As a piece of automotive history, the 300 SL is a masterpiece, and although traditionally it was the coupe, or Gullwing, that took most of the glory, today the Roadster has recovered the place it deserves with values even passing the records of its enclosed brother. All of the, roughly 1,800, Roadsters manufactured, mounted the beefed up motor with 240hp, which carries the 200 kilos surplus, (compared to the coupe), with enduring supremacy. When trying to describe it, I find no better comparison than to benchmark with another teutonic wonder, which has had the same enlightening effect in me, at very early age, as this car has, and this is Beethoven’s 6th Symphony. This classical composition is at first so delicate, it can make the listener visualize the power of nature hidden in the smallest deeds, like the opening of a tiny violet in a crisp spring morning, but if you continue listening, the overwhelming force of the skies will hit you, pointing out the human fragility as connected to a much bigger dynamic called evolution. Comparing Ludwig Van’s musical delirium with a car, could sound pompous and even insulting for many, but not for those that drink from gasoline dreams. What the Stuttgart fellas delivered here, directly out of their race division in the 50s, is the first Super Car in history, and dam they did it right! It is fabulous to enjoy the extreme attention for the smallest details, blossoming in a gracious creature of titanic proportions. This parallelism also happens when you drive this gallant, but killer, machine on the road. By dimensions and stance, you figure your are standing in front of a compact racing machine, but its nobleness and ergonomics seem to make it look huge to the novice eye. Then you turn the ignition key and the leaning straight six starts with a soft rumor, nothing fancy, nor sporty… You release the sturdy clutch and there we go. The first 500 meters, the huge steering wheel palliates the excessive play on the look for direction. Everything is cool, the car rides like an old sluggish Merc, “boat-like”… The coil-spring four-wheel independent suspension gives a ride that is surprisingly soft. “Ok”, you think, so this is it… Just a tired 1950s sports car with 200+ hp that has lost the ability to make them hit the the road… Then you push a little harder… and… Oh my F***ing G…!@#$%^& Just above 4.000RPM, the “docile” german roadster takes off at an exhilarating pace and bites you in the neck! First thing that comes to your head is that you don’t have any seat belts on, but this thought quickly fades, as now you need to employ all your head and body, (Yes you read right, body!), holding on to the steering wheel trying to keep this, (suddenly turbulent), monster on the twisty road, with the rubber side down. The inline 6 is now screaming, and the car jumps aggressively from one turn to the other like there were no straights in between. The auxiliary fuel pump, used constantly at high speeds, emits a nervous whine. To keep up with the drive requires a muscular tonic which actually resembles more the activity of a sports biker than a roadster tourer. The brakes are phenomenal & I just keep repeating to myself while trying to avoid excessive oversteer: “Caution, D. Caution… if you break you can’t pay…” Wooahahahahaaaa!!! This is motor-head heaven and another check on the bucket list!
Maria is wearing El Solitario’s Red Selvedge 14oz. Bonneville Coverall, a vintage 1930s leather racing shell from La Isla del Tesoro & Halcyon Goggles.
1958 Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster thanks to Clasicos Vigo