Let’s go back to March 12, 1952, at that time a company named ‘Daimler-Benz AG’ sends out a letter to important magazines with the following content:
The new MERCEDES-BENZ “300 SL” (super-light) sports car model will be undertaking road trials in public for the first time this week. We are therefore delighted to enclose the technical data for this vehicle, together with a photo.”
This single line of text would announce a global sensation, the iconic sports car, and a sensational race car, the 300 SL would be driven on the open road for the first time in history, setting the stage for one of the most important models from Mercedes for the next decades.
Fast forward to March 2021, and the eighth generation of the Mercedes SL range is going into the final stages of development, and while we no longer see many prototypes being tested on the open road as they did in 1952, the new Mercedes-AMG SL is taken to Sweden to be tested in extremely cold conditions.
We all know these days a new car is being developed ‘virtually’ on a computer before the first mock-up is built, and only after several more months of simulations, they finally build a rolling prototype, which usually hides underneath the previous generation at first, to make sure the chassis, suspension, engine, and brakes are good to go, and then we get pre-production prototypes only in very final stages of development.
And while the virtual world and all those simulations might save a lot of money and time, nothing beats getting into a seat behind an actual steering wheel and taking a prototype into the real world, in real-world driving conditions like heat, rain, cold, and snow … still in those final stages of development for a new model, the testing is usually done on enclosed tracks with a lot of security, to keep the new car a secret for as long as possible.
The final tuning of the fully variable 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system, for instance, now offered for the first time in the SL, is undertaken in wintry regions. The redesigned soft top, too, has to prove itself in the harsh conditions that prevail near the Arctic Circle. The handling dynamics of this iconic Roadster, set to make its debut later this year, will soon undergo final refinement on the north loop of the Nürburgring, amongst other places. On the most challenging racing circuit in the world, specialists from Mercedes-AMG will ensure that this latest iteration of the SL draws more than ever on its sporting roots.
When this new Mercedes Roadster becomes available, the different models will all be named Mercedes-AMG name, but the almost 70 years of history of the ‘SL’ name will still retain the core values from so many decades ago: a unique design, exclusivity, and exceptional levels of quality and luxury. The story started in 1952 but it continues to be written into the future.