Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

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Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
2003 Mercedes-Benz SL 500
Parent companyDaimler-Benz (1957–1997)
DaimlerChrysler (1998–2007)
Daimler AG (2008–present)
AssemblyBremen, Germany
ClassLuxury Grand Tourer
Body style(s)2-door coupe
2-door convertible
LayoutFR layout
ManualService Manual

The Mercedes-Benz SL is a roadster manufactured by Mercedes since 1954. The designation SL derives from the German Sport Leicht, or Sport Light — and was first applied to the 300SL 'Gullwing' named also after its "gullwing" or upward-opening doors.

The term SL-Class refers to the marketing variations of the vehicle, including the numerous engine configurations spanning five design generations.

1954 to 1962

Main article: Mercedes-Benz 300SL
First generation
1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe
Engine(s)1.9L I4
3.0L I6
Transmission(s)4-speed manual
Wheelbase2400 mm (94.5 in)
Length4520 mm (178 in)
Width1790 mm (70.5 in)
Height1300 mm (51.1 in)

The 300SL roadster succeeded the Gullwing in 1957. The 4-cylinder 190SL was more widely produced with 25,881 units, starting in 1955. Cars of the open SL-Class were available as a coupe with a removable hardtop or as a roadster with convertible soft top or with both tops. Production for the 190SL and 300SL ended in 1963.

1963 to 1971

Main article: Mercedes-Benz W113
Second generation
1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL
PlatformMercedes-Benz W113
Engine(s)2.3L I4
2.5L I6
2.8L I6
Transmission(s)4-speed automatic
4-speed manual

Next came the SL-Class 230SL, a new design with a 2.3 six cylinder engine, low waistline and big curved greenhouse windows, and a Coupe Roadster whose distinctive roofline earned the nickname "pagoda top." Around 1968 the engine received a displacement increase and the model became known as the 250SL. The last two years of production as the 280SL saw minor changes to switch knobs, and wheel trim rings became full hubcaps.

1972 to 1989

Main article: Mercedes-Benz R107
Third generation
1984-85 Mercedes-Benz 380SL with European headlights and bumpers
PlatformMercedes-Benz R107
Engine(s)5.5L V8

3.5L I6
4.5L V8 2.8L I6 3.8L V8 5.0L V8 4.2L V8 5.6L V8

3.0L I6
Transmission(s)4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
Wheelbase96.7 in (2456 mm)
Length180.3 in (4580 mm)
Width70.5 in (1791 mm)
Height51.1 in (1298 mm)
  • 350SL - 1971–1980
  • 450SL - 1973–1980
  • 280SL - 1974–1985
  • 380SL - 1980–1986
  • 500SL - 1980–1986

All updated 86-89 models have the advantages of the more modern 4 pot brakes, larger discs, and suspension derived from the W124 sedan. The body itself is built with a modern paint system designed to improve protection from rust.

  • 300SL - 1986–1989 Base model was available as standard in a 5-speed manual although very few were sold. The SOHC 6 cylinder M103 considered by many to have handling advantages with its lighter engine.
  • 420SL - 1986–1989
  • 500SL - 1986–1989
  • 560SL - 1986–1989 From 86 onwards the US, Japan and Australia received only this model.


Fourth generation
1999 Mercedes-Benz R129 SL500
PlatformMercedes-Benz R129
Engine(s)5.0L 302 hp (225 kW) V8
6.0L 389 hp (290 kW) V12
3.2L 228 hp (170 kW) I6
5.0L 315 hp (235 kW) V8
3.0L 228 hp (170 kW) I6
5.0L 322 hp (240 kW) V8
7.0L 496 hp (370 kW) V12
7.3L 525 hp (391 kW) V12
Transmission(s)5-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
Wheelbase99.0 in (2515 mm)
Length1997–2002: 177.1 in (4498 mm)
1989–1996: 176.0 in (4470 mm)
1992-96 V12: 178.0 in (4521 mm)
Width71.3 in (1811 mm)
Height1992–2002: 51.3 in (1303 mm)
1989–1991: 50.7 in (1288 mm)
Main article: Mercedes-Benz R129

The 1989 Mercedes SL base model was the 228 hp (170 kW) 3.0 L inline 6 300SL version in the US. In Europe the base model was the 190 hp (140 kW) 3.0 L inline 6 300SL with 12 valves, and the 228 hp (170 kW) 3.0 L inline 6 with 24 valves is known as the 300SL 24 . But it was the 322 hp (240 kW) 500SL (known as the 560 SL in USA) (with a 5.0 L V8 engine) which made the most headlines. The specification was high, with electric windows, mirrors, seats and roof.

