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The World’s First Supercar, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL


Welcome to the 22nd insertion of DEMUR®, an analytical series highlighting the intricacies of the artistic world and the minutiae lying within. In this episode we’ll be reaching speeds faster than ever before, reviewing the turning point of Mercedes-Benz in the first ever supercar, the 300SL.


To feel the true gravity of the 300SL it’s crucial to first understand the historical context in which it debuted. The year was 1954 and America had only defeated Nazi-Germany 9 years prior. The American GDP had dropped 13% since the instrument of surrender was signed in 1944, but the private commerce sector was just beginning to heighten - and heighten it did. Unemployment rates halved from 8-4% over a 4 year period (1950-55), and the economy began to soar. The war had ensued both a cultural and economic reset, meaning luxury, prestige and affluence were surging.

The excess in capital drew attention to luxury goods, creating an in for car production companies like Mercedes. The origin of the 300SL lies on the asphalt of racetracks around the world, but the idea of a consumer-ready production supercar intrigued Mercedes’ Max Hoffman. As a result of the booming American economy, Hoffman suggested an ultra-high performance car to be showcased exclusively in New York. He saw a pivotal marketing point and wanted to cater to American car enthusiasts with exclusivity and speed. His theory worked, and the world’s first supercar was introduced in February, 1954 at the New York International Auto Show for $10,950 USD.


The 300SL exceeded a variety of new endeavours in the world of automobiles. The unprecedented gullwing doors that now define the model were a feat of German engineering. Mercedes also managed to top the speed record of world’s fastest production car due to the concept of fuel injection, pushing the top speed to 235/kmph (146/mph). 29 cars were produced with a full aluminum body opposed to the steel hybrid found in typical variations, creating a “Super Light” (SL), daring car.




The Mercedes-Benz 300SL’s influence is seen far and wide in the modern day, raising the question - is it the best to ever do it?





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