February 6, 1954 – Mercedes 300SL goes on sale

In 1952 Mercedes-Benz built a brand new car for the sports car racing season, dubbed the W194. Designed by Friedrich Geiger, the 3 liter straight-6 powered coupe was vicious on the track, placing first at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Bern-Bremgarten, Carrera Panamericana and other high profile races. Though only ten W194s made it to the track, Daimler-Benz’s official US importer Max Hoffman saw the potential of a road going version. He made the case to Mercedes that a production version would be successful and they listened. The resulting Mercedes-Benz 300SL went on sale on this day in 1954. 

The 300SL borrowed the same engine as its racing predecessor but received direct fuel injection, opposed to the triple two-barrel Solex carburetors of the racer. The 300 SL could be had as a Gullwing coupe or a roadster, of which 1400 and 1858 were built, respectively, between 1954 and 1963. Today, the 300SL is one of the most sought after vintage vehicles.


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