1954 Mercedes 300 SL (2)
|You'll find the detailed vehicle data here.
Despite the injection being used in the Gutbrod two-stroke, this car is considered to be the first standard vehicle with direct petrol injection. In addition, it was given the description of being 'fastest standard car' of its time.
Indeed, let's take things one after the other. First of all, it was somewhat difficult to get into, however, after a bit of practice, women were able to manage it as well, even without having to wear a trouser-suit. On the driver's
side, the folding steering wheel did help.
As far as the interior fittings were concerned, one notices something that was often used in sports-cars or convertibles at that time, the single rear-view mirror, which was mounted on the dashboard. This feature was
impractical because the area behind the two front seats could only be used for luggage. The boot at the rear, was almost completely taken up by the fuel tank and the spare wheel.
|Non-adjustable steering wheel
One can argue the point, whether a car with so much 'overtaking prestige' needed a high-beam flasher (optional extra) or not, which shouldn't be used for this reason anyhow, but a windscreen washer (also an optional
extra) with an electric pump, was at the time of its origin, already standard equipment in the upper price range.
It was bad luck if one was stopped in this car and asked to show the cars registration papers. One then had to ask the respective officer to go back a step so that the gullwing door could be opened. Since only the very small
triangular window in the front could be opened.
|Only in extreme situations was the suspension critical
Surprisingly, the car rids itself of all it's quirks after starting the engine and driving off. On the contrary, one would have to look hard, to find a car that can smoothly accelerate at idling speed and in the top gear (approx. 25
km/h, according to the prospectus), up to its top speed, without jerking and with no play in the transmission components.
|Small luggage compartment
Whereby, the fairly direct non-power steering moves the car further away from being suitable for everyday use. The otherwise gentle engine also makes itself heard if one pushes it, particularly at higher speeds. Then, the
otherwise moderate consumption, knows no boundaries. The injection system can, in contrast to the carburettor, even take the air-pressure into consideration.
An interesting factor is the braking system, which according to the state of technology at the time, had to be satisfied with drum brakes. Although these have a large surface, they could never have been as efficient as they
should be, because, they simply fill out the whole rim. This is probably valid for their width as well, this is why hard braking behind today's sports cars, could nevertheless, still be fairly dangerous.
|High torque, from 1000 RPM onwards
By today's standards, the 300 SL is a lightweight. The rods of the tubular trellis frame are, apart from the cross beams, laid out only for tension and pressure- and not for inflexion strain, which makes a particularly lightweight
construction possible. Indeed, they then take up a lot of space in the car, which makes the 300 SL anything but space-efficient. The conditions reigning at that time do put the favourable tare-weight (catch-phrase SL)
somewhat into perspective.
|A dream car, not only during the 1950s ...
In the first series, still without the Roadster, a double-jointed swinging axle was installed. In the contemporary
testing it nonetheless got relatively good write-ups. There were only warnings, if it was driven way outside the normal handling, on its extreme limits. In this case, according to the manufacturer, in contrast to the slight under-
steering targeted today, the rear axle could suddenly and violently break away. All together, the later installed swinging axle showed much less critical camber change when the springing was compressed.