THE MERCEDES 300 SL: IGNITING THE FIRE OF MERCEDES POST-WAR HOPE

Mercedes in 1954 reality check: Mercedes is actually losing money. Rapidly.

9w ago
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Mercedes was in a mess during the late 1940s. Its factories have been carpet-bombed by Allied bombers, the post-war anti-German sentiment was still lingering and worst still Mercedes is being outclassed and competed in America.

America is where the money is at. Take it as how like China during the present day where potential consumers are just hungry to buy new products. That is America and it is the same with the car industry too.

Mercedes in America however, was seen as a dull, slow but practical car with its genteel and upright saloon cars such as the W186.

mmmm flashy

mmmm flashy

But on a positive note, there is a little car that is tearing it up in Europe and it's the little silver bullet called the W194 and boy that car did cause a roar. Scoring victories at the 1952 Lemans, the Nurburgring and the Carrera Panamericana. It even ended up in top 5 positions in the Mille Miglia which was definitely the most challenging road race ever. It is like climbing Everest

The Mercedes W194

The Mercedes W194

And more good news! America was hungry for the W194 too. The US Mercedes dealer Max Hoffman decided that the W194 should be transformed into a road car where Americans can taste not only a piece of Mercedes racing prestige but also getting that exoticness of the silver babe. It seems like once you own a Gullwing you are a man who made it in life.

Packed with a 3.0 L straight-six M186 engine 220 horsepower loaded with get this, a 'Bosch mechanical direct fuel injection system'. This fuel injection system was derived from the Messerschmitt BF 109 fighter plane's technology and shrunk its size and re-engineer it into the 300 SL's engine giving the car 50% more power. All the air just got sucked out of the Mercedes showroom when the 300 SL was coming with fuel injection. This arguably made this car the first-ever supercar. Fuel injection won't be in cars for at least another 50 years. 50! Mercedes was just leaving its competitors in the Californian dust.

SL stood for 'super light' as a result of its tubular frame construction that only weighs 82 toasters or kilograms. 0-60 just under 9 seconds, that may seem slow in 2021 standards but the closest car any man or woman saw that quick would probably be a Ferrari 250 Europa GT. But frankly I'd take the silver star over the prancing horse in this case. Oh and by the way its top speed is 163 mph. That is Mulsanne straights speed, just let all the facts sink in.

But the 300 SL is far from a perfect car. Those iconic gullwing doors, well you will knock your head when getting in and out of the car if you aren't ducking enough hence it is a pain to just going or getting out. The rear swing axles makes the 300 SL a nightmare to drive around corners at relatively high speed as it has the tendency of swinging the rear end of the car thus causing the whole thing to spin, it is no surprise it has a reputation of being a 'widow-maker'. And finally the boot space is laughable because it is taken up by the spare wheel. To add insult to injury, customers do get an option of 2 suitcases as a package with the Gullwing with the same printed colour as the interior seats of the car. Cunning marketing.

Now I know what you will be saying "oh Justin, it is a Gullwing who cares about practical or being safe that just ruins the charm and exoticness of driving the car! You absolute wan-". Alright that is 100% acceptable and I whole heartedly agree with that. In this day and age we have learnt a lot from the past but the past has not caught up with the future yet. It might sound confusing but what we have been gifted with was probably the golden age of driving. The driving experience was so raw it made driving exciting. The slow roar of the 3.0 L inline-six engine and the rear swing axle doing its black magic those were the bygone days we can only say thank you! Let us appreciate but also never forget the downfalls of the 300 SL brought so we could produce cars to avoid these issues. It is safe to say without the 300 SL I believe Mercedes would not be the world conquering brand of defining success it would be today if it had failed to capture the American market or even starting the designing journey of the 300 SL almost 70 years ago.

Thank you and travel kindly

Thank you and travel kindly

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