Matthew Jones10 January 2012

Oldest Mercedes SL gets restored

The grandfather of SLs goes back on the road to mark 60 years of sport lightweights. Isn’t it pretty?

This is how Germans celebrate a birthday - take a very old, very knackered car and restore it according to the very highest standards of authenticity and quality.

As you'd imagine, it isn't some old snotter from the local scrap yard, it's the second-oldest Mercedes-Benz SL (the first was scrapped - HERESY!) and it's been restored to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Sports Lightweight.

This 300SL W194 - Mercedes' first post-war racer - was quite literally torn to bits at MB's Classic Centre in Fellbach, then every little component was examined with the German kind of punctiliousness, restored where necessary and then refitted.

Mercedes says: "The restoration of the bodywork was particularly tricky. It's made out of extremely fine aluminium/magnesium sheet metal, which, by its very nature, is extremely delicate. Time had also taken its toll on it in many places. It took the specialists around six months to bring the body shell... back to its former glory. The restoration... lasted ten months in all, which, in view of the extensive work involved, represented a very tight schedule."

So why (beyond the age thing) did Mercedes bother? Largely because the SL is a sporting legend. During its 1952 racing season, it took second and fourth places in the Mille Miglia, a threefold victory in the Prix de Berne sports car race, double victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, fourfold victory in the Nürburgring Anniversary Sports Car Grand Prix and a double victory in the 3rd Carrera Panamericana in Mexico. Which isn't a bad CV. And Gott in himmel, it's pretty.

We're guessing MB won't be in an enormous rush to test its 142mph top speed, though.

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