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The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (chassis code W 198) is a two-seat sports car that was produced by Mercedes-Benz as a gullwinged coupe (1954-1957) and roadster (1957-1963). It was based on the company’s 1952 racer, the W194, with mechanical direct fuel-injection which boosted power almost 50% on its 3-litre overhead camshaft straight-6 engine. Capable of reaching a top speed of up to 263 km/h (163 mph), it was both a sports car racing champion and the fastest production car of its time.
The 300 SL was inspired by Max Hoffman, Mercedes-Benz’s authorized United States importer at the time, who correctly perceived a large American market for such a car. The company introduced the 300 SL in February 1954 at the International Motor Sports Show in New York instead of in Europe in order to get it into U.S. buyers’ hands sooner.