Let’s hope we all look as good when we turn 60.

There are timeless classics, and then there’s the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. The gull-wing coupe debuted in 1954, but 60 years ago this month saw the premiere of the 300 SL Roadster at the Geneva Motor Show. Being that both versions of the iconic two-seater are considered among the greatest cars of all time, Mercedes is keen on bragging just a bit for the SL Roadster’s anniversary.

The company certainly has cause to celebrate. When the 300 SL first hit the scene it was sleek, elegant, and quite advanced for the day, with the first-ever use of fuel injection in a production vehicle. It was adapted from the W 194 race car that Mercedes had been campaigning to great success, using a combination of steel and aluminum to keep overall weight under 2,500 pounds (1,134 kilograms). Under the hood was an inline-six engine with a single overhead cam, producing approximately 215 horsepower which propelled the 300 SL to speeds upwards of 140 miles per hour (225 kilometres per hour).

 

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster

 

In slicing off the roof, Mercedes engineers were keen to keep the 300’s rigidity and handling prowess intact. The frame was redesigned on the sides to accommodate classic side-opening doors while adding strength. Modifications to the rear created room for the single-joint swing axle and springs, while also freeing up space for a larger trunk. Initially the 300 SL Roadster was only given a manually-operated soft top; the removable hard top wasn’t available until 1959. Minor changes to the headlights rounded out the significant differences to the gull-wing coupe, with the conversion adding roughly 260 pounds (118 kg).

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Production of the 300 SL Roadster ended on February 8, 1963. A total of 1,858 were built, and if you want a well-kept original for your collection, expect to shell out around $1 million USD at the bare minimum. The new Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster is the 300 SL's spiritual successor, and you could certainly own one for considerably less. But the only way to have that proper spiritual experience is to go old-school. And for some, that experience is priceless.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

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