Without a doubt, the Mercedes-Benz SL is one of the most iconic models in the brand’s history. And as the roadster celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, Mercedes-Benz is rolling out both new and historic sheetmetal. In addition to the release of the all-new 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL, the automaker has just completed the restoration of the oldest SL in the world, the 1952 300SL Chassis Number 2.
The first “300 Super Light” gullwing coupe was scrapped long ago, but Chassis Number 2 has remained with Mercedes-Benz since it was produced in 1952. Codenamed W194, the original SLs were designed and built strictly for race duty. Like many of today’s world-class sports cars, the W194 was tested and tuned on Germany’s famed Nurburgring before making its public debut on March 12, 1952. The W194 would put Mercedes-Benz back on the racing map with podium wins in the Mille Miglia, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 3rd Carrera Panamericana in Mexico. Chassis Number 2 just one of 10 300SL W194s built and Mercedes has honored its life with a painstaking disassembly and restoration at its Classic Center in Fellbach, Germany.
The bodyshell, for example, took specialists six months to restore due to its lightweight, yet delicate aluminum/magnesium construction (the bodyshell’s total weight is just 110 pounds). Also restored was the M194, 3.0-liter, dry sump, inline-six that produces 170 hp and a top speed of 144 mph. In all, the restoration of Chassis Number 2 took 10 months to complete.
We hope the newly restored, grandfather of SLs serves as inspiration for future Super Lights. The upcoming sixth-gen SL550, which goes on sale this spring, appears to be a step in the right direction. It will be the first SL to be built almost entirely from aluminum helping it achieve a significant weight reduction of 275 pounds compared to the outgoing SL550. It’ll be faster, too, thanks to a new 4.6-liter, direct-injected, twin-turbo V-8 engine with a power rating of 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Add to that a number of high-tech goodies and there’s no doubt that the new SL will be one of Mercedes’ most celebrated models 60 years from now.