• SL glamour at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

History of the SL.

It could hardly get more exquisite than this: at the Monterey Car Week in the grounds of the Pebble Beach Golf Club, the most exclusive and spectacular classics in motoring history are presented, admired, awarded prizes year after year and sometimes even auctioned off. Mercedes-Benz will also be present with several vehicles this year (12 to 15 August 2021). The focus will be on the history of the SL. Examples of several generations of these fascinating sports cars will be on display at Pebble Beach – ranging from the 300 SL racing sports car from 1952 and the legendary 300 SL Roadster from 1957 to an SL 55 AMG from 2003. The tradition lives on: The latest SL generation (R 232) will come soon.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198). Exterior photo from front left. Monterey Car Week in Pebble Beach, 2017.

Good chances on the American market.

The birth of the SL sports car: Mercedes-Benz sports cars have a very close connection to the USA. Back in 1953, Max E. Hoffman was totally convinced that a sports car from Mercedes-Benz would have good chances on the American market. The brand’s importer for the eastern U.S. states travelled to Untertürkheim to promote his idea for extending the model line-up. 

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing sports car (W 194) from 1952 (left) and the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL prototype racing sports car (W 194) for the 1953 season. Exterior photo from front right. Monterey Car Week in Pebble Beach, 2012.

Best kept specimens.

The minutes of a board meeting on 2 September 1953 showed: “In the USA, people expect Mercedes-Benz, a company with a particularly good name in that country, to offer under all circumstances a sports car which alone can provide a basis for the existence of the dealer organisation.”

These discussions resulted in two models, the 190 SL (W 121) and the 300 SL (W 198). And Max E. Hoffman was proved right: in 1954 and 1955 alone, no less than 85 percent of the 996 300 SL Coupés built were exported to the USA. Throughout the entire production period, Mercedes-Benz delivered more than half of all its 300 SL to North America. The subsequent SL model series continued this success story. Many of the best kept specimens can be seen regularly in Pebble Beach.

Mercedes-Benz Classic is presenting six cars from its SL heritage in connection with the Concours d’Elegance:
  • Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing sports car (W 194) #5: It was in this car that Rudolf Caracciola, three-time European Champion of the Silver Arrow era from 1934 to 1939, took fourth place in the 1952 Mille Miglia. Hermann Lang, European Champion in 1939, finished second in the Carrera Panamericana in 1952 in this 300 SL.
  • Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 194) #11: the racing prototype further developed for the 1953 season – a one-off.
  • Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198), 1957
  • Mercedes-Benz 280 SL “Pagoda” (W 113), 1969
  • Mercedes-Benz 380 SL (R 107), 1982
  • Mercedes-Benz SL 500 (R 129), special model “Silver Arrow Edition”, 2002
  • Mercedes-Benz SL 55 AMG (R 230), 2003

Valuable classic cars.

It is not only Mercedes-Benz Classic that will be showing valuable classic cars during the Monterey Car Week, but also numerous other enthusiasts of the brand with the star. These models are expected:

  • Mercedes-Benz S Tourer (W 06), 1927
  • Mercedes-Benz SS Armbruster Cabriolet (W 06), 1927
  • Mercedes-Benz 680 S Saoutchik Torpedo (W 06), 1928
  • Mercedes-Benz 680 S Gangloff Sport 4 (W 06), 1929
  • Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer (W 06), 1929
  • Mercedes-Benz SS Erdmann & Rossi Roadster (W 06), 1930
  • Mercedes-Benz SSK “Count Trossi” Roadster (W 06), 1930
  • Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SSK Roadster (W 06), 1931
  • Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster (W 29), 1936
  • Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster (W 29), 1937
  • Mercedes-Benz 540 K “Autobahnkurier” (W 29), 1938
  • Mercedes-Benz 300 S Coupé (W 188), 1952
  • Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198), 1954
  • Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198), 1955
  • Mercedes-Benz 230 SL Pininfarina Coupé (W 113), 1964

Our experts from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center Irvine are also on site for you.

Mercedes-Benz 500 SL (R 107) from 1985. Exterior photo from left. Mercedes-Benz Classic Insight “Legend SL”, 2021.

Automotive elegance.

Concours d’Elegance celebrates its 70th anniversary: the competition for outstanding automotive elegance has been held every year since 1950 on the Pacific coast of California. The only exception was 2020, when the event had to be cancelled due to the Corona pandemic. This is why the 70th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, featuring 200 breathtaking cars and exquisitely and elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen, will take place on Sunday, 15 August 2021.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198). Exterior photo from right. Monterey Car Week in Pebble Beach, 2012.

120-kilometre trip.

Around the 18th hole of the golf course, cars will be awarded prizes, including the classic “Best of Show”. On the Thursday before, around 150 historic cars will be taking part in the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance, a scenic 120-kilometre trip that will demand a great deal of skill from the drivers due to its topography. Monterey Car Week events also include auctions. Usually around 100,000 visitors from all over the world come to the event.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198), driven by Sir Stirling Moss. Moving vehicle shot from the Monterey Car Week in Pebble Beach in 2012.

Image gallery.