When considering what the inspiration was the new Mercedes-Benz SLS, it’s hard not to look past the classic 300SL. As well as being the first gullwing car ever, it was also the fastest car of its day and featured a range of innovative and revolutionary features.
First seen at the 1954 New York Auto Show, the 300SL was originally a successful race car scoring wins at Le Mans a second and fourth place on the Mille Miglia. Its efficient aerodynamics and light weight made it ideal for GT and long distance racing car.
Tech-wise, asides from the never seen before roof-hinged gullwing doors, the 300SL was the first car to feature direct-injection to its 3.0-litre straight six engine. It also got independent suspension on all four wheels, precise steering, an aluminium bonnet, boot and doors and “eyebrows” over the front-wheel arches to improve aerodynamics and reduce drag.
But the 300SL is not the only Mercedes to feature gullwing doors. Two concepts, the C111 and C112, have appeared since the 300SL and both undoubtedly have helped inspired the SLS we see today.
The revolutionarily gullwing theme continued with the C111, which appeared in its first guise in 1969. Mercedes used it as a test bed both for luxury features such as air-conditioning, leather seats and of course, gullwing doors.