The Mercedes-Benz SL-class has been manufactured since 1954. An American importer, Max Hoffman, came with the initial idea of the car which was to create a toned-down Gran Prix car. The first model of the SL-Class was the 300 SL. The 300 SL was known for its gullwing doors. Within the SL-Class multiple variations of the vehicle were manufactured. The abbreviation SL was never explained by Mercedes. The assumption was that the letters stood for Sport Leicht. However, since 2017 it is believed that the abbreviation stands for the German words “Super Leicht”, in English super light. The car has six generations.
In 1954, the first generation of the SL-class became a fact with the coupé that included gullwing doors. Three years later, the 300 SL roadster functioned as the succession of the coupé. After the appearance of the four-cylinder 190 SL in 1955, production of the SL-Class started to increase. The production of the 190 SL and 300 SL ended in 1963. Not long after that the 230 SL came. The car that included a low waistline and big curved greenhouse windows also had a six-cylinder engine. The design of the car was made by Paul Bracq. After a few years of production, the engine of the Mercedes received a bigger displacement. This resulted into the change of name into 250 SL. In only a year, the car received another displacement increase which resulted into the change of name to 280 SL. After the 250 SL, changes were made to the interior of the car, such as the dashboard padding and the steering wheel. In the third generation, which was from 1971 to 1989, the car was expended with several advantages. The car included for example modern 4 pot brakes and larger discs. Furthermore the car’s exterior was built with a paint system that was designed to give more protection from rust. Even though there was a special system to prevent rust, the cars still struggled with a certain amount of rust.
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From 1989 to 2002, multiple variations were once again produced. The 500 SL got a lot of attention, because of its electric windows, mirrors, seats and roof. The remarkable thing about the fourth generation was the fact that the R129 model was the first one to have an automatic roll bar deployment in event of rollover. The roll bar could also be lowered or raised manually if the driver preferred that. Either way a clean look of the car was assured. In 1994 small changes were made to the exterior, for example the taillights. In Europe, the 300 SL was replaced by the SL 280 and the SL 320. The SL 500 remained, just as other models like the SL 600. In the SL-Class, some models were customised by AMG. However, these cars are limited and rare. The fifth generation, the R230, included some new features such as a retractable hardtop and ABC (active body control). After 2004, the newer models included a 7 speed transmission which was the successor of the 5 speed transmission. Between 2008 and 2011 the R230 got a facelift with a revised engine and a new front. The car also featured new headlight and a new speed sensitive steering system. The sixth generation included the R231. The car was almost entirely produced from aluminium, which led to the fact that the car weights less than its predecessor. Furthermore, the car has for example an adaptive windscreen wipe/wash system and a FrontBass system. The new model is in contrast to its predecessor longer and wider. The car got a facelift in 2016. For its exterior, the car has a revised front end, front grille treatment and larger non-functional side vents.
E & R Classics, your Mercedes-Benz Classic Car specialist!
What are the advantages of buying a Mercedes-Benz SL car at ER Classics?
- A great assortment of classic cars for sale
- All cars are carefully checked by the mechanics in our own workshop
- MOT, welding and interior proceedings for your Mercedes-Benz SL car
- Our specialised oldtimer mechanics can take care of all proceedings
- We can take care of repairs, maintenance as well as customised needs
- Complete restauration of your Mercedes-Benz SL car
- We can deliver your classic car to any European country