Information about the Mercedes Benz SL roadster
The Mercedes-Benz SL is a grand tourer manufactured by Mercedes since 1954. The designation SL derives from the German Sport Leicht, or Sport Lightweight and was first applied to the 300SL 'Gullwing' named also after its gullwing or upward-opening doors. The term SL-Class refers to the marketing variations of the vehicle, including the numerous engine configurations spanning five design generations.
The 300SL roadster succeeded the Gullwing in 1957. The 4-cylinder 190SL was more widely produced with 25,881 units, starting in 1955. Cars of the open SL-Class were available as a coupe with a removable hardtop or as a roadster with convertible soft top or with both tops. Production for the 190SL and 300SL ended in 1963.
300SL ("Gullwing"): 19541957, 3.0L I6, 215 hp
Next came the SL-Class 230SL, a new design with a 2.3L mechanically fuel injected six cylinder engine. It featured a low waistline and big curved greenhouse windows, and a Coupe Roadster with detachable hardtop, whose distinctive roofline earned the nickname "pagoda top." The design was by Paul Bracq. Around 1967, the engine received a displacement increase and the model became known as the 250SL. Within a year the engine displacement was increased for the final time and the model designation became 280SL. Beginning with later versions of the 250SL changes were made to dashboard padding, switches and knobs, door pockets (U.S. models only) and steering wheel. In addition, the on the 280SL formerly separate center hub caps and wheel trim rings became full wheelcovers.
230SL: 19631967, 2.3L I6, 150 hp
350SL: 19711980, 3.5L V8
All updated 86-89 models have the advantages of the more modern 4 pot brakes, larger discs, and suspension derived from the W124 sedan. The body itself is built with a modern paint system designed to improve protection from rust. This however failed miserably as many of the models still rusted, mainly the front two wings.
The 300SL base model was available as standard in a 5-speed manual although very few were sold. The SOHC 6 cylinder M103 is typically considered to have handling advantages with its lighter weight engine.
420SL: 19861989, 4.5L V8
The 1989 Mercedes SL base model was the 228 hp (170 kW) 3.0 L inline 6 300SL version in the US. In Europe the base model was the 190 hp (140 kW) 3.0 L inline 6 300SL with 12 valves, and the 228 hp (170 kW) 3.0 L inline 6 with 24 valves is known as the 300SL 24 . But it was the 322 hp (240 kW) 500SL (with a 5.0 L V8 engine) which made the most headlines. The specification was high, with electric windows, mirrors, seats and roof.
1994 saw a huge facelift for the SL, and the 300SL was replaced in Europe by the SL280 and SL320 (with 2.8 L and 3.2 L I6 engines). The SL500 continued with the same powerful engine. A 389 hp (290 kW) 6.0 L V12 SL600 topped the range. Introduced in 1993 as the 600SL, it was re-badged the SL600 in 1994.
The SL320 replaced the 300SL in the United States in 1995, but the SL280 was not offered. The 6-cylinder SLs were dropped from the US lineup in 1998, leaving just the V8 and V12. The SL500 got a new 302 hp (225 kW) 5.0 L V8 for 1999.
In 2003, an all-new SL (initially just a 5.0 L SL500 version) featured a retractable hardtop (marketed as the Vario Roof) available on the SLK since 1997. This featured a 5.0 L 302 hp (225 kW) V8, with a 5.4 L AMG Supercharged V8 appearing in 2002's SL55 AMG. V12 engines are available in the SL600 and the limited-production SL65 AMG.
The 2008-2011 SL received a face lift in 2008 featuring a new front end that evokes the classic 300SL with a large grille featuring a prominent 3-pointed star and twin "power domes" on the hood, the car also features new headlights with an optional "Intelligent Light System" and a new speed sensitive steering system.
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