Like fashion designers, car companies love to dip into their pasts for inspiration (or outright appropriation). Few models make such an obvious target as the startlingly beautiful 1950s 300 SL Gullwings. With rounded corners and signature doors hinged at the roof, good examples will go at auction for around $500,000.
Designed to be visually subtle, the SLS AMG can go unnoticed when parked or rolling by. The long hood and small gill-like vents are understated, and the car’s rear design is quite unimpressive. Swooping taillights and remarkably small badges on the backside seem to almost be an afterthought, but they’re small for a reason. The SLS doesn’t want to grab your attention until it’s ready. When you open the modern gullwing doors, the interior’s red leather and carbon fiber dash gleams in the sunlight; start the engine, and only then will everyone on the block want to know your name.
Aesthetically, the SLS AMG is a subtle tip of the cap to the 300 SL, and for the most part, the SLS stands on its own design merits. Those merits just happen to be inside the car, under the hood and bellowing out the exhaust pipes when you lay on the gas.
The original 300SL 215hp (160kW) 3.0L straight six ; was the first production car to use direct fuel injection — it injected gasoline directly into its cylinders using an engine-driven pump. It started as a racing car in the early ’50s before becoming a production car – in coupe and then roadster form – between 1955 and 1963. It’s now one of the most collectible Mercedes cars ever built.
Power is ferocious. It’s impossible not to hear the call of the autobahn when you fire up the 6.3-liter V-8 with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It’s rough and rumbly but not brashly loud, emitting burbling pops and snarls as the transmission downshifts. The 563 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque will thrust to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds.