Mercedes-Benz cars have never ceased to be relevant as they are a prime example of timeless class and beauty. But in Mercedes-Benz’s history of more than 100 years, there are a few cars that stand out as legends in the automobile world.
The Mercedes-Benz cars that we see and love today are the direct descendants of the very first modern automobile in the world (in case you do not know, it was the Benz Patent-Motorwagen patented by Karl Benz in January 1886). For more than a century, the vehicles from the German maker have never stopped being in the front line of innovation, quality, luxury, and design. From heavy-duty trucks to the most sought-after sports cars, Mercedes-Benz has produced almost every kind of cars out there. And among the more than 200 vehicles that the maker has created, there are 5 models of Mercedes-Benz in particular that have stood the test of time and acquired the “icon” status.
1. Mercedes-Benz 500K (1934 - 1936)
Mercedes-Benz 500K was introduced to the public in 1934 at the Berlin Motor Show. The “K”, which was short for Kompressor (German for supercharger), was added to the name because Mercedes-Benz already had a sedan named “500” back then. The name of Mercedes-Benz 500K, though simple, was really fitting for a powerful performance car.
Even though it was built before the Second World War, the design of 500K is so classic that many consider the vehicle one of the most beautiful cars ever made. The high-end coachwork was sophisticated, satisfying customer’s need for both performance and luxury. While it could only accommodate two people, the comfort and luxury that Mercedes-Benz 500k gave was almost unparalleled at that time, and, perhaps, even today, too.
Mercedes-Benz 500K is widely considered as having one of the most beautiful designs in the history
Mercedes-Benz 500K drew power from a 7.0-litre or a 7.1-litre engine, which allowed the car to travel pass 160 km/h (100mph). That speed may look somewhat subpar when compared to today’s supercars, but in the 1930s, it was extremely rare.
During the 3 years the 500K was in production, only 342 cars were made, including 29 “Special Roadsters”. Because of the scarcity, the exquisite look, and the iconic nature of the car, Mercedes-Benz 500K is one of the most expensive collector cars nowadays. One 500K Special Cabriolet was put up at auction in 2007, and it fetched a whopping amount of USD 1.45 million (approximately Rs. 10.36 crore).
Mercedes-Benz 500k remains one of the most highly-prized cars till date
2. Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (1954 - 1963)
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was a coupe with gullwing doors from 1954 to 1967 and then became a roadster from 1957 to 1963. The most notable feature of the 300 SL was probably the eye-catching gullwing doors. While this feature was loved by many, the reason why it was created in the first place was not an intentional choice in any shape or form. Actually, the roof-hinged gullwing doors were sort of an “accidental” necessity, because the bodywork of the car was retracted to make the car more streamlined and the result was that conventional doors could not be fitted in the frame. Then, what was an “accident” became the car’s signature element, and Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was often called the “Gullwing”.
The gullwing doors of Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was created out of necessity, but they turned out to be the signature element of the car
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was powered by a 3.0-litre Straight-six engine that allowed the car to accelerate from 0 to the top speed of 260 km/h (162 mph) in 9.3 seconds - incredible performance in the 1960s.
The car has been the favourite vehicle of many famous owners such as the Last Shah of Iran - Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Tony Curtis, Sophia Loren, Clark Gable, Ralph Lauren, Adrian Conan Doyle, Pierre Trudeau, and Justin Trudeau. Being known as the sports car of the 20th century and one of the greatest sports car in history, it is the status-symbol cars and has been well-loved by many till this day and age.
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL is voted the sports car of the 20th century and is widely regarded as one of the best sports cars of all time
3. Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (1955 - 1963)
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was a fantastic car; we all know that. But with extraordinary design and exceptional performance came a crazy price tag. So, in order to enable more people to enjoy the wondrous creation of the SL line, the automaker decided to introduce the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL at the 1954 New York Auto Show as the slightly more affordable version of the exclusive 300 SL. The two cars shared the same style, engineering, detailing, and the suspension system. However, there were still some differences in the 190 SL that set it out from the original 300 SL.
Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was offered as a normal roadster with an optional removable hardtop. Buyers at that time could also choose to include the optional third transverse seat or keep the car a classic two-seater.
Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was available with an optional removable hardtop
In terms of performance, the engine of the 190 SL was a bit lacklustre compared to that of the 300 SL, but the driver could not complain much, because Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was designed to be less expensive. Nonetheless, the driving and handling experience was still flexible and pretty fun. The 190 SL was powered by a 1.9-litre single overhead camshaft inline four-cylinder engine mated to a 4-speed manual. The four-cylinder engine produced the max power of 105 PS (77 kW; 104 hp) at 5700 rpm, and the max torque of 142 Nm (105 lb-ft) at 3200 rpm.
Mercedes-Benz 190 SL’s engine is not as powerful as the 300 SL’s one, but still provides a great driving experience
4. Mercedes-Benz 300D (1957 - 1963)
Mercedes-Benz 300D was a four-door luxury tourer that was in production from 1957 to 1962. The 300D was the most spacious, expensive, and exclusive car back then; the today’s equivalent would be a luxury Maybach vehicle.
The 300D had more or less the same price and features as the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, but the Mercedes-Benz’s creation was superior regarding performance. Therefore, there was little question as to why Mercedes-Benz 300D was highly favoured by businessmen and statesmen. In fact, the 300D was particularly so well-loved by the first chancellor of West Germany, Konrad Adenauer, that the Chancellor purchased a total of six 300D’s during his time in the office. Because of the strong association with the Chancellor, Mercedes-Benz 300D got its informal name as “the Adenauer”.
Chancellor Konrad Adenauer highly favoured Mercedes-Benz 300D, hence the name “the Adenauer”
Mercedes-Benz 300D had a unique hardtop configuration as it could be transformed into a pillarless phaeton. The car had an additional 4 inches of wheelbase, so even if the passenger had the legs of Slenderman, he or she could rest assured that sitting in the 300D was a comfortable experience.
The Adenauer got power from a 3.0-litre single overhead camshaft inline-6 engine that produced 180 PS (132 kW; 178 hp) at 5500 rpm.
Luxury, style, comfort, and power - Mercedes-Benz 300D has everything
5. Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (2003 - 2010)
Mercedes- Benz SLR McLaren was a collaboration between German carmaker Mercedes-Benz and British automobile manufacturer McLaren Automotive. The initial objective of Mercedes-Benz was to create a sports car that had the image and power of a true race car, so the company joined forces with its Formula One partner, McLaren, and the rest was history.
Mercedes- Benz SLR McLaren was one extremely expensive with a USD-4,50,000 (approximately Rs. 3.2 crore) price tag but it was worth every penny. The design of SLR McLaren was fluid and dynamic with a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic body, featuring the legendary gullwing doors, making the car a mobile work of art in every sense of the word.
Mercedes- Benz SLR McLaren was a beautiful streamlined work of art that you could sit in
Yet the highlight of the car had to be the technical side as Mercedes- Benz SLR McLaren employed many state-of-the-art technologies. The car was equipped with Sensotronic Brake Control (a special type of brake-by-wire system that used carbon-ceramic brake discs), an automatic spoiler mounted on the rear integral air brake flap for better aerodynamics, and rear diffuser for improved downforce.
The SLR McLaren drew power from a hand-built 5.4-litre V8 engine which was mated to an AMG SPEEDSHIFT R five-speed automatic transmission with three manual modes. The powerful combination allowed the SLR McLaren to achieve the speed of 97 km/h (60 mph) from 0 in just 3.3 seconds. The car also had the highest top gear acceleration in a production car, with 48 - 80 km/h (30 - 50 mph) acceleration time of 1.7 seconds and 80 - 113 km/h (50 - 70 mph) acceleration time of 2.4 seconds.
Mercedes- Benz SLR McLaren claimed the crown in top gear acceleration