The year is 1954. North America is fearful of the communist threat, and a Coca Cola costs 5 cents. The common family car barely reaches 100 mph, yet our desire to reach for the stars burns a fiery passion into the masses. The space race is on and it’s either us or the Soviets. American cars are rife with fins and jet inspired design, but can barely go around a slight bend. Max Hoffman, an American Mercedes importer, suggests that a production version of the W194 Grand Prix car would be a hit in North America. Mercedes Benz makes the gamble, and the 300 SL is created and embedded as one of the most ground-breaking vehicles of its day. With a direct fuel injection 3 liter straight six, and an incredible top speed of 155 mph, this space ship for the road signified everything great about the Western World’s technological advancements and ran directly beside our desire to be the best and first.
Fast forward to 2010. Mercedes’ in-house tuning firm creates its first ground up vehicle, the SLS AMG. With a front mid mounted 6.2 Liter V8, dry sump lubrication to keep the center of gravity low, Dual Clutch 7 Speed Speedshift transmission and a lightweight aluminum frame, created was a car truly deserving of the SLS (Sport Leicht Super) nameplate. With a top speed of 197 mph, a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds and a quarter mile time of 11.7 seconds at 125 mph, the SLS carries the spirit of the original 300 SL with a punch that you feel by just glancing at its sleek aluminum body. This particular car, a Roadster, carries an additional 88 lbs of weight over the coupe derivative, a small price to pay for 10,000 miles of headroom and a chance to experience the unadulterated AMG machine gun exhaust first hand.
A car reviewer for a small BBC car program once referred to the SLS as “The greatest car in the world”. That’s probably true, but the creation of the SL has always been more than that. It cements everything great about us as humans. Our desire to reach for the stars. To take chances. To live our lives free. Everything that let the Western World beat the Soviets to the moon is embodied into the soul of the SLS. This may be the greatest car in the world, but to drive one, you may realize what makes being human truly great.
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