-distance races.

Safety as agenda

Béla Barényi’s safety concept with front and rear crumple
zones and a rigid passenger cell found expression in the 107
series in a further developed form. The backbone of the R 107
is not simply a shortened and reinforced Saloon floor
assembly, as in the predecessor, but an independent frame-
floor unit with a closed transmission tunnel and box-shaped
cross and longitudinal members which featured differing sheet
metal thicknesses and a resultant carefully defined crumple
pattern.

The SL definitely had to be an open-top car, and that being the
case the only protection in a possible roll-over would be
provided by the A-pillar plus windscreen. They were
thoroughly redesigned and had 50 per cent more strength to
show than in the previously-built version. In addition, to
enhance its strength the windscreen was bonded into the
frame. This resulted in a remarkable power of resistance in the
roof-drop test with the result that it was possible to license the
open-top car for the USA even without a Targa bar. To
complete the logic the rear window of the hardtop was also
bonded into its frame.

In the interior there were pioneering changes to report, as
well. The hard dashboard made way for an ingenious sheet-
steel design that yielded on impact both in the top section and
the knee area and was foam-padded. The switches and levers
were recessed. The four-spoke steering wheel based on the
latest findings of accident researchers, was also new. The

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
proven impact absorber was still in place, but the steering-       Page 47
wheel rim, spokes, padded boss and hub were covered with
polyurethane foam. As further safety feature the fuel tank was
no longer installed in the rear end but above the rear axle,
protected against collision. From March 1980, the anti-lock
braking system ABS was offered; from January 1982, also
airbag and belt tensioner.

A bestseller right off the bat

But it was not the safety aspects that motivated customers
around the world to quickly reach for the new SL. It was the
promise of an open-top automobile that was a successful
piece of engineering all round – and it was in fact the only one
of its kind offered in the USA over a period of several years .
Its distinctive front end with the dominant SL face, the wide-
band headlamps and grooved turn indicator covers had a
powerful aura; the lines of the low silhouette were
harmonious – soft top open or closed, or with hardtop. And the
very slight inward curve of the boot lid, along with the concave
hardtop, were reminiscent of “Pagoda” days. The wide-band
tail lights with their ribbed surface not only were largely
insensitive to soiling, but additionally gave the rear end a
touch of vigour.

Extremely conducive to comfort and ease of operation was the
easily and speedily operated soft top, a refined version of the
“Pagoda” top. It took just 30 seconds to open or close it.
Folded, it disappeared underneath a cover that was
meanwhile customary in the SL series.

A number of details underscored the car’s safety aspirations.
The seats were available from the start with head restraints,
and seat belts also were included. Physical well-being and
driver-fitness safety were served by the heating system with
its very spontaneous response, supported by new air ducting

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
in the doors. Newly developed wind-deflecting mouldings on             Page 48
the A-pillars, which also served to channel off mud-laden
water in the rain, and dirt-repelling covers on the exterior
mirrors enabled good visibility. They kept the side windows
clean even in inclement weather. The windscreen wipers
arranged closely to each other in the centre of the car swept a
respectable 70 per cent of the windscreen area, were always
optimally positioned in the flow of air and did not lift off even at
higher speeds.

Engines with catalytic converter

During its 18-year “production time” (which was not planned to
last that long, but in the end was indeed successful), the
R 107 was driven by a whole series of six- and eight-cylinder
engines. Its model designations are accordingly quite varied.

The eight-cylinder models were led by the 350 SL (1971 to
1980), whose 3.5-litre engine (M 116) already was known from
the W 108, W 109 and W 111 series. The 147 kW (200 bhp)
which it delivered at 5800 rpm helped the sports car, which
weighed 1600 kilograms after all, to clock nine seconds for
0 to 100 km/h and reach a top speed of 210 km/h. The
350 SLC had identical performance figures.

From autumn 1971 onwards, the 450 SL was produced,
initially for the US market. At 5000 rpm its M 117 engine
delivered 132 kW (180 bhp) in the California version and
140 kW (190 bhp) in the version for the other states, and from
1973 on, and 165 kW (225 bhp) in the European version. Top
speed was 215 km/h: it surged from 0 to 100 km/h in
8.8 seconds. In 1972, the 450 SLC, the corresponding coupé
version, followed, with identical engine and identical
performance. Prior to March 1973, both were destined
exclusively for export to North America, after that they were
included in the general sales range.

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
In July 1974, the SL model range was extended: the SL and         Page 49
SLC were now available as models 280 SL and 280 SLC with
the 2.8-litre M 110 engine. It developed 136 kW (185 bhp) at
6000 rpm and had proven its reliability in the two years before
in the “Stroke Eight” series W 114/115 and in the W 116-series
S-Class. Both models had identical performance: the top
speed was 205 km/h; they could sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in
10.1 seconds.

Thus three SL engines were now available to choose from –
nothing unusual nowadays, but a real innovation for this model
category in those days. Only the attentive observer could
distinguish between the three variants: The 280 SL could be
recognised by its tyres, narrower than those of the 350 SL and
the 450 SL. In addition, the 450 SL featured a discreet front
spoiler attached to the rear lower end of the front apron and
which significantly increased the radiator’s air throughput.

Between November 1975 and February 1976, the fuel
injection systems of all three engines were changed for better
compliance with emission standards, which had meanwhile
also become stiffer in most European countries. The
electronically-controlled Bosch D-Jetronic was abandoned for
the newly-developed mechanically-controlled Bosch K-
Jetronic. The adaptation entailed minor losses in output in all
three cases: in the 280 SL to 130 kW (177 bhp) at 6000 rpm,
in the 350 SL to 143 kW (194 bhp) at 5500 rpm, and in the
450 SL to 160 kW (218 bhp) at 5000 rpm.

At the same time the compression ratios of the 2.8 and 3.5-
litre engines were slightly reduced. In addition, the 3.5 and
4.5-litre engines were equipped with a contactless
transistorised ignition system and hydraulic valve clearance
compensation to facilitate maintenance.




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
The compression ratio of the 2.8-litre unit was raised to the old   Page 50
figure again in April 1978. With a few supporting measures the
engine then regained its earlier power potential of 136 kW
(185 bhp), which it now delivered already at 5800 rpm.

In September 1977, Mercedes-Benz launched the
450 SLC 5.0 with a V8 engine (M 117) enlarged to a
displacement of five litres. A hidden innovation was the first-
time application of hypereutectic cylinder contact surface
machining, a special smelting process which made it
unnecessary to insert cylinder liners. The engine delivered
177 kW (241 bhp) at 5000 rpm, good for 0 to 100 km/h
acceleration in 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 225 km/h. The
vehicle’s bonnet and boot lid were made of aluminium, and it
had light-alloy wheels as standard. On the outside the
450 SLC 5.0 was recognisable by, among other things, a
narrow spoiler on the rear end.

Revising the series

At the Geneva Motor Show in March 1980, Mercedes-Benz
presented the SL and SLC in updated form. Their interior
appointments, including the steering wheel were harmonised
with those of the 126-series S-Class, and the engineering was
brought up to the same level. The previous three-speed
automatic transmission with torque converter was replaced
with a four-speed variant. Models 280 SL and 280 SLC were
given a five-speed manual transmission as basic equipment.
In addition, the hardtop was now included in the standard
specifications of the open-top variant. But above all the light-
alloy eight-cylinder engines of the 126-series S-Class, slightly
modified, made their arrival in the 107-series. The six-cylinder
engine of the 280 SLC remained unchanged.

The new 500 SL, equipped with the 5.0-litre V8 (M 117)
familiar from the 450 SLC 5.0, replaced the 450 SL and

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
delivered an output of 177 kW (241 bhp) at 5000 rpm, to give        Page 51
the new top-of-the-range model a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration
of 7.8 seconds and a top speed of 225 km/h.

Models 350 SL and 350 SLC were sent off into retirement
after nine years of production. Their successors were the
380 SL and 380 SLC, whose 3.8-litre light-alloy engine
(M 116), with 160 kW (218 bhp) at 5500 rpm, originated after
the pattern of the five-litre unit, by enlarging the bore of the
long-serving 3.5-litre V8 with grey cast iron cylinder block.
Both models attained top speeds of 215 km/h and accelerated
to 100 km/h from a standstill in just 9 seconds. From the
outside the new models were almost indistinguishable from
the previous models, except for the badge with the model
designation. All three SL models had now a light-alloy bonnet
and the discreet front spoiler familiar from the 450 SLC 5.0;
the 500 SL was also given a light-alloy boot lid with a black
plastic rear spoiler, already familiar from the five-litre coupé.

