2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
Most people think Henry Ford invented the car, but he didn’t. The people credited with inventing the automobile are Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz, both of whom, working separately, came up with an internal combustion engine-powered conveyance in 1886.
Flash forward 125 years and the company founded from their efforts, Mercedes-Benz, is one of the most highly respected automobile manufacturers in the world. Both innovative and technologically advanced, their cars are also among the most desirable on earth. Another remarkable thing about the company is even though they are not a dedicated sports car producer like Ferrari or Porsche, they’ve produced some of history’s most iconic sports cars as well.
Here’s Sports Car Monitor’s list of the five greatest Mercedes-Benz sports cars. And now that we think about it, they’re also five of the greatest sports cars of all time—period.
1928 – 1932 Mercedes-Benz SSK: Designed by Ferdinand Porsche (yeah, THAT Ferdinand Porsche) the SSK was powered by a supercharged seven-liter in-line six cylinder engine that produced between 200 and 300 horsepower and as much as 500 pound-feet of torque, depending on its state of tune. The car was good for an honest 120 miles per hour, when most cars struggled to break 60 mph. Billed as the fastest sports car in the world at its debut, fewer than 40 examples of it were ever built, more than half of them for racing. Only about five all-original SSKs still exist.
1955 – 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing”: The fastest production car of its day, the 300 SL evolved out of the 1952 Mercedes sports racing car. Introduced at the 1954 New York Auto Show, they were the first production cars to feature direct fuel injection. The 3.0-liter in-line six produced between 212 and 222 horsepower and had a top speed of around 160 miles per hour, depending upon its gearing. While it featured an aluminum hood, trunk lid and doors, buyers could also order an all-aluminum 300 SL. Many credit it with establishing the reputation of Mercedes-Benz in the United States.
1971 - 1989 Mercedes-Benz R107 SL: Throughout the 1970s an SL was THE sports car to have. Of all the iterations of that model line, the 450 SL is the most iconic. Though they offered only 222 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque, they were indelibly entwined with the good life. The 450 SL was fast, beautiful and had an amazing amount of charisma. Yes, there were faster and more agile sports cars during its lifetime; but very few offered its presence and prestige. At 18 years, the 1971 – 1989 R107 SL is one of the longest-running model lines in the history of the company.
2003 – 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren: Jointly developed by Mercedes-Benz and McLaren Automotive, the 21st Century SLR was built in England. One of the ten most expensive cars in the world during its lifetime, the front-mid engined SLR McLaren made 617 horsepower from a 5.5-liter supercharged V-8 and 580 lb-ft of torque. It did 60 mph in just over 3.0 seconds, 11-second quarters and had a 211-mph top speed. A special “722” edition of the car, produced in 2006, was rated at 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque. In 2007 a roadster version was offered as well.
2010 - Present Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG: The first in-house design from Mercedes’ performance division AMG, the SLS AMG is meant to be the spiritual successor to the 300 SL mentioned above. Inheriting the Gullwing doors from its predecessor, while not the most powerful car in Mercedes’ current lineup (that honor goes to the 670-horsepower twin-turbo V-12 SL 65 AMG Black), the SLS is certainly the most exotic. Boasting 563 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque, the SLS is a true 200-mile-per-hour exotic sports car—though Mercedes limits its top speed to 197 mph.