Mercedes-Benz will present with several vehicles this year at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the automaker announced. The focus will be on the history of the Mercedes-Benz SL. Examples of several generations of the sports cars will be on display at Pebble Beach – ranging from the 300 SL racing sports car from 1952 and the legendary 300 SL Roadster from 1957 to an SL 55 AMG of 2003.
Back in 1953, Max E. Hoffman was convinced that a sports car from Mercedes-Benz would be successful on the American market. Hoffman, the brand’s importer for the eastern United States, traveled to Untertürkheim to promote his idea for extending the model line-up. The minutes of a board meeting on Sept. 2, 1953 showed: “In the USA, people expect Mercedes-Benz, a company with a particularly good name in that country, to offer under all circumstances a sports car which alone can provide a basis for the existence of the dealer organization.”
These discussions resulted in two models, the 190 SL (W 121) and the 300 SL (W 198). Hoffman was proved right: in 1954 and 1955 alone, no less than 85% of the 996 300 SL Coupés built were exported to the USA. Throughout the entire production period, Mercedes-Benz delivered more than half of all its 300 SL to North America. The subsequent SL model series continued this success story.
Mercedes-Benz Classic is presenting six cars from its SL heritage collection in connection with the Concours d’Elegance:
- Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing sports car (W 194) #5: It was in this very car that Rudolf Caracciola, three-time European Champion of the Silver Arrow era from 1934 to 1939, took fourth place in the 1952 Mille Miglia. Hermann Lang, European Champion in 1939, finished second in the Carrera Panamericana in 1952 in this 300 SL.
- Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 194) #11: the racing prototype further developed for the 1953 season – a true one-off.
- Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198), 1957
- Mercedes-Benz 280 SL “Pagoda” (W 113), 1969
- Mercedes-Benz 380 SL (R 107), 1982
- Mercedes-Benz SL 500 (R 129), special model for the USA, the “Silver Arrow Edition”, 2001
- Mercedes-Benz SL 55 AMG (R 230), 2003