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This guide celebrates ten post-war classics from the marque of Mercedes-Benz Models.
Mercedes-Benz 300S Cabriolet
The first post-war luxury design from Mercedes-Benz was the prestigious and hugely expensive six-cylinder 300 Series. The saloon was launched in 1951, and a year later it was joined by the splendidly equipped 300S Cabriolet. Mercedes regained its reputation for highly sophisticated large-capacity cars with the 300, but sales were very limited with only 560 300S cars and 200 300SCs being built.
Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe
Basically the world's most advanced production car when launched in 1954, the 300SL used a dry-sumped version of the Mercedes 300 series sohc 2,996cc straight-six engine. Good for around 140mph (225km/h) and 0-60mph (0-100km/h) in 8.8 seconds, the model was the first to used direct fuel injection. In 1957, the 300SL roadster, with soft-top and conventional doors, took over from the gull-wing model.
In 1961 the Mercedes 190 and 190D (four-cylinders, 1897cc, 75 and 50 bhp respectively) were given new bodies, following the lead set by the design of the 220. The new body was longer, larger and lower than before and had slight tail-fins. From 1963 on, the 190 was equipped with disc brakes and a twin-circuit hydraulic system. Total 190c production from April 1961 to August 1965 was 130,554.
Mercedes-Benz 220SE Cab
The elegant fintail W111/W112 coupes and cabriolets were a styling triumph for Paul Bracq, the French designer who had joined Daimler-Benz in 1957. The 220SE cabriolet was offered from September 1961 and like its coupe counterpart, was a very luxuriously equipped motorcar. A total of 16,902 coupe and cabriolet 220Seb models were produced to October 1965 before replacement by the 250SE.
The last derivative of the 1963 to 1971 SL-series was the 280SL of 1968. This had a 2,778cc six-cylinder engine, now giving 170BHP and an increase in performance over the earlier models. The styling of the Type W113 models was derived from that of the saloon cars, and whilst retaining the clean understated lines, they were subtly lighter in mood. Total production of the 230 / 250 / 280 SL range was 48,912 cars.
Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3
The most exciting Mercedes sports-saloon of the 1960s was the incredible 300 SEL 6.3. The brainchild of Erich Waxenberger, development chief at Mercedes-Benz at the time, it involved squeezing the massive 6.3-litre V8 engine of the 600 model into the engine-bay of the standard 300 series car. Looking almost identical to the standard 3-litre car, the 6.3-litre version could be identified by its twin circular headlamps and wider wheels and tyres.
In 1968 the "New Generation" Mercedes were introduced with petrol engines of four (200,220) or six-cylinders (230,250). The 200D and 220D were offered as the diesel versions. The new 200 saloon was the least expensive car of the fifteen models of the New Generation class. Emphasis was placed on safety rather than performance with a body designed for maximum crash resistance. Total 200 model production - 288,775 units.
Mercedes-Benz announced their new generation W116 S-class saloons in 1972 as the 280S, 280SE, 380SE and 450SE. These were bigger, faster, safer and more comprehensively equipped than the models they replaced. The 450SEL 6.9 was added to the range in 1975 with, among other things, hydro-pneumatic suspension. Total production of the eight-cylinder 350 SE between August 1972 and September 1980 was 51,140.
Mechanically identical to the two-seater SL models, the SLC (Sports Light Coupe), introduced in 1971, had fixed-head coupe bodywork, allied to more head room, longer doors and two rear seats. Although a little heavier than the two-seaters (by a surprisingly low 110Lbs), this did little to affect the performance. The 450 SLC was introduced in 1972 and the 450SLC 5.0 appeared in 1978.