In autumn 1981, both V8 engines were thoroughly redesigned
in the context of the “Mercedes-Benz Energy Concept” to
reduce their consumption and pollutant emissions. Along with
an increase in compression ratio the measures included
camshafts with variable valve timing, air-bathed injection
valves, and an electronic idling speed control. Owing to the
altered camshaft tuning the maximum torque could be shifted
to a lower engine speed range and, in the case of the 3.8-litre
engine, even increased. This power plant underwent
particularly far-reaching changes: to get a more favourable
volume-to-surface ratio the bore was reduced and the stroke
increased. The modified 3.8-litre V8 thus had a slightly larger
displacement. In both eight-cylinders, in exchange, so to
speak, for the improved economy, minor losses in power had
to be accepted, output dropping to 150 kW (204 bhp) at
5250 rpm in the 380 SL and to 170 kW (231 bhp) at 4750 rpm
in the 500 SL. As in the 126 series the final drive ratio was

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
adjusted to the changed engine characteristics and made             Page 52
higher, from 3.27 to 2.47 in the 380 SL and from 2.72 to 2.24
in the 500 SL.

For the SLC Coupés these changes came too late, however:
at the Frankfurt on the Main International Motor Show in
September 1981, along with the “Mercedes-Benz Energy
Concept” the 380 SEC and 500 SEC models of the C 126
series were presented, spelling retirement for the
SLC models, which had been built for exactly ten years.

But even after ten years of production there was no thought of
a replacement for the SL models; what’s more, four years after
the Energy Concept was presented, they came in for
extensive refinements, and so in September 1985, again at
the Frankfurt show, a completely revised SL model range was
introduced. The emphasis was on a restructured engine
range. A discreet facelift, primarily recognisable from the front
spoiler and wheels with aluminium rims (diameter:
38.10 centimetres), was also part of the package. The front
axle was reworked and the brakes enlarged with fixed
callipers. To prevent the cars from pulling to one side when
braking, the steering offset was reduced.

A comprehensive facelift

All engines were available in two versions: with a catalytic
converter and slightly lower output, and as so-called catalyst
retrofit version without a catalytic converter. The catalyst
retrofit versions could be equipped later on with a catalytic
converter, for example when the widespread supply of
unleaded petrol was ensured, and had their ignition system,
electronics and cable harness prepared for this.

A newly-designed 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine (M 103) which
had made its first appearance in the 300 E of the mid-range

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
W 124 series nine months earlier replaced the tried and tested   Page 53
2.8-litre engine, as it had already done previously in the
respective S-Class Saloon. As a result the 280 SL was
discontinued, and after a 22-year interruption there was again
a sports car with the magic model designation 300 SL. It
delivered an output of 138 kW (188 bhp) at 5700 rpm without
catalytic converter (top speed: 203 km/h; 0 to 100 km/h in
9.6 seconds) and 132 kW (179 bhp) with catalytic converter
(200 km/h; 9.9 seconds).

A new addition to the range was the 420 SL with the 4.2-litre
V8 engine (M 116), which delivered 160 kW (218 bhp) at
5200 rpm without a catalytic converter and 150 kW (204 bhp)
with one. It was created by adopting the bore of the original
3.8-litre engine and combining it with the stroke of the
“Mercedes-Benz Energy Concept” 3.8-litre engine, and it now
replaced that unit in the SL, the S-Class Saloon and the SEC
Coupé. The 420 SL accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in
8.5 seconds (with catalytic converter: 9 seconds) and reached
a top speed of 213 km/h (205 km/h).

The 5.0-litre engine (M 117) was modified, too; with catalytic
converter operation in mind it now had an electronic ignition
system and the electronically/mechanically controlled Bosch
KE-Jetronic injection system, delivering 180 kW (245 bhp) at
4750 rpm. With a catalytic converter the output was 164 kW
(223 bhp) at 4700 rpm. These values helped the 500 SL reach
a top speed of 225 km/h (with catalytic converter: 215 km/h)
and accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds
(7.8 seconds).

The most spectacular new development in the engine range
was a 5.6-litre eight-cylinder engine (M 117), which was
created by increasing the stroke of the 5.0-litre V8 and which
gave the SL an output of 170 kW (231 bhp) at 4750 rpm. The
560 SL was reserved for the USA, Australia and Japan export

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
markets. Fitted with an emission control system in the           Page 54
US version it had a top speed of 223 km/h and sprinted from 0
to 100 km/h in 7.7 seconds.

Production of the R 107 series ended in August 1989, more
than 18 years after start-up of the 350 SL. This SL series set
an internal record that will probably never be broken: in the
entire history of the company no other passenger car series
has ever been produced over such a long period, with the
exception of the G-Class. All told, in Sindelfingen 237,287
open-top cars were built, a number which impressively
demonstrates the great popularity of the 107 series. Of the
coupé a total of 62,888 units were built from 1971 to 1981.

The R 107 series in the press

In a first test of the Mercedes-Benz 350 SL “auto motor und
sport”, Germany, No. 9/1971, wrote: “Good suspension
comfort, definitely up to saloon standard, proves to be an
essential feature of the 350 SL: at low and high speeds it
absorbs big bumps well and takes small bumps in a way that
they are never a disturbance even on very poor roads.”

In 1986, “Road & Track”, USA, No. 11/1986, compared the
Mercedes-Benz 560 SL, which was in the last era of its
production, with the Cadillac Allanté and summed up:
“Legendary quality is Mercedes’ primary stock in trade. But
brilliant performance and outstanding ABS braking have
freshened [the vehicle] this year. Against these attributes,
Cadillac brings better handling and greater luxury to bear
while failing to match Mercedes’ performance and quality.”

“auto motor und sport”, Germany, No. 5/1986, reported: “In
curves, too, the modified SL displays a behaviour that does
not go well with the image one tends to have of the vehicle.
With its precise power-assisted steering, extremely high

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
possible transversal acceleration and now only reduced load      Page 55
change behaviour, the long-snouted, rather staid-looking car
delivers precisely that which one would expect from a
purebred Gran Turismo.“

Technical highlights of the Mercedes-Benz SL, R 107
series

• Further developed safety body
• Frame floor assembly with sheet metal of different
  thicknesses and a resulting carefully-defined crumple
  behaviour
• Rugged roll-over protection: high-strength A-pillars and
  windscreen frame with bonded glass for greater stability
• Special air ducting in doors ensures low soiling of side
  windows and exterior mirrors
• Bosch K-Jetronic contactless transistorised ignition,
  hydraulic valve clearance compensation (1975)
• First SL with exhaust gas catalytic converter (1985)

Production figures for Mercedes-Benz SL, R 107 series
and SLC, C 107 series

Model               Internal    Production period:   Number of
                    designation pre-production to    units
                                end
Roadsters:

280 SL              R 107 E 28 1974-1985             25,436

300 SL              R 107 E 30 1985-1989             13,742

350 SL              R 107 E 35 1971-1980             15,304

450 SL*             R 107 E 45 1971-1980             66,298




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
                                                                     Page 56
380 SL              R 107 E 38 1980-1985                   53,200

420 SL              R 107 E 42 1985-1989                   2,148

500 SL              R 107 E 50 1980-1985                   11,812

560 SL**            R 107 E 56 1985-1989                   49,347

Total                                                      237,287




Coupés:

280 SLC             C 107 E 28 1974-1981                   10,666

350 SLC             C 107 E 35 1971-1980                   13,925

380 SLC             C 107 E 38 1980-1981                   3,789

450 SLC*            C 107 E 45 1972-1980                   31,739

450 SLC 5.0 C 107 E 50 1977-1980                           2,769

500 SLC             C 107 E 50 1980-1981                   ***

Total                                                      62,888

* Before March 1973 only for export to North America.
** Export model for North America, Japan, and Australia.
*** Number of units contained in the figures for the 450 SLC 5.0.




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
Technology platform: Mercedes-Benz SL,                                Page 57
R 129 series (1989-2001)

• Numerous innovations, from the automatic roll-over
  bar to the integral seat
• Debut of the twelve-cylinder engine in the SL model,
  R 129 series
• Official AMG versions available for the first time

At the 1989 Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz presented
an SL that was a new car in every respect. The first models
were the 300 SL, 300 SL-24 and 500 SL. Internally the series
was designated R 129. Unlike the predecessors, its
production did not take place in Sindelfingen, but in Bremen
for capacity reasons. The response was immediately
extremely positive, and shortly after the presentation it was
foreseeable that the planned annual production of 20,000
units would be stretched to capacity for years and delivery
periods of several years would have to be accepted.

