Mercedes-Benz – 300 SL (1955)
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- Daniel Iseli (CH)
Class CCelebrating 150 Seasons at Villa d’Este: How grand Entrances were once made
Few vehicles are defined by the design of their doors. This actually is the case with the 300 SL, although the spectacular and unique detail of the car’s body makes it hard to believe today that Mercedes-Benz has never been interested in grandstanding. The background tells us that this was simply a matter of design. In order to make the roadster coupé as lightweight as possible, engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut made use of the advantages presented by an exceptionally rigid tubular lattice-work chassis.
As a result of the sill being raised significantly, the doors started high up and the engineering logic therefore dictated gullwing doors. These gave rise to the iconic Gullwing name on the world stage. The unique styling transformed the 300 SL into an aesthetic symbol of the rapidly advancing German economy during the decade following the end of the war. This particular example is charged with special emotional appeal as a consequence of its first driver: Sophia Loren. At the time, she was being celebrated as a young, upcoming movie star and she used this very gullwing for some breathtaking photo shoots. In 1956, she piloted the roadster in the enormously popular Rallye del Cinema from
Rome to Sanremo.