Spanning four generations of finely engineered sports cars, the Mercedes-Benz SL story begins with a successful assault on the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1952. Based on the racing cars, the mighty 300SL "Gullwing" coupe followed in 1954, and caused a genuine sensation in New York where it debuted alongside its "baby sister", the 190SL. The world's first petrol-engined production car with direct fuel injection, the 300SL was also the world's first true "supercar". Superceded in 1957 by the tamer but more satisfactory 300SL Roadster, these expensive cars perpetuated the Stuttgart company's reputation as a builder of the world's finest quality automobiles. Launched in 1963, the "Pagodas" (230SL, 250SL and 280SL) replaced the "fire breathers" of the 1950s and were altogether different in conception, but were regarded as instant classics nonetheless. Despite their smaller capacity engines and relatively paltry engine power outputs, development in chassis engineering and radial tyres put these cars on a par with contemporary "exotica" from Italy. They were correct for the 1960s, but had outgrown their usefulness by 1971 when the third generation cars were launched.
Engineered very much to meet the demands of American safety and emissions requirements, this series was every bit as good as its illustrious forebears, but it was only in the 1990s that aficionados have come to appreciate their fine qualities. The current and fourth generation SLs from the three-pointed star continue as state-of-the-art sporting carriages built in the best Stuttgart traditions. From the company that invented the motor car, Daimler-Benz's many customers have, through successive generations, come to expect the best in comfort, safety, performance and technical innovation. This book contains over 200 photographs which, supported by informative captions, provide a history of the SL series.