The SL face captured a permanent place in the Mercedes-
Benz model hierarchy over the decades. The new SL re-
interpreted the traditional basic shape of the grille: within the
radiator grille, organically integrated into the bonnet, the
Mercedes star was complemented by horizontal strips made
of anodised aluminium. Chief designer Bruno Sacco had done
an excellent job. The stylistically assured, no-frills lines of the
slightly wedge-shaped body, the flared wheel arches for the
wide-base tyres, the half-spoilers forward of the front wheels,
its steeply raked windscreen, skilfully modelled rear end and
the standard light-alloy wheels produce an exceedingly
harmonious overall effect.

The aerodynamic fine touches, including underbody and
airflow through the engine compartment, added up to a fuel-
saving, speed-increasing cd of 0.32 with the hardtop mounted.

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
A cd figure of 0.40 was measured for the open-top car with             Page 58
closed side windows.

“Car Design Award”

Hardly a year after its launch the SL was awarded the
international “Car Design Award”. The SL was the top choice
of an eleven-member jury of journalists from ten countries,
assisted by a representative of the city of Turin and one from
the Piedmont region. The jury stated as reason for the prize:
“In the Mercedes-Benz 300 – 500 SL the ensemble of safety
innovations, ... exemplary ergonomic solutions, and stringent
adherence to the traditional design culture of the
manufacturer's brand is convincing. The new SL embodies the
most valuable elements of up-to-date industrial design,
without losing the flair that distinguishes every sports
cabriolet.”

High torsional stiffness

The prerequisite for the proper operation of the fully automatic
folding soft top under all conditions is the extremely high
torsional rigidity of the body. To reduce the vibration and
torsion characteristics typical of open-top cars, additional
diagonal struts are fitted in the particularly critical areas of the
body. In the front end the front axle carrier is connected with
the door sills by two specially-shaped struts. In the rear end
two tubular struts between the door sills and the spare wheel
recess serve the same function. Owing to these measures it
was possible to improve the torsional rigidity by around 30 per
cent over that of the previous model, achieving a saloon-like
overall rigidity achieved.

This car set new standards in the area of safety, too. The
results of Mercedes-Benz’s rigorous frontal and rear-impact
crash tests for the open-top vehicle were sensational and a

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
clear proof of the scrupulous precision with which the               Page 59
developers had worked. The resistance to side impact went
far beyond what the law required and once again set trends
for the sensible design of all details, for instance the
overlapping of the doors with the sills, the cross-bracing
beneath the seats, including the rigid sides of the transmission
tunnel, or the high-strength steel tubes inside the A-pillars,
which can withstand a roof impact. This two-shelled structure
of the front roof frame in conjunction with the bonding of the
windscreen to the body results in very great stability even if a
one-sided load is applied to the roof frame.

An integral part of the safety concept is the automatic roll-over
bar which was realised in the SL for the first time in an
automobile and has the purpose of protecting the occupants’
survival space if the car should overturn. So as not to impair
open-top driving pleasure with a permanently installed, rigid
rollbar, a flexible solution was implemented by which the roll-
over protection was only activated if needed. When not in use
the safety bar, consisting of a U-shaped high-strength steel
tube foam-padded with polyurethane, was stored in front of
the soft-top compartment, closing off the rear compartment
towards the back and forming a level surface with the top well
lid. If a roll-over threatens, the sensor-controlled roll-over bar
is electromagnetically triggered, raised into position by the
force of pre-compressed springs within 0.3 seconds and
secured by pawls. The high-strength centre pillars, connected
over a large area with the rear longitudinal members, serve as
basis for mounting and as support. In addition to automatic
triggering in an emergency, the driver can raise and lower the
bar slowly by means of a switch, with a hydraulic element
carrying out the action.

Extremely sturdy integral seats

The most advanced feature of the interior design were the

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
integral seats of the SL, a technical masterpiece of design and    Page 60
an important part of the safety concept. The seat frame and
backrest are made of various special magnesium alloys
executed in thin-wall casting technique. They incorporate the
three-point seat belt with belt tensioner, the belt height
adjustment, coupled with the head restraint adjustment, and
electric stepper motors for adjusting reach, height and tilt of
the seat cushion and backrest. Another important feature is
the automatic positive locking of the backrest. The resistance
of the seat in a crash is many times higher than the forces that
could possibly arise.

Twenty patents for solutions to various details went into this
seat; its creator received the Paul Pietsch Prize and high prize
money as acknowledgement of his pioneering work in 1989.

Fully automatic folding soft top

The newly designed electrohydraulic fabric top with which the
SL is equipped as standard offers especially great operating
convenience. Simply by operating a switch, within 30 seconds
the soft top can be opened, folded and deposited in the
narrow soft-top compartment, or taken out of the compartment
and closed. Simultaneously, the side windows and the roll-
over bar are lowered and then returned to their starting
positions. Up and closed, the top is taut and smooth in all
directions – after all, it would be highly undesirable for the
vacuum caused above the roof by the car’s movement to
cause the top to balloon, and perfect operation of the roll-over
bar under the closed soft top must also remain guaranteed.

The energy to operate the soft top is provided by an
electrically-driven hydraulic pump located in the spare wheel
recess together with the oil reservoir. The microprocessor-
controlled motions are monitored with the aid of 17 limit
switches, and the hydraulic system has 15 pressure cylinders

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
and eleven solenoid valves.                                        Page 61

The exemplary solutions included the draught-stop. Unlike the
electro-hydraulic soft top it was not viewed as a high-tech
marvel, but its development also involved attention to complex
details. The draught-stop consists of a framed, breathable
screen which can be quickly attached to the roll-over bar and
which, when raised, appreciably enhances ride comfort when
the soft top is open by minimising wind noise and draught.
With the draught-stop, leather jackets and caps for driver and
front passenger are a thing of the past, as is tousled hair for
the ladies. Even high speeds no longer cause draught
problems, and open-top driving at low temperatures becomes
a real show. Today the innovative draught-stop, for which the
inventors hold four patents, is practically taken for granted in
many convertibles around the world.

The standard hardtop was now made of aluminium, and
despite larger windows weighed just 34 kilograms, about ten
kilos less than the coupé roof of the previous model. As it was,
consistent lightweight design and the extensive use of high-
strength sheet steel had enabled the creation of a bodyshell
weighing 405 kilograms, only 20 kilograms more than that of
the previous model, despite substantial improvements in
structural safety.

Electrically-operated windows and the electro-pneumatic
central locking system, both standard equipment in all SL
models, served comfort and convenience. The basic
equipment of the 500 SL also included electric steering
column adjustment for optimum adaptation of reach, height
and tilt to the driver.

A new suspension

The suspension conformed in principle to the familiar

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
suspension design of the Saloons of the 201 and 124 series.        Page 62
The new SL models thus had a coil-spring shock absorber
independent front suspension with anti-dive control and
wishbones, gas-filled shock absorbers and stabiliser, and a
modified multi-link independent rear suspension with anti-
squat and anti-dive control, coil springs, gas-filled shock
absorbers and stabiliser. This guaranteed excellent handling
characteristics. Many components were adapted to the altered
installation conditions, stresses and loads in the SL; the axle
geometry, too, was matched to the special demands on the
driving characteristics and comfort.

As an optional extra a newly-developed auxiliary system was
also available representing the most advanced suspension
technology realisable at the time, combining three
subsystems. The purpose of this level adjustment and
regulation on front and rear axle was to maintain a constant
vehicle level with the engine running. The automatic speed-
dependent level adjustment function lowered or raised the
vehicle level depending on the actual speed; for driving on
poor roads the level could be increased by 30 millimetres; at a
speed of more than 72 km/h the system adjusted to the
normal level, and above a speed of 122 km/h the vehicle was
lowered by 15 millimetres. The third component, the ADS
Adaptive Damping System, used adjustable shock absorbers
and a complex electronic control system to adapt the damping
fully automatically, as needed, and within fractions of a
second, to the driving state determined by five sensors. The
overall sprung mass vibrations were reduced in accordance
with vehicle load, road condition and style of driving. This was
virtually a preliminary stage of the active suspension that
reached production maturity in 1999 in the C 215-series Coupé.

In keeping with their sports credentials, all models of the
R 129 series were fitted as standard with 15-hole light-alloy
wheels (diameter: 40.64 centimetres) and wide-base tyres

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
size 225/55 ZR 16. The larger wheels compared with the               Page 63
previous models permitted installing large brakes appropriate
to the improved performance of the SL. New were the front
fixed-calliper disc brakes featuring four pistons, two pairs with
different diameters each. This design, used for the first time in
a Mercedes-Benz passenger car, ensures even brake pad
wear and better utilisation of the pad volume. The front and
rear disc brakes are internally ventilated. The ABS Anti-lock
Braking System was part of the standard configuration of all
three models.

