In this episode, Iain introduces us to the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, a car that has every right to be considered an automotive icon and considered by many to be one of if not the first examples of a ‘Supercar’. Iain delves into the history of how this car came to be, a true race car for the road. This particular fine example is in for recommissioning after a few years off the road, so after undergoing the necessary work, it’s time to gently bring the car back to life on the road before seeing if that legendary performance is still there.
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing – Recommissioning an Automotive Icon | Tyrrell’s Classic Workshop
Iain Tyrrell is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to classic cars. This attributes to the success of his shop’s YouTube channel, Tyrrell’s Classic Workshop. Recently they had a 300SL Gullwing in for reconditioning, and it was quite a special version. And as Tyrrell went around the car describing the car’s build philosophy, he uncovered that Mercedes was actually behind the curve in some regards.
Many of us, Tyrrell included, could regard the 300SL as one of the world’s first supercars. And while it had a space frame chassis and dry sump lubrication, some post-war circumstances led to interesting aspects. “It’s quite extraordinary that Mercedes would use a drum-brake setup when British sports cars had been using them from the early 1950’s,” Tyrrell notes.
But that’s not all. When it came to the fuel system, it was advanced, being direct injection. But the parts that made up the system were dated. Tyrell states, “they resorted to leather diaphragms because that was the materials they had at the time.”
The reason why we at MBWorld love to soak in this information is because you never know when knowledge like this may be lost. Now when looking at a 300SL, its historic significance is solidified by originality, and now you know that leather diaphragms are required for any restoration. But equally so, Tyrrell mentions one of the biggest selling points of the Gulling; Rudge wheels.
Center spline wheels had been utilized by racing cars for a number of years, with the “knock off” splined hub being popular for its quick and easy tire changes. Rudge wheels were factory fitted to only 130 or so 300SL cars, although many have been converted. Interestingly, Tyrrell says, “they’re heavier than the factory steel wheels, with more unsprung weight.” In turn, that lowers performance. But that is off-set by the current desirability. A Rudge wheel equipped 300SL could get upwards of $150,000 higher asking price when compared to a standard wheel Gullwing.
So the next time one shows up at your local cars and coffee event, you’re armed with knowledge to know whether it’s “just another” 300SL.