This is the first supercar

The iconic Mercedes-Benz 300 SL from 1954 was the fastest production car of its day and offered racing technologies for day-to-day usability.

The iconic Mercedes-Benz 300 SL from 1954 was the fastest production car of its day and offered racing technologies for day-to-day usability.

We would like to take the opportunity to say a warm "Thank You" to Max Hoffman. "Who is Max Hoffman?" you might ask. He is the genius who suggested Mercedes-Benz to build a road-legal W194. Hoffman was a New-York based luxury European car importer and he was also known for being behind the 356 Speedster and the V8-powered BMW 507. All icons.

The Mercedes-Benz W194 was a successful racer from the 50's. It won the 24H of Le Mans, the Carrera Panamericana and many other significant races. Only ten were ever made and it was succeeded by the 300 SLR. Mercedes-Benz took the gamble and started producing the car that would later be called: 300 SL, or one of the most beautiful cars ever made and the first supercar.

SL stands for "Sport Leicht" (You guessed it right, Sport Light) and, indeed, this car is light. It weighs around 1300 kg. The car's main body is steel and some elements like the hood, doors and boot lid are made of aluminum. The engine is the one from a 300 luxury tourer from 1951. An engine that we first saw in the WW1 Messerschmitt fighter plane. This was also the first direct fuel injection production car and this system helped the car to develop 218 PS. Not a lot? This was 1954 and the 300 SL could reach speeds of 260 km/h! Making it the fastest production car of its time.

Thank You Max Hoffman!

Jonathan Yarden

The car was mainly produced for the North American market. Therefore, more than 80% of all production went to the USA and it hugely helped Mercedes-Benz to change its image overseas.1858 roadsters and only 1400 coupés were produced. The limited production run of the coupé makes it a bit more valuable. In addition, you get these beautiful "gullwing" doors, and that's priceless. On the other hand, the roadster let's you enjoy the nice weather, while having the same specifications as the coupé. Which one would you choose? The sporty one or the cruiser? Thankfully, we can't afford to face this dilemma. We don't know too much about the prices, but we saw a mint condition coupé online with an asking price of $1'850'000... Anyway, thanks to the Perego Cars dealership, we got the chance to approach one and get the feeling of it.

This particular car we are reviewing here is a Roadster model. Its last owner kept it for 30 years and he has kept it in pristine conditions. You can see that it has an elegant combination of original anthracite exterior colour with the also original tobacco leather interior. Most of the leather has this beautiful patina but some parts of the interior had to be replaced, such as the doorways and the central tunnel that were too damaged. The lasat owner also wished not to skate the new leathers to allow viewing of the replaced parts. Over time, the engine, the chassis, the running gear received a complete makeover to allow a faultless operation of the car. The brakes and brake boosters have been changed and all the consumable components have been replaced. It has also been repainted in its original MB 172 anthracite color. On the road, this 300 SL behaves very well. The engine starts without problems and proves it is "Deutsche Qualität". The behavior in cornering and during braking phases suffers no problem. Ok, it's kind of a boat but bare in mind that this car is from the 50's.

In other words, this car has become such an icon that Mercedes-Benz decided to give it a successor in 2010, the SLS AMG. It just followed the styling of the original 300 SL with a modern tweak. This just proves how important the 300 SL is to Mercedes-Benz's legacy and how special it is to petrolheads.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster


I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Perego Cars, situated in Switzerland, for giving me the opportunity to review and shoot this car that is currently on sale. Website: Facebook: Instagram:

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Comments (27)

  • Pretty sure Bentley or Duesenberg had the first Supercar

      2 years ago
    • That’s debatable

        2 years ago
    • Well, the 1909 “Blitzen Benz” would have been the first, but the term “Supercar” was first coined in the 1920s for the Benz SSk and the Fiat Mephistopheles.

        2 years ago
  • Perhaps first mass produced supercar (that was could be attained by the general public), but I would say they're were supercars before the Gullwing.

      2 years ago
  • The details on that ...

      2 years ago
  • I thank Hoffman on a daily basis.

      2 years ago
  • Supercar?


    Gorgeous and capable grand tourer?


      2 years ago