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300SL Roadster: An automotive Easter bunny

2014-04-16 10:39

MIGHTY MERCEDES: A late ’50s 300SL Roadster - writer Dave Fall’s dream car, if money was no object. Image: DAVE FALL


As it’s almost Easter I thought for this week’s column I’d take a light-hearted look at one of the best looking cars ever made – through my eyes, anyway.

Of all the cars I’ve owned down the years you’d have thought one of them would have already made my list as the best looking – trouble is, the really pretty ones can cost a fortune!

A little while ago I wrote them all down from memory (all 38) on a piece of paper and it’s worth recording the most money I ever had to shell out for a vehicle was R40 000.


Some were stunning (Morgans), while others were pig-ugly (Mark one Ford Consul) but if money was no object and I could have the keys to any car of my choice it would be the achingly-beautiful classic Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster.

One example turned up at a car auction recently in Cape Town and made R5.5-million for the lucky seller.

Just look at the car pictured in this article spotted at the Pretoria Cars in the Park show – it’s poetry in motion. The SL nomenclature stood for “Sport Leicht” (Sports Light).

It first appeared in 1957, replacing the iconic Gullwing version after receiving just 24 short months of production. The Roadster, surprisingly, proved heavier (1300kg) with its redesigned chassis to compensate for the loss in body strength offered by the roofline of the Gullwing. It was however given additional power to appease Mercedes fans.

Mind you, the 3.0 180kW straight-six engine could never be construed as slow in any shape or form. It ran Bosch fuel injection, made use of dry sump technology and had rival-beating Alfin drum brakes to haul the car back from a potential top speed of 260km/h.

It was no slouch in the traffic-light grand prix either with a potential 0-100km/h acceleration time of under ten seconds. The massive 100-litre fuel tank would come in handy because the 300SL consumed petrol at a rate of 15-litres/100km when used in anger!

For me the Roadster represents everything that could be expected from a high-speed touring car.


There was plenty of space behind the driver and passenger to accommodate extra luggage should you have made full use of the fitted luggage cases - utilising every spare millimetre of that gloriously-shaped bootline.

Maybe you don’t agree with my choice of all-time dream car, if not email Wheels24 and let me know your particular selection. I’ll compile the best submissions in a future column.

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