1994 saw a mild facelift for the SL, and the 300SL was replaced in Europe by the SL280 and SL320 (with 2.8 L and 3.2 L I6 engines). The SL500 continued with the same powerful engine. A 389 hp (290 kW) 6.0 L V12 SL600 topped the range in 1993.

The SL320 replaced the 300SL in the United States in 1995, but the SL280 was not offered. The 6-cylinder SLs were dropped from the US lineup in 1998, leaving just the V8 and V12. The SL500 got a new 302 hp (225 kW) 5.0 L V8 for 1999.


1999 Mercedes-Benz SL73 AMG

The extremely rare SL73 AMG was sold through AMG in 1995, and at 525 bhp (391 kW) it offered the most powerful V12 engine ever put into an SL up to that time. After a brief gap, the SL73 was offered again from 1998 to 2001, although the engine was slightly updated to be more reliable. The same 7.3L V12 was later used by Pagani in the Zonda. A total of 85 SL73 AMG roadsters were built. The SL73 was briefly reintroduced in September 1999 following the SL's end of life facelift and a limited number were produced up until December 2001. The facelifted SL73 is the car that appears in the picture (below left).

Even more rare is the Mercedes-Benz SL70 AMG which was powered by a 7.0 L V12 engine.

The SL60 AMG was also extremely rare. Sold through MB from 1996 to 1998, it used a 6.0 litre V8 engine producing between 381 bhp (284 kW) and 384 bhp (286 kW). AMG claimed a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) speed of 5.8 seconds. Its top speed was limited to 155 mph (249 km/h), but with the limiter removed, it was capable of approximately 185 mph (298 km/h). AMG later unofficially admitted that 0-60 mph was closer to 5.0 seconds and the engine produced between 405-410 bhp.

The SL55 AMG was sold through AMG in the R129 bodystyle from 1998 to 2001 in limited quantity. It was the predecessor of the production R230 SL55 AMG sold from 2003 to 2008.

Only about 300 cars in the SL-class were customized by AMG prior to 2003.

2003 to 2008 models

Main article: Mercedes-Benz R230
Fifth generation
2003–2006 Mercedes-Benz SL 500 (US)
PlatformMercedes-Benz R230
Engine(s)5.5L 382 hp (285 kW) V8

5.4L 510 hp (380 kW) V8
5.5L 510 hp (380 kW) V12

6.0L 604 hp (450 kW) V12
Transmission(s)5-speed automatic
7-speed automatic
Wheelbase100.8 in (2560 mm)
Length178.5 in (4534 mm)
Width2005–present: 71.5 in (1816 mm)
2003-04: 72.0 in (1829 mm)
Height51.0 in (1295 mm)

In 2001, an all-new SL (initially just a 5.0 L SL500 version) featured a retractable hardtop (marketed as the Vario Roof) available on the SLK since 1997. A 5.0 L 302 hp (225 kW) V8 was optional, with a 5.4 L AMG V8 appearing in 2003's SL55 AMG. V12 engines are available in the SL600 and the limited-production SL65 AMG.


2007–2008 Mercedes-Benz SL 550 (US)

The following Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Roadsters are offered Worldwide for the year 2005. Prices are listed in US, 2005 dollars.

  • 2005 SL350 (Europe only)
    • 3.7 L (3724 cc) 18-valve V6 245 hp (182 kW) at 5,000 rpm 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) 7.2 s
  • 2005 SL500 Roadster
    • Driver-adaptive 7-speed automatic transmission with TouchShift control
    • Aluminum hardtop (automatic retraction: 16 seconds)
    • US$90,620
    • 5.0 L 24-valve V8 engine 306 hp (228 kW) at 5,600 rpm, 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) 6.1 s
  • 2005 SL55 AMG
    • Manual shift buttons
    • Sensotronic brakes with 8-piston front calipers
    • AMG Active Body Control suspension.
    • US$122,220
    • AMG supercharged 5.5 L (5439 cc) 24-valve V8 engine 497 hp (367 kW) at 6,100 rpm, 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) 4.7 s
  • 2005 SL600 Roadster
    • Active Body Control suspension
    • Sensotronic Brake Control with enlarged front and rear disks
    • Heated and ventilated multicontour seats
    • US$128,220
    • Twin turbocharged 5.5 L (5513 cc) 36-valve V12 engine 493 hp (367 kW) at 5,000 rpm, 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) 4.6 s
  • 2005 SL65 AMG
    • Power : 612 bhp / 435 kW
    • Torque : 1000 Nm / 738 ft·lbf
    • BHP/Liter : 102 bhp / liter
    • Top Speed : 250 km/h / 155 mph(electronically limited)
    • Top Speed : approx 338 km/h without electronically limitation
    • 0-100 km/h Acceleration : 4.2 s


Fifth Generation Facelift
Mercedes SL II.Facelift front.jpg
PlatformMercedes-Benz R230
Engine(s)3.5L 231 hp (172 kW) V6

