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Mercedes-Benz 300 SL: The car that launched with a single press release

When the legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SL sports car was launched 60 years ago today it was nothing more than a single press release.

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Today the iconic sports car is 60 years old. Mercedes-Benz is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the SL 300, which was launched 60 years ago on 1952 in Germany.

There was only a single press release and a drive down the autobahn between the German cities of Stuttgart and Heilbronn in Southern Germany. It was a 34 mile drive down.

One can easily see how low-key was the debut of the Adenauer-Mercedes, as it was called at a time, considering how much ceremony surrounds the launch of new cars these days. The Adenauer-Mercedes was the first sports car made by the German automaker after WW2. It was iconic and super light. This is where the name came from SL stands for "super-light." The car weighted only 110 lb.

However, with the light weight and design came the impossibility of conventional doors. The designers had the solution ready. They built top-hinged doors, which swung upwards. Mercedes calls this solution a "stroke of pure engineering genius."

Mercedes-Benz on SL 300

And the vehicle’s impressive looks were soon matched by its performance. At its first competitive outing, the gruelling 1,600-kilometre Mille Miglia, the 300 SL finished an impressive second. It then went on to multiple victories in each of its next four races: the Bern Prize for Sports Car (one-two-three), the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans (one-two), the Jubilee Grand Prix for sports cars at the Nürburgring (one-two-threefour) and the 3,100-km road race across Mexico, the Carrera Panamericana (one-two). The latter was a particularly spectacular victory since despite a collision with a vulture resulting in a broken windscreen, Karl Kling and Hans Klenk battled on to bring their car home in first place. An improved version of the 300 SL followed in 1953 and acquired the nickname “Hobel” (English: “woodworking plane”).

Reference: Mercedes-Benz Classic Home

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