1990 mercedes 300SL convertible
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The name "Mercedes 300SL" can refer to a line of sport coupes and roadsters produced during the late 1950s and early 1960s, or a later model line that was produced between 1989 and 1993 (also known as the Mercedes Benz R129).
The earlier version is still treasured as a classic, greatly sought after by collectors of vintage and classic vehicles. Today, a vintage Mercedes 300SL goes for right around $1 million or more (if you can find one for sale), and 1954 Mercedes 300SL gullwing price (the coupe with doors that opened upwards) can be over $2 million at auction. Anymore, it's not even possible to obtain a more reasonably-priced Mercendes 300SL kit car replica, as the company put the kibosh on those a few years back (reportedly, because poorly-made replicas were giving a bad name to the original).
The 1954 Mercedes 300 SL ("Sport Light") Gullwing Coupe (so-called because of unusual doors that opened upward and outward) featured the first direct fuel injection system ever offered on a production vehicle. It was also the fastest car on the road for awhile, able to go 200 miles per hour. It was essentially designed and built for the U.S. market, where the Mercedes Benz U.S. distributor at the time, one Max Hoffman, noticed that Americans had a keenly-developed taste for fast, sporty cars like the Corvette. The gullwing doors were not put there just to look exotic; it had to do with the body construction. Like the Fokker D7 fighter plane of the First World War, the frame of the Mercedes 300SL was made of welded aluminum tubing, making it both light and strong. However, the design made it impossible to use normal doors, thus the gullwing design. It was still a challenge to get in and out of the vehicle, however, though the addition of a steering column that tilted to the side mitigated this somewhat. It was nonetheless a success; of 1400 300SLs produced, over 1300 were sold in the U.S.
The more recent SL300 is an entirely different animal. Introduced in 1989, production of the modern Mercedes SL-Class ("R129") was discontinued in 2002. This was a roadster with a convertible rag top as well hard top that could be attached when the canvas top was folded down. Engine choices ranged from a 2.8 liter, 198 horsepower inline six to a massive 7.3 liter V-12 rated at 525 horsepower. Buyers could choose three different transmissions: a four or five speed G-Tronic or five speed standard.