From September 1995 on the Electronic Stability Program
ESP® was available for the SL 500 as an optional extra. It was
standard equipment for the SL 600. From December 1996
onwards the six-cylinder models could also be equipped with
ESP® if they were ordered with the electronically-controlled
automatic transmission available from June 1996. Another
world first in the interests of active safety also saw use at this
time: the BAS Brake Assist, installed as standard from
December 1996 in all models of the 129 and 140 series. BAS
is able to detect emergency braking and, in case of need,
automatically build up the maximum brake boosting effect
more rapidly than before. This distinctly reduced the braking
distance of the vehicle. In early April 1998, the Electronic
Stability Program ESP® was included as standard equipment
of the SL 500 and SL 60 AMG; in August 1999 it also became
a standard feature in the two six-cylinder models, SL 280 and
SL 320.

The first facelift

Visually and technically updated SL models were presented at
the Frankfurt International Motor Show in September 1995.
The facelifted variants were distinguished by a modified body
design, more extensive standard equipment, and more refined
engineering. The body design modifications were of a minor

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
nature and ranged from redesigned front and rear bumpers,          Page 64
transparent glass covers for the front turn indicators, and a
subtle change in the radiator grille, which now had six slats.
The side skirts, like the bumpers, were no longer painted in a
contrasting colour, but in the colour of the car, and had
modified breathers, a prominent feature serving to identify the
facelifted models. Other new items were the bichromatic tail
lights with their uniform red appearance, and 12-hole light-
alloy wheels, the standard for all SL models. As an optional
extra a glass sunroof with sunblind was available; it could be
fitted in place of the usual aluminium hardtop. In the interior,
the door trim, steering wheel and seat design were modified.

Headlamps with xenon gas discharge lamps, first introduced a
few months earlier in the 210-series E-Class, were now also
available for the SL. The new xenon lamps were twice as
powerful as the conventional halogen headlamps and ensured
better, brighter illumination of the roadway. Dynamic headlamp
range adjustment prevented dazzling of oncoming traffic.

A world first was introduced simultaneously in the SL-Class
and the S-Class. As first carmaker Mercedes-Benz was able
to present an improved cruise control which could regulate the
speed down to 30 km/h; the facelifted SL models were
equipped with this function as standard.

The second facelift

The second facelift took place in 1998, involving only a few
modifications to the design of the SL: the purpose of the
discreet stylistic touch-ups was to give the sports car an even
more dynamic appearance. This was achieved with a slightly
modified rear end in which the now monochromatic glass
covers of the tail lights presented themselves in a gentler look
with only three ribs. New oval tailpipe trim for the exhaust
system including adjustments on the bumper emphasised the

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
car’s sporty looks. A round shape was the dominant feature of        Page 65
the new exterior mirrors, adapted to the design of the SLK and
the most important external identifier of the facelifted models.
The door handles and detachable body parts of the facelifted
SL models had a high-gloss finish in the vehicle body colour.
The size and design of the wheels were modified, too: the SL
models now had newly designed five-hole light-alloy wheels
and rode on size 245/45 ZR 17 tyres as standard.

Proven engine technology right from the start

All three engines of the original SL portfolio in the R 129 series
feature a closed-loop catalytic emission control system as
standard. The entry-level engine was the two-valve-per-
cylinder six-cylinder engine (M 103) in the 300 SL (1989 to
1993) with an output of 140 kW (190 bhp). It had already
served well in the saloons of the 124- and 126-series, but was
revised for use in the SL. The most important improvements
were: a redesigned combustion chamber, which reduced the
emissions of unburned hydrocarbons, and a modified emission
control system. By eliminating the close-coupled primary
catalytic converter, which was subjected to high thermal
stresses, and enlarging the cross-section of the exhaust pipes
and the now two-pipe catalytic converter it was possible to
raise the rated output of the engine from 132 kW (179 bhp) to
140 kW (190 bhp). The top speed was 228 km/h; 9.3 seconds
was the figure stated for accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h.

From 1989 to 1993 there was also the 300 SL-24 model
featuring a newly designed four-valve-per-cylinder six-cylinder
engine (M 104). This engine was based on the M 103, and its
parts were mostly identical with those of its two-valve
counterpart. New were the four-valve cylinder head and map-
controlled electronic intake camshaft adjustment, used for the
first time at Mercedes-Benz. In conjunction with a higher
compression ratio and an electronic ignition system with anti-

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
knock control, the result was a 29 kW (39 bhp) increase in          Page 66
output over the M 103 to 170 kW (231 bhp). The performance
of the 300 SL-24 was thus noticeably sportier despite almost
identical fuel consumption (top speed: 240 km/h, 0 to
100 km/h: 8.4 seconds), but this had to be bought at an
additional cost of almost DM 10,000. The successors to these
two models in the years 1993 to 1998 were the SL 280
(2.8 litres displacement, 142 kW/193 bhp) and SL 320
(3.2 litres displacement, 170 kW/231 bhp), both with four-
valve-per-cylinder six-cylinder engines from the M 104 series.

The car that attracted particular attention at the 1989 Geneva
Motor Show was the 500 SL, which as top-of-the-range model
had a 240 kW (326 bhp) 5.0-litre four-valve-per-cylinder V8
engine (M 119), making it the most powerful Mercedes-Benz
production car at the time. The design of this engine was
based on the 5.0-litre M 117 light-alloy engine, which had
stood the test of over ten years’ time. Crankcase, crankshaft,
and connecting rods were extensively modified to obtain the
higher output figures. The two four-valve cylinder heads were
of new design and had adjustable intake camshafts as did the
four-valve-per-cylinder six-cylinder engine.

Decisive for the marked increase in output (an increase of
60 kW/82 bhp), along with conversion to the four-valve-per-
cylinder technology, were the anti-knock control, a new two-
box air filter with reduced suction resistance, and, not least of
all, changes in the emission control system: like the two six-
cylinder units the four-valve V8 had a two-pipe catalytic
converter with a larger cross-section instead of a primary
catalytic converter. This power potential gave the 500 SL
impressive performance to outclass its predecessor: from a
standing start the top-of-the-range model sped from 0 to
100 km/h in 6.2 seconds; its top speed was electronically
limited to 250 km/h.



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
In autumn 1992, when the 600 SL appeared, the engine of the        Page 67
500 SL underwent minor changes. The version of the four-
valve V8 with Bosch KE-Jetronic used previously was
replaced by the “standard-deck engine” which was already in
use in the 500 E (W 124) and in the Saloons and Coupés of
the S-Class (140 series). Characteristic features of the new
engine were its modified crankcase, whose deck height was
now identical with that of the 4.2-litre unit, and the Bosch LH-
Jetronic electronic injection system with mass airflow sensor.
As in the V12 engine, full load enrichment was dispensed with
here to reduce the pollutant emissions – a measure affecting
not only the SL, but all other car models with V12 and V8
engines, too. In the case of the 5.0-litre engine this meant an
output reduction of 4.4 kW (6 bhp) to 235 kW (320 bhp), a
loss which for all practical purposes was imperceptible in
terms of vehicle performance. From June 1993 onwards the
500 SL was called the SL 500 owing to a reform of the
nomenclature; this reversal of the model designations applied
as a matter of principle to all Mercedes-Benz models.

Enter the twelve-cylinder engine

In October 1992, the dream of many a friend of the SL came
true: three-and-a-half years after the presentation of the R 129
series, now it too became available with the 6.0-litre V12
engine which had already proven itself in the saloons and
coupés of the 140-series S-Class. To further reduce pollutant
emissions the injection system was modified and full-load
mixture enrichment dispensed with. In the 600 SL, June 1993
designated SL 600 and which was available from 1992 until
2001, the most powerful engine in the passenger car sales
range delivered 290 kW (394 bhp) and made brilliant
performance possible: at 6.1 seconds from a standstill to
100 km/h the acceleration was even better than that of the
500 SL; the top speed was likewise limited at 250 km/h. The
twelve-cylinder engine was the epitome of smoothness and

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
turbine-like power delivery. Above all, its imperturbability in   Page 68
high speed regions and the impressive and simultaneously
refined manner in which it reached top speed were
characteristic of the 600 SL.

The sizeable additional charge of more than DM 60,000 over
the 500 SL made its ownership a matter of prestige. But for
that the new top model of the series was equipped as
standard with a whole range of extras that could only be
ordered at an additional charge in the 500 SL. Apart from the
ADS Adaptive Damping System with level control on both front
and rear axles the basic equipment included, for example,
cruise control, automatically dimming interior mirror, headlamp
cleaning system, automatic climate control, leather
appointments and seat heating. Externally, only the model
designation badge and two “V12” badges in the vicinity of the
air outlets behind the front wheel arches distinguished the
600 SL from its sister models.

