1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe

With its eight-cylinder, 2982-cc engine developing up to 310 horsepower, this Silver Arrow was capable of a maximum speed in excess of 300 km/h – enough to power it to glory in all the top road races of 1955. The Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, Tourist Trophy, Eifelrennen and the Swedish Grand Prix – the 300 SLR won them all.

The spirited lines of the body, with its elongated bonnet, were complemented by the striking proportions of the side-mounted exhaust pipes, the air vents and the wire-spoke wheels. The cockpit, with its curved wraparound windscreen, was elegantly sculptured. Rudolf Uhlenhaut referred to his latest automotive work of art as a ‘hot-heeled touring car’, and the 300 SLR Coupé lived up to its billing. Weighing only 1117 kilograms yet developing 310 horsepower, the Uhlenhaut Coupé accelerated to a maximum speed approaching 290 km/h in testing (the manufacturer’s data showed a top speed of 284 km/h). This made the two-seater the fastest car of its time to be registered for use on public roads, as well as ‘one of the most exciting cars that Mercedes-Benz has ever built,’ as motorsport guru Karl Ludvigsen later observed.

However, the lightning-fast SLR Coupé never made it into series production. The Stuttgart-based car maker felt that the mid-1950s was not the right time to bring out a powerful sports tourer of this kind, leaving the road version of the SLR to fall into oblivion. As Mercedes pulled out of motorsport in 1955, the SLR Coupé project was put on ice. Only two prototypes of this masterpiece of power and elegance were ever built and yet this wonderful car had still become a legend in its own right.

In Detail

tagsgullwing, 300sl, w198
submitted byRichard Owen
typeSeries Production Car
engineType M 196 S, Twin Spark Inline-8 w/Dry Sump Lubrication
positionFront Longitudinal, 53 Degree Inclination To The Right
valvetrainDOHC, 2 Valves per Cyl w/Desmodromic Valve Gear
fuel feedMechanically Controlled Petrol Direct Injection
displacement2982 cc / 182.0 in³
bore78 mm / 3.07 in
stroke78 mm / 3.07 in
power231.2 kw / 310.0 bhp @ 7400 rpm
specific output103.96 bhp per litre
bhp/weight277.53 bhp per tonne
torque317 nm / 233.8 ft lbs @ 5950 rpm
body / frameElektron Body over Steel Tubular Space Frame
driven wheelsRWD
front tires6.00×16
rear tires7.00×16
front brakesInboard Duplex Drum Brakes w/Power Assist
rear brakesInboard Duplex Drum Brakes w/Power Assist
front wheelsF 40.6 x 15.2 cm / 16.0 x 6.0 in
rear wheelsR 40.6 x 17.8 cm / 16.0 x 7.0 in
steeringWorm & Sector
f suspensionDouble Wishbones w/Torsion Bar Springs, Telescopic Shock Absrobers,
r suspensionSwing Axles w/Longitudinal Torsion Bar Springs, Telescopic Shock Absrobers
curb weight1117 kg / 2463 lbs
wheelbase2370 mm / 93.3 in
front track1330 mm / 52.4 in
rear track1380 mm / 54.3 in
length4350 mm / 171.3 in
width1750 mm / 68.9 in
height1210 mm / 47.6 in
transmissionRear Mounted 5-Speed Manual
gear ratios2.67:1, 1.75:1, 1.43:1, 1.07:1, 0.83:1
final drive2.222:1
top speed~284 kph / 176.5 mph