The Mercedes Benz 300SL Vs. Mercedes AMG-GT
While we understand that comparing the 300SL and the current AMG is unfair, we will do it anyway. (All they share is the Mercedes logo and four wheels). Here are the primary ways that we compared these two excellent sports cars.
The 300SL Gullwing was produced in 1954 - ‘57, based on the W194 race car that Mercedes had developed as the first race car produced after the Second World War. The SL designation referred to “Super-Light,” ideal for racing applications. The car was equipped with a 3.0 L straight six-cylinder engine and a mechanical direct fuel injection, which significantly boosted power.
The 300SL was developed to capture the growing affluent American market for a tuned-down version of the racer. The car was first shown at the New York International Auto Show in 1954, and the response was so positive that Mercedes agreed to produce an initial batch of 1,000 in August of the same year.
Over the years, the Gullwing has developed a loyal following. When Sports Cars Illustrated reviewed the 300SL, they compared the experience of driving it to “having Marilyn Monroe,” which was pretty high praise. The article declared the car “the finest production car in the world.”
These extraordinary sports cars with gullwing style doors are prime targets for collector’s garages, as evidenced by the $143 million that one investor recently paid for owning one.
The 2024 AMG-GT began its second generation using the same platform as the new SL, produced only as a coupe. The sports car is heavier than the previous generation, featuring a 4.0L V8, has a 9-speed automatic transmission, and is all-wheel drive. Mercedes offers the coupe in two trim levels, the GT55 and the GT63. While the car is much more potent than anything the mid-fifties Gullwing could even conceive of, it remains to be seen what kind of legacy Mercedes will have with the development of the sports car.
Engine And Performance
The original 300SL Gullwing was equipped with a 3.0L inline-six that made 240 hp and 217 lb-ft of torque. The car has a top speed of 160 mph (which made it the fastest production car of the day) and posted an 8.5 second 0 - 60 mph time. While these numbers are pedestrian compared to today, the car was faster than anything its competitors were producing, including the Jaguar XK120 and the new American Corvette.
The 2024 AMG-GT has a twin-turbo 4.0L V8 engine (AMG calls it “bi-turbo”), pumping out 469 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque in the GT55 model, and 577 hp and 593 lb-ft of torque in the GT63. The coupe is very quick down the track, with the GT63 model posting a 3.9 for the GT55 and 3.2 seconds for the GT63 model. With a maximum speed of 179 - 183 mph, the car is faster than the new Jaguar F-type.
Design and Dimensions
The 300SL was fashioned with a steel tubular frame with the door panels, rear boot lid, dashboard, and bonnet made from aluminum to help reduce weight. The car weighed over 2,800 lbs, which made it ideal for racing but heavy enough to handle street work. The 300SL is 178.1 inches long, has a stance of 70.5 inches, and a height of 51.2 inches, with a wheelbase of 94.5 inches.
The 300SL was produced as a Gullwing with its special doors but Mercedes converted the car to a roadster with conventional doors after slumping sales. The Roadster version was manufactured until 1963. During the almost decade-long production run, about 3200 models were made (1400 Gullwings - 1954 - 1957 and 1838 Roadsters - 1957 - ‘63).
The design of the 2024 is centered around active aerodynamics with its long snout and tapered rear end. The car channels the wind better than almost any other coupe on the market. With a length of 198.9 inches, a stance of 76.9 inches (without exterior mirrors), and is 57.3 inches tall. With a wheelbase of 116.2 inches, the coupe’s long profile and heavy weight (4,348 lbs) help provide excellent handling through curves at high speeds.
The interior of the 300SL that most customers opted for was leather, but Mercedes did offer three different colors of cloth seats should the customers wish. With its high-flying doors, the car was difficult to enter and exit, so owners had to be careful when they parked the car. The instrument panel consisted of two large dials, showing rpms and speed, with smaller gauges arranged below. With a large chrome metal strip accenting the dash, the dashboard was sparse but functional for a car made in the fifties. One of the significant features was that the steering wheel could be removed to aid entry.
The 2024 AMG-GT has an interior that many luxury owners have come to expect. Mercedes has taken pains to increase the comfortability of the car, with increased cargo space, massaging seats as standard equipment, and an 11.9-inch infotainment touchscreen dominating the center stack. The steering wheel is more compact than we like and is filled with driver buttons that can be intimidating the first time you look at them. While paddle shifters are there, along with cruise controls, audio buttons, and Bluetooth capabilities, you need a Doctorate to figure out what exactly does what.
Any safety discussion is unfair because no one in the fifties was concerned about car safety. Seat belts wouldn’t be required for another dozen years (although Mercedes started using them in 1958). The car did have four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes, but in late 1961, Mercedes started installing four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes.
The 2024 AMG-GT is far superior in safety features to its distant relative. The new coupe has all the standard components that owners have come to expect, including ABS, 8 Airbags (including knee bags), lane-keep assist, rear backup camera and parking assist, and front collision avoidance with pedestrian detection.
The 1955 SL300 Gullwing was priced at $6,868 (roughly $77k in today’s dollars). While the price will cost you much more than that (try $143 million), the 2024 AMG-GT prices $150k for the GT55 and about twenty grand more for the more powerful GT63. A hybrid is on the way, but as of yet, pricing has not been determined).