The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe from 1955, six cylinders, 3000 cc, 215 HP, 250 km/h, 1370 copies made.
The 300 SL traces its origin to a racing sports car, the Mercedes-Benz W194. For this purpose, Daimler-Benz decided to race in 1951 and built a sports car. As a result, Mercedes’ largest engine was developed: the M186, shared by the 300 “Adenauer” saloon (W186) and the luxury 300 S two-seat tourer (W188).
Racing successes in 1952 were somewhat surprising as the W194 engine was fitted only with carburetors, producing 175 hp (130 kW) – less than competing cars by Ferrari and Jaguar and the 300 SL road car introduced in 1954. Nevertheless, low weight and low aerodynamic drag made the W194 fast enough to be competitive in endurance races.
Mercedes-Benz developed a new version for the 1953 racing season by adding fuel injection and 16-inch wheels; the gearbox was installed on its rear axle. Its body was made of Elektron, a magnesium alloy, which reduced its weight by 85 kilograms (187 pounds). Mercedes-Benz decided not to race this alloy car, choosing instead to begin participating in Formula One in 1954. Later versions revised the body to lower air resistance, and did not continue the transmission arrangement.