1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL
Moving on, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL is an automotive icon, and not just for its distinctive roof-hinged doors. The car was a winner on the track and a blast to drive on the street.
The production version was introduced in New York on February 6, 1954. It was based on a racecar that debuted two years earlier. The competition version saw great success in campaigns ranging from Italy’s Mille Miglia to the Bern Grand Prix. In its opening season it even took home gold and silver medals in a little competition called the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
At its launch, the automotive press was bowled over by its looks, driving dynamics and comfort. Germany’s Auto, Motor und Sport called the 300SL a “dream car,” while British journal AutoSport said its performance was “virtually unbelievable.”
Propelling this car into the history books was an inline six-cylinder engine. Pretty standard fare for the time, but with direct fuel injection it delivered a 215 hp wallop.
In its day the 300SL was one of the fastest cars on earth. Top speed was about 250 km/h, roughly 155 miles an hour.
The original production run lasted from 1954 until 1957. All told 1,400 examples were manufactured of which 30 featured lightweight aluminum bodies. Understandably, these command huge prices today. A prime example will set you back about three-quarters of a million dollars.