Space frame construction and dry sump lubrication were advanced technologies for the 300SL gullwing, but it also had old technologies.
Iain Tyrrell is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to classic cars. This is due to the success of his shop’s YouTube channel. Tyrrell’s classic workshop. They recently had a 300SL Gullwing for overhaul and it was a very special version. And as Tyrrell walked around the car and described the car’s building philosophy, he found that Mercedes was actually behind the curve in some ways.
Many of us, including Tyrrell, could see this 300SL as one of the first super sports cars in the world. And while it had a space frame chassis and dry sump lubrication, some post-war circumstances led to interesting aspects. “It’s pretty unusual for Mercedes to use drum brakes when British sports cars have been using them since the early 1950s,” notes Tyrrell.
The Mercedes 300SL had an unusual mix of advanced and aged technology
But that’s not all. When it came to the fuel system, it was further developed as direct injection. But the parts that made up the system were out of date. Tyrell explains, “They turned to leather cones because those were the materials they had at the time.”
The reason we at MBWorld like to use this information is that you never know when this knowledge may be lost. Now when you look at a 300SL, its historical significance is cemented by originalityand now you know that leather membranes are required for any restoration. But also Tyrrell mentions one of the seagull’s biggest selling points; Rudge wheels.
Center-spline wheels have been used in racing cars for a number of years, with the “knock-off” splined hub being popular for its quick and easy tire changes. Rudge wheels were factory fitted in only 130 or so 300SL cars, although many were rebuilt. Interestingly, Tyrrell says, “They’re heavier than the factory steel wheels and have more unsprung weight.” This in turn degrades performance. However, this is offset by the current desirability. A 300SL equipped with a Rudge wheel could sell for $ 150,000 higher than a standard gullwing.
So the next time you show up at your local auto and coffee event, you’ll know exactly if it’s “just another” 300SL.