3.5L 315 hp (235 kW) V6
5.5L 382 hp (285 kW) V8
5.5L 510 hp (380 kW) V12
6.0L 612 hp (456 kW) V12
6.2L 525 hp (391 kW) V8

6.0L 670 hp (500 kW)V12
Transmission(s)5-speed automatic
7-speed automatic
7-speed semi-automatic
Wheelbase2560 mm (100.8 in)
Length4562 mm (179.6 in)
Width7.5 mm (0.3 in): 1820 mm (71.7 in)
Height1317 mm (51.9 in)

The facelifted 2008 SL model was revealed in the Geneva Motor Show in March. The 2008 SL gets a new front end reflecting Mercedes's new design philosophy, with a pair of long powerdomes on the bonnet and a single-bar grille replacing the old three-bar effort. Also improvements have been made on the engines as the 3.5L V6 is uprated to 311 PS (229 kW; 307 hp) at 6500 rpm. Compared to the previous 3.5-litre engine, the output has been boosted by 16 percent. Torque has also been improved adding 10 N·m (7.4 lb·ft) to the previous 350 N·m (260 lb·ft) making it 360 N·m (270 lb·ft). this engine now can rev up to a max of 7200 rpm for a period as the oil temperature and other engine parameters permitting, a higher compression ratio, a new intake manifold and extensively modifying and lightening the valve train. In this case, however, the extra power does not come at the expense of fuel economy: with a consumption figure of 9.9 litres per 100 kilometres, the new SL 350 undercuts the previous model developing 200 kW (272 PS; 268 hp) by 0.4 litres per 100 kilometres. Mercedes-Benz is extending the SL-Class line-up by introducing an attractive entry-level model in the shape of the SL 280 developing 170 kW (231 PS; 228 hp). The six cylinder powerplant delivers its peak torque of 300 N·m (220 lb·ft) from 2500 rpm and accelerates the roadster from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.8 seconds, whilst fuel consumption (NEDC) is just 9.4 L/100 km (30 mpg-imp; 25 mpg-US). It will feature the AIRSCARF heating system used in the SLK.


The facelifted SL loses AMG's 5.4L M113 in favor of the newer M156 6.2L V8 used in the S63 AMG, CLK63 AMG and C63 AMG. It produces 525 PS (386 kW; 518 hp) at 6800 rpm and 630 N·m (460 lb·ft) of torque at 5200 rpm. It can accelerate from rest to 100 km/h (62mph) in 4.6 second going up to a limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). The SL63 AMG also includes the new AMG-developed 7-speed MCT "Multi Clutch Technology" semi-automatic transmission.

The new MCT transmission is essentially the 7G-Tronic transmission without a torque converter. Instead of a torque converter, it uses a compact wet startup clutch to start the car off, and also supports computer-controlled double declutching. The MCT (Multi-Clutch Technology) acronym refers to a planetary (automatic) transmission’s multiple clutches and bands for each gear.[1]

The MCT is fitted with four drive modes: “C” (Comfort), “S” (Sport), “S+” (Sport plus) and “M” (Manual) and boasts 100 millisecond shifts in "M" mode. the new car features the new AMG DRIVE UNIT with innovative Race Start function. The AMG DRIVE UNIT is the central control unit for the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission and all driving dynamics functions. The driver can change gears either using the new AMG selector lever with its leather/ carbon-fibre finish, or by nudging the AMG steering-wheel shift paddles. The new Race start Function is a launch control system which enables the SL 63 AMG driver to call on maximum acceleration, while ensuring optimum traction of the driven wheels. A modified version of the SL 63 is the safety car for the 2008 Formula One season.

The new SL65 AMG Black Series coupe features a carbon-fiber fixed roof, front fenders, hood, trunk lid and front and rear aprons. With the absence of retractable roof hardware, the car is more than 550 pounds lighter than the standard SL. AMG placed a modified version of the 6.0-liter AMG V12 engine that now delivers 670 bhp (500 kW) and 738 lb·ft (1,001 N·m) of torque. Its twin turbochargers are 12 percent larger, passages for intake air and the turbo wastegates have been modified, and the intake air intercooler is 30 percent more efficient. The result is 0-to-60 mph (97 km/h) acceleration of 3.8 seconds, and an electronically limited top speed of 198 mph (319 km/h).[2]



The 2001 Mercedes Benz SL Class won European Best Interior Design award.

The Mercedes SL-Class won the coveted ‘Most Technologically Advanced Car of the Year’ award from AutoCar Magazine and CNBC TV.

The Mercedes SL-Class won the equally coveted ‘Best Designed Car of the Year’ awards from AutoCar Magazine and CNBC TV.

External links