Classic Cool Feature
Introduced in 1954, the 300 SL was the first example of Mercedes-Benz’s SL-Class grand tourer and was, at the time of its release, the fastest production car available. The car is best known for its distinctive gull-wing doors, which will utterly dominate any
discussion about it, even though it wasn’t the first car to have them. That honour goes to
the Bugatti Type 64, which debuted in 1939.
What makes it special?
The popular perception is that the gull-wing doors of the 300 SL were purely an aesthetic design choice, but that’s actually not. The gull-wings are undeniably attractive, but their inclusion in the car was for practical reasons. As a two-seater roadster coupé, the 300 SL had a very low roofline, which meant that more traditionally hinged doors would have meant extremely small entry points.This would have made entering and exiting the car very difficult, of course, so engineers solved that problem with the gull-wing.
Its unusual looks, prestigious marque and excellent drivability resulted in a car that had no shortage of willing buyers. The car was popular among Middle Eastern royalty, with many a sheikh, emir and king having one in the garage. Hollywood celebs such as Tony Curtis, Clark Gable, Horst Buchholz and Natalie Wood were also known to open them up on the roads every now and then.
Buy it today?
Getting gull-wing doors on a car today is practically unheard of. The spiritual successor to the 300 SL, the Mercedes-Benz SLS, is the only modern car to feature them, but in both cases, you’ll need a fat bank balance to own one. You could opt to modify an existing car, though that probably isn’t worth the hassle. That said, if Tesla ever brings its brand here, the upcoming Model X SUV has similar falcon doors for the rear passengers.