Friday, 23 January 2015

Mercedes 300SL

Here are models I had never really looked at very closely before. For some reason I didn't have them in my collection nor recall seeing them in anyone else's apart from one that had been battered so much that it was silver but more base metal silver than any paint silver!

The first versions came out in Summer 1958 in open top form with the hard top following in Spring 1959. In 1961 #303 and #304 became #303S and #304S with addition of  suspension. This wasn't always obvious as it wasn't the type of suspension you'll have been accustomed now to seeing. The base was still a black tin plate and a casual observer would think it was the first version. It does work well, though, and a lot better than some later types! 

Because many people selling these without much of an idea, however, you may need to check carefully before buying.

The #304S is also one of the very few models which had flat hubs that were free-spinning and not fixed. It will also be found with the hubs the other way round, probably the more commonly encountered in later models.

The hardtop never did get an interior. Supposedly, it got wire wheels in 1964 but I have yet to find one. The same with the open top which appears in catalogues with wire wheels too and they look great. My version has cast spoke effect wheels which must be quite a late edition. I didn't realise that they made this wheel design at the time these were being produced but clearly they were or this is a very end of run version.

I am pretty sure that all the silver ones will be the S models. Drivers were added to the open top in around 1962 so you'll find them with or without a man. #304 can be found in all yellow (scarce) or yellow with a red top. #304S came in white as well as silver, both with a red top.

#303 could be white, cream or blue and interiors change between blue, yellow or brown. #303S could be those colours or silver and, I believe, all the silver ones had a brown interior. 

Both models are listed in the 'Competition Cars' section of catalogues. I suppose that suits the ones with stripes (most have them affixed) but it really doesn't look like the right category with that chap in a sports jacket behind the wheel!

Nice models of a truly classic car. Many real ones are still around too.

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