Top 10 Mercedes-Benz Cars of All Time

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

Mercedes-Benz is one of the oldest automobile manufacturers in the world.

In fact, many credit Karl Benz with creating the world’s first proper automobile in 1886. Suffice to say, if a company can trace its roots back 129 years, you can bet that it has created a lot of legendary machinery, so narrowing it down to a list of just 10 is extremely difficult. It’s like picking the 10 best New York Yankees of all time or Gretzky’s 10 best goals ever. But nonetheless, here are our picks for the top 10 Mercedes-Benz cars of all time.

10. 2008-2011 Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series

Copyright: Mercedes-Benz USA; Photo 1559215_08c538_003 Comment: 2009 SL65 AMG Black Series

The Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG was a monster of a roadster. With a 6.0-liter turbocharged V12 engine, the hardtop convertible produced a whopping 740 lb-ft of torque. But Mercedes wasn’t done with the SL 65. The company decided to take things a step further with the Black Series.

Horsepower was bumped up from 604 to 661 hp. The car dropped a staggering 550 pounds, the bodywork was wider and more aerodynamic and the transmission had a new, faster reacting manual mode. Completing the performance upgrades were massive brakes stuffed behind equally massive wheels and tires.

9. 1964 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman

In 1963, Mercedes introduced an ultimate luxury sedan called the 600, available in short and long wheelbases. And when we say long, we mean stretched limo long. Called the Pullman, the long wheelbase had a fifth and sixth seat installed behind the front row facing rearward.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best European Sports Cars of the ’80s

The car was so big and heavy that Mercedes had to build an all-new 6.3-liter V8 engine just to power the beast. But the most notable feature of the car had to be the hydraulic system that controlled the seats, doors, windows and sunroof.

The Pullman could even come as a convertible…in long-wheelbase form!

8. Mercedes-Benz C111

It may be a bit unusual to see a concept car on a list of best vehicles ever produced, but the C111 is an icon for Mercedes-Benz. Originally intended as a test bed for a future rotary engine, the wedge-shaped C111 looked very different than contemporary Mercedes when it appeared in the 1960s.

Over the next decade, various engines would power the C111, including a few diesels. It would also beat a whole swath of speed records as the years rolled by. Although the C111 never made it to production, its legacy and iconic status were enough for Mercedes to introduce a C112 concept car in 1991. Sadly, that car was never built either.

7. 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II

The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II was built for one purpose – to beat the BMW M3 in DTM racing. This special version of the compact 190E sedan came equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 16-valve engine developed in conjunction with Cosworth. Developing 232 hp, the Evolution II was as fast as it looked.

And it looked fast. The Evolution II incorporated a special body kit installed on the 190E 2.5-16. Easily recognizable due to its massive rear wing, the kit not only added downforce, but also reduced drag to help on the racetrack.

6. 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss

What’s better than a sexy supercar with gullwing doors made in conjunction by Mercedes-Benz and McLaren? One that that is a homage to 300 SLR race car that Sir Stirling Moss used to dominate sports car racing in 1955.

Lacking a roof or a windshield, the SLR McLaren Stirling Moss was a street legal car. And like the classic 300 SLR, the new Stirling Moss tribute could even have a cover installed over the passenger seat compartment.

Keeping with other special variants of the SLR, the 5.4-liter supercharged V8 had power bumped up to 640 hp.

5. 1928-1932 Mercedes-Benz SSK

The SSK is Mercedes-Benz’ first real sports car. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since it was designed by none other than Ferdinand Porsche. Yes, that Porsche.

Based on a shortened version of the S roadster, the SSK was lighter and more nimble. Power came from a mammoth 7.0-liter six-cylinder engine that was supercharged to produce anywhere between 200-300 hp depending on the exact vehicle’s tune. For 1928, that was a ton of horsepower, which led to the vehicle’s racing success. Even more impressive was the engine’s ability to produce more than 500 lb-ft of torque.

4. 1886 Mercedes-Benz Benz Patent-Motorwagen

This isn’t just one of the most important vehicles in Mercedes-Benz’s history, it’s one of the most important vehicles in history, period. First revealed in 1886, many historians around the world credit this as the first proper automobile ever made.

The three-wheel vehicle was powered by a 1.0-liter one-cylinder engine mounted at the back. It powered a singular rear wheel to the tune of two-thirds of a horsepower. As the years rolled by, Karl Benz would continue to improve on his invention, eventually turning it into the start of the successful automobile company we see today.

3. 1991-1994 Mercedes-Benz 500E

The 500E is widely regarded as the ultimate Mercedes-Benz sports sedan. Based on Mercedes’ mid-sized sedan, the 500 E included a wider track front and rear, an upgraded suspension and larger brakes at all four corners. Power came from a 5.0-liter V8 engine that produced 322 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque.

What made these cars so special was the build quality. Developed in a joint venture between Mercedes and Porsche, each 500E was actually hand built by Porsche. Of course, the 500E wasn’t just fast, it was also luxurious, fitted with all the latest technology of the time.

2. 1998-1999 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR

Back in the days of the FIA GT1 class of racing, the top tier of sports cars had to be based on an actual road car. This led to a few crazy limited-production vehicles during the mid to late ’90s, including the CLK GTR.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best BMWs of All Time

Only 26 road-going versions of the CLK GTR were ever produced, with a few winding up as convertibles. Despite the name, the GTR shared nothing in common with the regular CLK coupe aside from a few styling cues. The CLK GTR featured a V12 engine mid-ship that was enlarged to 6.9-liters in size for the road car. Power was rated at 604 hp and 572 lb-ft of torque.

Everything about the GTR was race ready and very little creature comfort was built into the car. Fast and expensive at the time, the value of these cars has only gone up.

1. 1954-1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

Every automaker has an icon and for Mercedes-Benz, the 300 SL is easily the feather in its cap. Available as a coupe or a roadster, it inspired, in one way or another, all three of Mercedes’ modern supercars, the SLR McLaren, SLS AMG and AMG GT. So why is this little sports car from the 1950s so legendary?

Well, simply put, because it’s the total package. There’s no denying just how gorgeous this car is from every angle. And the designed-for-function gullwing doors only add to the vehicle’s allure. But, more importantly, in 1954, the 300 SL was one of the fastest cars available anywhere.

Powered by a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine producing 212 hp, the 2,400-lb coupe could reach a reported top speed of 161 mph. More importantly, every other aspect of the car’s design was intended for ultimate performance – earning it the title of a race car for the streets.

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November 23rd, 2021 – Realigned Images. Updated 2008-2011 Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series text for accuracy. Updated 1964 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman text for accuracy. Updated Mercedes-Benz C111 text for accuracy.

Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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5 of 16 comments
  • JSP JSP on Aug 12, 2015

    300 SEL 6.3, The 1955 300SLR, 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet, 300GD (Gelandewagen), 230 SL (Pagoda roof), the 300S Convertible (Adenauer), any of the pre and postwar Silver Arrows. I could go on.

  • Squashy1 Squashy1 on Aug 14, 2015

    Top 10 for what reasons...looks, engine performance, handling, luxury, interior, mileage? No objective criteria given. 1999 E320 is the best car I've ever had. I wouldn't fit in some of those cars.

    • Eric Dee Eric Dee on Sep 05, 2015

      I feel much the same about my 1999 S320. Like they built it just for me. Onll real mod. was changing the brake lines to stainless steel.