The 1995 facelift brought improvements to the engines and
transmissions of the SL 500 and SL 600 models. From
September 1995, both featured a five-speed automatic
transmission with torque converter lockup clutch, a completely
new development that replaced the previous hydraulically-
controlled transmission. The heart of this technical wonder
was an electronic transmission control that swiftly and
automatically adapted shifting behaviour to every driving
situation and permanently exchanged data with the electronic
engine management. Apart from these forward-looking
innovations the automatic transmission was appreciably more
compact and lighter than comparable five-speed units.

The engines were reworked once more to cut fuel
consumption and pollutant emissions further. For this purpose
the 5.0-litre V8 engine was equipped with a modified
crankshaft, optimised valve timing, lighter pistons, individual

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
ignition coils for each cylinder as well as an improved           Page 69
electronic engine management system called Motronic
ME 1.0. Fewer changes were made to the design of the V12
power plant and merely concerned the configuration of the
ignition coils and the electronic engine management system.
As a result of the various modifications to the engine and the
use of the new automatic transmission, it was possible to
reduce the fuel consumption of the SL 500 and SL 600 by ten
per cent while maintaining the output unchanged. From June
1996 the new electronically-controlled automatic transmission
also became available for the SL 280 and SL 320 six-cylinder
models, as an optional extra for the 2.8-litre variant, and as
standard equipment for the SL 320.

V-engines instead of in-line engines

The 1998 facelift ushered in the V-engine generation with six
and eight cylinders, which replaced – in the SL, too – the six-
cylinder in-line engines of the M 104 series and the V8 unit of
series M 119. The engines featured three-valve-per-cylinder
technology and dual ignition for better emission values. They
were also characterised by lower production costs.

Outputs ranged from 150 kW (204 bhp) in the SL 280 (M 112,
top speed 232 km/h, 0 to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds) to 165 kW
(224 bhp) in the SL 320 (M 112, 238 km/h, 8.4 seconds) to
225 kW (306 bhp) in the SL 500 (M 113, 250 km/h,
6.5 seconds). The top-of-the-range SL 600 continued to use
the tried-and-tested twelve-cylinder engine (M 120) with an
output of 290 kW (394 bhp). The SL 280 was now the only
model of the series still available with a five-speed manual
transmission; all sister models had automatic transmission as
standard.

Mercedes-AMG GmbH



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
Those still unsatisfied with the output and prestige afforded by   Page 70
the eight-and twelve-cylinders could turn to AMG in
Affalterbach, not far from Stuttgart. Since 1990 a cooperation
agreement existed between AMG and Daimler-Benz AG. From
1 January 1999, AMG became a 51-per cent subsidiary of the
then DaimlerChrysler AG and adopted the name Mercedes-
AMG GmbH.

AMG offered power-hungry customers several alternatives.
When the first vehicles developed on the basis of the
cooperation agreement came out on the market in 1993, the
first SL model was the SL 60 AMG (M 119, 6.0-litre V8,
280 kW/381 bhp), which was produced until 1998; a purely
AMG version with the same engine had existed earlier, from
1991 to 1993, under the name AMG 500 SL 6.0.

Models SL 55 AMG (M 113, 5.5-litre V8, 260 kW/354 bhp,
1999 to 2001) and the top-of-the-range model with twelve-
cylinder engine, the SL 73 AMG (M 120, 7.3-litre V12,
386 kW/525 bhp, 1999 to 2001), followed. The latter's
maximum torque of enormous 750 newton metres propelled
the vehicle from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds. The top
speed of both cars was electronically limited to 250 km/h, but
the limit could be neutralised on customer request. All power
transmission components of the AMG models, from automatic
transmission to rear axle, were adapted to the higher loads.

The AMG bodystyling package with fog lamps integrated in the
bumper emphasised the terse dynamics of the sports car even
more, without altering the clear lines of its design. The large
AMG light-alloy wheels (diameter: 45.72 centimetres) added a
further dash of unmistakable sportiness to the looks.

The special models of the R 129 series

Special SL models became available for the first time in the

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
R 129 series. Extended and modified appointments                     Page 71
distinguished them from the series-produced cars. This made
them exclusive, offered a price advantage, and boosted SL
sales at the same time. Between 1995 and 2001 there were
17 special series built in differing numbers, from ten to 1515
units.

In 1995 the “Special Edition” debuted with a production run of
630 units. It was available as SL 280, SL 320 and SL 500. Its
distinguishing features included an exterior finished in brilliant
silver, combined with red soft-top fabric.

The same year the “Mille Miglia” special series was released,
with VIP and escort vehicles of the Mille Miglia Storica in Italy.
There were a total of ten Mille Miglia units based on the
Special Edition, but with further distinctive features such as an
unobtrusive black-and-white chequered flag on the
ornamental grilles of the front wings.

In 1998, another “Special Edition” arrived, available for all
models except the SL 60 AMG; 500 units were built. Obsidian
black was chosen as exterior paint finish; the leather seats
were in designo red with black topstitching. The SL 280 was
equipped with the five-speed automatic transmission as
standard.

A further small VIP series was released on the occasion of the
1999 Mille Miglia Storica. It was based on the SL 55 AMG and
ten units were built. A year later, the “SL Edition” stimulated
the brand’s sports car sales; 708 units were built – the third-
highest volume for an R 129 SL special series, and available
as SL 320 and SL 500.

The “Final Edition”, dating from 2000 – 674 units were
produced (all models with the exception of the SL 55 AMG and
SL 73 AMG). They already heralded the approaching

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
discontinuation of the series. Special VIP models were again      Page 72
available that year: the “Formula One Edition” (20 units) based
on the SL 500 on the occasion of the Indianapolis Formula
One race, and 12 units of the “Mille Miglia” of 2000. In 2001,
the last special “Mille Miglia” model in the R 129 series
followed, with 13 units based on the SL 600 built this time.

Various special series were created upon the request of
individual markets, for instance the “40th Anniversary
Roadster Edition” (USA, 1997, 750 units, models SL 320 and
SL 500, and 35 models AMG SL 60 Limited Edition), in
celebration of the coming of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
Roadster in 1957; “designo MB UK” (England, 1998,
150 units), “designo MB Japan” (Japan, 1998, 67 units),
“designo Vintage Edition UK” (England, 2000, 49 units,
models SL 280 and SL 320), “designo Heritage Edition UK”
(England, 2000, 49 units, models SL 280 and SL 320), “Silver
Arrow Edition USA” (USA, 2001, 1515 units of model SL 500,
100 units of model SL 600) and “Silver Arrow Edition UK”
(England, 2001, 100 vehicles of model 500 SL).

The successor arrives

In July 2001, the Mercedes-Benz SL 500, the first model of the
new SL series, the R 230 series, celebrated its world
première. In the same month the last of a grand total of
204,940 units of the R 129 series rolled off the assembly line
at the Bremen plant. In terms of overall volume the first SL
manufactured in Bremen was not quite as successful as its
predecessor from the R 107 series (237,287 units); but if
average annual production is compared, the R 129 series with
some 16,500 units is very clearly in the lead. The most
successful model of this series was the five-litre variant
equipped with the four-valve V8 engine M 119, of which a total
of 79,827 were produced from 1988 to 1998. The rarest
variant by far is the SL 280 with V6 engine, which served as

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
entry-level model for the series from 1997 and rolled off the     Page 73
assembly line only 1704 times.

The R 129 series in the press

Shortly after the première of the Mercedes-Benz SL 500 “auto
motor und sport”, Germany, No. 16/1989, wrote: “Altogether
the new SL cannot be topped for passive safety by any sports
car. Apart from its sophisticated body structure and the
optionally available driver and front passenger airbags, the
automatically extending roll-over bar dispels fear of
overturning – though a little concern remains, of course,
because ‘auto motor und sport’ did not confront the function
with the worst-case scenario.”

The American motor magazine “Road & Track”, No. 3/1993,
tested the twelve-cylinder model Mercedes-Benz 600 SL:
“Drive the 600 SL, however, and the change is dramatic.
Although the 500 SL has everything we expect from a
Mercedes (a 0-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds, fine handling and
safety), the V12 just adds another dimension to this luxury
sports car. Some of that is pure power. Time to 60 mph – by
our watch – drops another 0.4 sec., but what impresses most
is all that torque lying in wait when you kick the 4-speed down
a gear or two. Add the matter of smoothness – the
smoothness of power that builds strongly rather than erupts,
and the aural smoothness of the engine's hum in the
background, even at full throttle.”

