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June 17, 2020

1952 Mercedes 300 SL: The First All-New Racing Car Designed by Mercedes-Benz After WWII

The Mercedes-Benz W194 (also 300 SL) was the Mercedes-Benz entry for the 1952 Sportscar racing season, its first after World War II.

Weighing just 50 kilograms, the 300 SL’s innovative spaceframe guaranteed low weight combined with maximum torsional rigidity. However, its design rendered conventional doors impossible. The solution – top-hinged doors that swung upwards – was a stroke of pure engineering genius.

Powered by a 3.0 litre SOHC straight-6, it ran off an impressive string of victories that included 24 Hours of Le Mans, Bern-Bremgarten, the Eifelrennen at Nürburgring, and Mexico’s Carrera Panamericana.

Only ten W194s were made. It was succeeded by the Mercedes-Benz W196 on the track and the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR on the road racing circuit. This led to the iconic Mercedes 300 SL W198 Gullwing road car in 1954.


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