In a test report “auto motor und sport”, Germany, No. 16/1998,
wrote about the Mercedes-Benz SL 500: “For nine years the
Mercedes SL 500 has embodied a highly cultivated blend of
performance, safety and comfort. The standard automatic
transmission and the perfected coexistence of two roofs are a
part of this philosophy.”



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
Technical highlights of the Mercedes-Benz SL, R 129                 Page 74
series

•   Automatic roll-over bars (deployment in 0.3 seconds)
•   High-strength integral seats
•   Drag coefficient cd = 0.32 (with hard top)
•   Fully-automatic electrohydraulic folding top
•   A world première: the draught-stop
•   ADS Adaptive Damping System (optional)
•   Fixed-calliper disc brakes
•   First twelve-cylinder engine in an SL (1992)
•   ESP® Electronic Stability Program (1995)
•   BAS Brake Assist (1996)
•   Cruise control down to speeds of 30 km/h (1996)

Production figures

Model                  Internal    Production period:   Number of
                       designation pre-production       units
                                   series
                                   to end
SL 280                 R 129 E 28 1993-1998             10,319

SL 280*                R 129 E 28 1997-2001             1,704

300 SL                 R 129 E 30 1988-1993             12,020

300 SL-24              R 129 E 30 1988-1993             26,984

SL 320                 R 129 E 32 1993-1998             32.223

SL 320*                R 129 E 32 1997-2001             7,070
500 SL/SL
                       R 129 E 50 1988-1998             79,827
500
500 SL**               R 129 E 50 1997-2001             23,704
600 SL/SL              R 129 E 60 1991-2001             11,089
600
SL 55 AMG              R 129 E 55 1999-2001             ***



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
SL 60 AMG              R 129 E 60 1993-1998       ***       Page 75

SL 73 AMG              R 129 E 73 1999-2001       ***

Total                                             204,940

* With V6 engine.
** With M 113 engine.
*** Not registered separately.




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
Open the way for the vario-roof: Mercedes-                            Page 76
Benz SL, R 230 series (2001-2012)

• Open-top car and coupé in one – the roof folds in 16
  seconds
• Equipped with the most advanced dynamic handling
  systems
• Lightweight body with a high proportion of aluminium


The R 230-series SL was presented to the press in July 2001
at Deichtorhallen in Hamburg. Owing to a combination of
advanced electronic chassis systems which was unique in the
world at the time, the R 230 offered an outstanding driving
experience coupled with highest levels of operating safety and
so set trends for sports cars and car building in general.

At market launch, the first model available was the Mercedes-
Benz SL 500 with an output of 225 kW (305 bhp). In autumn
2001, it was joined by the SL 55 AMG with a supercharged V8
engine and 350 kW (476 bhp). In 2002, the SL 350, featuring
a 180 kW (245 bhp) 3.7-litre V6 engine, followed, and finally in
January 2003 Mercedes-Benz introduced the SL 600 with the
powerful 368 kW (500 bhp) 5.5-litre V12 biturbo engine as its
new flagship model.

The extensive standard equipment of the SL included, for
example, leather-upholstered integral seats plus memory
function for the electric seat and steering wheel adjustment
(additionally stored in the electronic ignition key); multifunction
steering wheel, automatic climate control and stereo car radio.
As optional extras, innovative assistance systems like the
DISTRONIC proximity control system, the TELEAID automatic
emergency call system, the COMAND control and display
system or an electronic tyre pressure monitoring system were
available.



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
Leather, fine wood and aluminium are the materials used to          Page 77
create the typical exclusivity and perceived value of the SL.
There was a choice of two types of leather, four high-quality
trim variants and five appointment colours. Matt-finished
chrome framed the four individual, classic chronometer-style
instruments on the dashboard and was also to be found in
other details of the interior.

The design combines tradition and future

The design of the R 230 series blends tradition and future
through distinctive details. For instance, the air intakes in the
front wings take up a typical feature of the 300 SL from the
1950s. The thin, wing-like segments on these side air
intakes – called fins by experts – also are a reminiscence. The
designers use this stylistic element additionally to give a
sporty touch to the grilles of the openings on the bonnet.

The horizontally elongated radiator grille has always been an
unmistakable feature of the SL. The R 230 series took up this
tradition, but showed it in an up-to-date interpretation,
thrusting a louvred radiator grille with a flatter slope than
previously into the wind. This, in combination with the more
pronounced wedge shape of the body, made the front end
appear very dynamic and powerful. The four louvres
surrounded the Mercedes star, which in its accustomed size
and position clearly indicated the brand to which the two-
seater belonged.

These typical traditional SL features harmonised with the new
elements, the headlamps, for example: on each side two of
the familiar four “eyes” merged into one without giving up their
basic oval shape. The up-to-date clear-lens look effectively
enhanced the standard bi-xenon headlamps and gave an
additional touch of brilliance to the front-end design.



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
The long bonnet took up the curves of the headlamps and              Page 78
carried them towards the rear in a terse arch. The design of
the muscular wings also evolved from this ensemble. The soft
lines of the bonnet and wings merged smoothly into the taut
lines that gave structure to the sides of the body at the
shoulderline. Another line developed in the lower part of the
wings from the verve generated by the side air intakes. It gave
a formal hold to the large, quiescent surfaces of the doors,
creating a visual bond with the rear end. The steeply raked
windscreen emphasised the sports car character, accentuating
its low, wedge-shaped silhouette.

16 seconds of roof acrobatics

Unlike its predecessors the R 230-series SL always carries its
hardtop with it. The integration of the SL’s steel vario-roof into
the car's flowing lines is proof of the car's high design quality.

At the push of a button, or via remote control, the roof can be
opened or closed within 16 seconds. An extremely complex
swivelling mechanism ensures that the three roof components
disappear into the upper part of the boot in a space-saving
way. Underneath it, 235 litres of luggage space are available.
With the top up, the vehicle offers 317 litres of space,
including the luggage box in the spare wheel recess: that
amounts to 52 litres more than the previous model. Since mid-
2002, a glass sunroof variant is also available.

Further features underscored the impression of dynamism and
elegance created by the R 230 series, for example the body
with the powerfully shaped front apron, the muscular curves
and the pronounced wedge shape, but also stylistic elements
like the distinctive outline of the side skirts, the wide wheels
(diameter: 43.18 centimetres) or the oval tailpipes of the
exhaust system. All body parts – from door handle to
bumper – were painted the colour of the car body so that from

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
a formal viewpoint and in terms of its colour the sports car          Page 79
appeared cast in one piece. This also applied to the rear end,
characterised by large, triangular-shaped tail lights. Here
again instead of a play of colours, there was elegant
consistency: the tail light lenses were a uniform red – special
filters in front of the reflectors ensured that the turn indicators
still appeared yellow and the reversing light white.

SBC™ Sensotronic Brake Control

The technical innovations of the R 230 series included the
Sensotronic Brake Control SBC™ electrohydraulic braking
system, which had its première in this series. It operated in
conjunction with the ESP® Electronic Stability Program and the
Active Body Control ABC active suspension system, which
minimises body movements and any tendency to skid when
cornering and braking.

Sensotronic Brake Control SBC™ was also a gateway to the
world of future “by wire” systems that no longer transmit the
driver’s commands mechanically or hydraulically, but
electronically – by cable. The most important performance
characteristics of SBC™ include extremely dynamic brake
pressure build-up and a reliable “feel” for driver and vehicle
behaviour thanks to sophisticated sensor technology. For
example, the system interprets a rapid shifting of the driver’s
foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal as an emergency
situation, automatically increases the pressure in the brake
lines and simultaneously positions the brake pads on the
brake discs so that they can grab the disc without delay and
with full force when the driver depresses the brake pedal.
Thanks to this, the stopping distance is three per cent shorter
in an emergency stop. In addition, thanks to variable brake
force distribution, SBC™ affords more safety when braking on
bends or on difficult surfaces, depending on wheel contact
force and slip. Owing to greater dynamics and precision

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
SBC™ also enhances the performance of the BAS Brake                  Page 80
Assist and the ESP® Electronic Stability Program.

This package of highly efficient electronic control systems
initiated a revolutionary trend in automobile manufacture in the
area of chassis, handling safety and driving dynamics.

Suspension with ABC Active Body Control

These systems are supported by wheel suspensions which
react sensitively in conjunction with the ABC Active Body
Control. At the front a state-of-the-art four-link system ensures
optimal road roar and tyre vibration characteristics, precise
wheel location and steering. The lower elements of the front
axle, the steering gear of the rack-and-pinion steering, and the
engine mounts are connected with an aluminium frame-type
integral support which also celebrated its première in the new
SL.


In the SL of the R 230 series, the multi-link independent rear
suspension, still unsurpassed for wheel location, is made
entirely of aluminium for the first time, including wheel carriers
and sub-frame. To improve the oversteer/understeer
characteristics even more, the axle geometry was modified in
detail.

Safety redefined

Ever since the “Pagoda” at the latest, the abbreviation SL has
been synonymous with pioneering achievements in the areas
of active and passive safety in open-top sports cars. With an
entirely new, comprehensive concept the R 230-series SL
clearly outstrips the previous safety standards to make it a
model in the area of vehicle safety in particular for sports cars.
The concept makes allowance for all aspects of active and
passive vehicle safety – from accident avoidance with the aid

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
of electronic handling dynamics systems like SBC™, Active           Page 81
Body Control ABC, Brake Assist BAS, acceleration skid
control ASR, or ESP®, to the structural integrity of the body
with a high level of passenger cell rigidity in every conceivable
type of accident.

Some of the things contributing to occupant protection
together with the high-strength body structure: two-stage
airbags for driver and front passenger, new head/thorax bags
in the doors, newly developed integral seats, high-
performance belt tensioners, belt force limiters, or the sensor-
controlled roll-over bar, which goes into action, whether the
vario-roof is open or closed.

In the event of an accident, the TELEAID automatic
emergency call system (optional extra) developed by
Mercedes-Benz ensures that emergency services and police
are automatically alarmed and guided to the accident scene
by satellite navigation.

Safety development between rating tests and reality

The R 230-series SL has passed the most rigorous crash tests
such as an offset frontal impact at 64 km/h or the 90-degree
side collision at 50 km/h, both of which are included in the
European NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) procedure
and which make the highest demands on the vehicle
structure, especially in the case of open-top cars. The
engineers devoted just as much attention to the aspect of
ease of repair, which they investigated in frontal and rear
impacts at a collision speed of 15 km/h in each case. The
body structure of the SL affords the greatest possible safety to
occupants and meets the objective of reasonably priced
repair.

In a frontal or rear collision at speeds above 15 km/h, the
bodyshell structure of the SL provides an exemplary high level

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
of occupant protection thanks to many innovative details.         Page 82
Around 33 per cent of the bodyshell is made of high-strength
sheet metal affording maximum resistance coupled with
minimum material thickness. All components crucial to crash
safety and body stiffness are made from high-strength steel
sheet. The fuel tank is made of sheet steel and is located in a
protected position above the rear axle.

Fuel economy a high priority

Fuel economy in the R 230-series SL is a topic which runs like
a thread through many chapters of the design specifications.
The lightweight body plays a decisive role in achieving a
favourable fuel economy in all the vehicle variants: bonnet,
front wings, doors, boot lid, tank partition and other
components are made from aluminium; in particular the
1.40 metre long bonnet is a remarkable lightweight
component.

The sophisticated aerodynamics of the smooth body including
underbody, designed to reduce drag, helps to save fuel as well
as minimise noise. The drag coefficient value of 0.29 for the
closed car is a very remarkable figure; in the previous R 129
(with hardtop) it was still 0.32. The open-top SL of the R 230
series has a cd of only 0.34 (R 129: cd = 0.40 with the side
windows closed).

Debut with the SL 500

In summer 2001 the SL 500, featuring a 5-litre V8 engine
(M 113) delivering 225 kW (306 bhp) and torque of
460 newton metres debuted first. It was one of the most
powerful engines of its segment, did clearly better than the
stringent EU 4 emission standards required, and accelerated
the SL 500 from 0 to 100 km/ in 6.3 seconds. The top speed
was 250 km/h (electronically limited). The proven five-speed


Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
automatic transmission with electronic control, two shift              Page 83
programs and torque converter lockup clutch were standard
equipment in the SL 500. A newly developed touch shift
permitted very fast manual gear-changes.

In September 2001, the SL 55 AMG followed with its première
at the IAA International Motor Show in Frankfurt on the Main.
Equipped with a new V8 supercharged engine, it was the most
powerful Mercedes-Benz passenger car at the time. The 5.5-
litre power plant (M 113) developed 350 kW and delivered a
maximum, constant torque of 700 newton metres from
2650 rpm to 4500 rpm. The car spurted from 0 to 100 km/h in
4.7 seconds; its electronically-limited top speed was 250 km/h.
The engine was combined with a five-speed automatic
transmission including steering wheel gearshift buttons.

The AMG version was distinguishable on the outside from the
SL 500 among other things by bumpers with an even more
powerful styling, distinctively shaped side skirts, dark-tinted tail
lights, exclusive multi-spoke wheels (diameter:
45.72 centimetres) and four chrome-plated exhaust pipes.

In the interior, the more firmly upholstered integral seats with a
special perforation and coloured topstitching, high-quality
aluminium trim elements with a sand-cast look, and
dashboard instruments with light dials, silver-coloured symbol
discs and red needles emphasised the character of this sports
car.

In 2002, the SL 350 followed, with a 180 kW (245 bhp) 3.7-
litre V6 engine (M 112). It accelerated the car in 7.2 seconds
from 0 to 100 km/h and achieved an electronically limited top
speed of 250 km/h. It featured SEQUENTRONIC automated
six-speed manual transmission as standard, operated via two
shift paddles on the steering wheel. The electronically-
controlled five-speed automatic transmission with touch shift

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
was available as an optional extra.                                Page 84

A V12 engine in the flagship model

In January 2003, Mercedes-Benz presented the SL 600 with a
368 kW (500 bhp) 5.5-litre V12 biturbo engine (M 275) as new
flagship of the series. It produced a tremendous torque of 800
newton metres, available already at 1800 rpm and constant up
to 3600 rpm. The newly-developed Mercedes-Benz twelve-
cylinder engine with two turbochargers and air-to-water
intercooler, three-valve-per-cylinder technology, alternating-
current twin-spark ignition and other high-tech innovations is
one of the most advanced passenger car engines in the world.
It affords effortless superiority in any driving situation. The
SL 600 needed only 4.7 seconds to go from 0 to 100 km/h. Its
top speed was electronically limited to 250 km/h. From the
outside the SL 600 can be recognised by a radiator grille with
discreet chrome inlays, silver-painted brake callipers, V12
emblems on the side air intakes, bi-xenon headlamps and
exclusive light-alloy wheels. The front wheels have tyres of
size 255/40 R 18, the rear wheels tyres of size 285/35 R 18.

Only 12 units: SL 350 “Mille Miglia Edition 2003”

Based on the SL 350, in June 2003 Mercedes-Benz presented
the “Mille Miglia Edition 2003” special model to commemorate
the legendary road race. Only 12 of these were built. They
were painted in a special “Silver Arrow” metallic finish and had
matt-finished aluminium shoulderline trim strips, beautifully
designed light-alloy wheels (diameter: 45.72 centimetres),
wide-base tyres of size 255/40 ZR 18 (front) and
285/35 ZR 18 (rear) and “Mille Miglia” badges in the air outlet
grilles of the front wings and on the boot lid.

The vario-roof of the special model was made of glass and
gave the passengers a panoramic view. The special features

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
in the interior included two-tone nappa leather appointments:       Page 85
the seats were in “classic red”, an accent colour already used
in the legendary SL sports cars of the 1950s. The roof was
lined with soft Alcantara, and the trim elements on the centre
console and the doors were aluminium with a matt-finished
surface. With the aid of a new laser technique the designers
worked the “Mille Miglia” logo and even the course of the
thousand-mile race into the leather covers of the head
restraints.

Other standard equipment items on the special model
included the control and display system COMAND, the
parking assist PARKTRONIC, multicontour backrests, CD
changer and sound system. The V6 engine of the special
model was combined with a five-speed automatic
transmission as standard.

A special model on the 50th birthday

In 2004, Mercedes-Benz celebrated the appearance of the
300 SL in 1954 with the special model “Edition 50”, available
as SL 350 and SL 500 in a series limited to a total of 550 units.
The visual highlights included a matt silver-painted radiator
grille with chrome trim strips, light-alloy wheels (diameter:
45.72 centimetres) in turbine design, shoulderline trim strips in
a high-sheen finish, a draught-stop frame with high-sheen
finish and darkened tail lights.

In the interior, the instrument cluster was trimmed with a
leather/Alcantara combination. The seats, luxury climatised
seats with multicontour function as standard, had nappa
leather covers; the head restraints showed a lasered
“Edition 50” logo. The trim elements in the interior were made
of a decorative new aluminium material or, alternatively, black
ash wood. Depending on personal taste, if desired the leather
appointments also could be had in two-tone condor

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
silver/black or single-tone designo black with topstitching in   Page 86
quartz. A comprehensive range of standard equipment was
included: for example, the COMAND APS radio and
navigation system with CD changer and surround sound
system, but also bi-xenon headlamps with headlamp cleaning
system and PARKTRONIC.

In 2004, the new top-of-the-range model, the SL AMG was
launched. Powered by an AMG 6.0-litre V12 biturbo engine
producing 450 kW (612 bhp) and a torque of 1000 newton
metres, it was the mightiest production roadster in the world.
Impressive proof of the exceptional power of the AMG twelve-
cylinder engine was the fact that it could accelerate from a
standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds. In 2004, the V12
biturbo engine won the “International Engine of the Year”
award in the category “Best Performance Engine”.

2006: facelift for the R 230 series

Five years after its launch, Mercedes-Benz upgraded the SL.
The 2006 Geneva Motor Show was chosen as debut event.
Engines, drive system and suspension in particular were given
a sportier tuning.

The V8 engine (M 273) of the SL 500 was a new design; it
now had a displacement of 5.5 litres and developed an output
of 285 kW (387 bhp). It accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in just
5.4 seconds. In the USA the vehicle was sold as the SL 550.


The six-cylinder engine of the SL 350 was a new
development, too. The 200 kW (272 bhp) V6 power plant
(M 272) delivered around 11 per cent more output while
enabling fuel savings of more than 1 litre per 100 kilometres.
The combined NEDC consumption was 10.3 litres per
100 kilometres. The SL 350 accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in
6.6 seconds, making it over half a second faster than the

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
previous model.                                                   Page 87


At the top of the model range was the V12 biturbo engine of
the SL 600. Its output rose to 380 kW; the maximum torque, to
830 newton metres. With the twelve-cylinder engine this SL
sped from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds.

The V6 and V8 models of the facelifted SL-Class are
equipped as standard by Mercedes-Benz with the 7G-
TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission. The actively
regulated suspension system Active Body Control ABC
(standard equipment for the SL 500 and SL 600, optionally
available for the SL 350) was further improved. It now reduces
body movements in dynamic handling situations by as much
as 60 per cent versus the previous model.

The body design was discreetly updated to include new
bumpers with three large openings for cooling air, a more
pronounced wedge shape, and fog lamps with chromed trim
rings. The radiator grille now had three louvres with chrome
elements painted matt silver. New light-alloy wheels made for
an impressive side view. The horizontally-divided tail lights
with red-and-white covers in clear-lens look made the muscular
rear end of the SL appear even broader.

The interior was also redone showing, for example, leather
upholstery with a softer grain, new interior colours, aluminium
trim elements with a prism pattern, and metal door sills
embossed with Mercedes-Benz lettering.


From spring 2007, for models SL 350 and SL 500 a Sports
package has been available for 2,975 euros extra. It sets the
tone in the interior with contrasting topstitching in silver,
perforated leather and aluminium trim elements. The look is
determined among other things by large five-spoke light-alloy
wheels (diameter: 48.26 centimetres) behind which silver-

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
painted brake callipers are visible. Perforated brake discs at      Page 88
the rear conduce to excellent deceleration. The 7G-TRONIC
Sport automatic transmission with shift paddles on the steering
wheel is also included in the configuration. Furthermore, the
distinctive visual features include darkened tail lights.

In 2008, a comprehensive package of refinements was then
applied to the R 230 series. The proven vehicle range was
retained but supplemented by the SL 280 (170 kW/231 bhp)
with a 3.0-litre V6 engine (M 272), so that there are now two
six-cylinder models; both engines are based on the same
basic unit and have the same engine number. Also available is
the SL 63 AMG, whose naturally aspirated V8 engine (M 156)
develops 386 kW (525 bhp); as transmission it has the
AMG Speedshift MCT, featuring a so-called wet start-up clutch
instead of a torque converter.

The most conspicuous element of the model refinement
package is the new front design: it adapts the SL to the
brand’s current car design and focuses attention on a broad
and thus very dominant radiator grille. It enhances the
powerful look of the SL face, which appears surprisingly new
but at the same time very familiar. Powerdomes on the bonnet
enhance the vehicle’s strong visual impression. At the rear a
newly designed diffusor-look bumper creates associations with
racing.

The list of further refinements for the facelifted SL-Class is
long. The technical innovations now include the optional
Direct-Steer system, the Intelligent Light System with five light
functions adapted to typical driving situations, and the
AIRSCARF® neck-level heating invented by Mercedes-Benz,
which can extend the open-top driving season into the cooler
time of the year.




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
Exclusive high-performance coupé for the highly                    Page 89
discerning

In November 2008, Mercedes-Benz presented the SL 65 AMG
Black Series as an exclusive top-of-the-line model of the
R 230 series. This high-performance coupé was developed in
the AMG PERFORMANCE STUDIO and offered thoroughbred
motorsport engineering. The AMG 6.0-litre V12 biturbo engine
delivered 493 kW (670 bhp) and 1000 newton metres of
torque. As comparison: the SL 65 AMG, on which this top
model was based, was powered by an AMG 6.0-litre V12
biturbo engine with an output of 450 kW (612 bhp). The
SL 65 AMG Black Series could accelerate from a standstill to
100 km/h in 3.8 seconds, reaching a speed of 200 km/h in just
11.0 seconds on its way to its top speed of 320 km/h
(electronically limited).

Meanwhile, the SL 63 AMG was a sensation on the world’s
most famed racetracks: in the 2008 and 2009 Formula 1
seasons the car acted as official F1™ Safety Car. A newly-
developed AMG sports exhaust system with a larger diameter
and special rear silencers enabled the AMG high-rev naturally-
aspirated engine to breathe with even greater freedom – and
sound even sportier. The AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed
sports transmission provided sheer driving dynamism with
steering wheel gearshift paddles enabling gear changes in
100 milliseconds.

A specially-developed coil suspension enabled optimum
racetrack performance, allowing an individual suspension set-
up for each specific track. Perfect traction, no matter what the
weather conditions, was guaranteed by the combination of
three-stage ESP® and a rear-axle differential with a 30-per
cent blocking effect. Larger-dimensioned and additional
coolers for engine and transmission oil, coolant water and



Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
power steering ensured absolute reliability despite even            Page 90
tropical outside temperatures.

The R 230 series carried on the extraordinarily successful
history of the Mercedes-Benz SL in the 21st century. A total of
170,000 customers have chosen one of the sports cars
assembled at the Bremen facilities. In the spring of 2012, the
new SL, of the R 231 series will see its market launch,
representing the next generation of these SL production sports
cars.

The R 230 series in the press

Regarding the Mercedes-Benz SL of the R 230 series, “auto
motor und sport”, Germany, No. 12/2004, noted in a test report
on the SL 500: “Lots of comfort, lots of safety, solid design, a
pinch of sportiness, horsepower à la carte, plenty of fresh air
and, as of most recently, a hardtop in the boot – this rare
blend secures the two-seater a special position that makes it
virtually unrivalled.”

“Autorevue”, Austria, No. 7/2008, described the stages of
open-top driving in a Mercedes-Benz SL 350 in these words:
“Progressive climate stages on a cool evening: first you raise
the front and rear side windows, then you ask the passenger
to put up the draught-stop. Then you might switch off the seat
ventilation and switch on the seat heater. The air conditioner
radiates basic warmth. The Airscarf – that seductive neck-level
heating system that we miss on the sofa in our living room –
follows, in three heat levels. Last stage is the big roof number,
amazingly graceful. And everything’s just fine.”

Shortly after the debut of the Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG
Black Series “Road & Track”, USA, No. 1/2009, wrote: “Will
anyone buy an SL 65 AMG Black Series for street use?
Probably not. But for those few who might, the car is quite

Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
civilized on the road. The ride is firm, but not overly so. To truly   Page 91
appreciate the incredible prowess of the SL Black Series, take
the car to the track. Its sheer power and speed, together with
confidence-inspiring handling, make it one of the most
satisfying supercars in the world.”

Technical highlights of the Mercedes-Benz SL, R 230
series

• Vario-roof with sophisticated folding mechanism and a
  folding time of 16 seconds
• Roll-over bar retains its full functionality even with the vario-
  roof closed
• Electrohydraulically controlled SBC™ Sensotronic Brake
  Control brake system
• Suspension with ABC Active Body Control
• Innovative head-thorax airbags in the doors
• Drag coefficient cd = 0.29 (with closed roof)
• Use of lightweight components for optimum fuel economy




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
                                                             Page 92




Further information from Mercedes-Benz is available on the
internet:
www.media.daimler.com and www.mercedes-benz.com as
well as
www.mercedes-benz-classic.com




Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany
Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:0
posted:2/23/2012
language:
pages:92