The Mercedes-Benz 300SL was introduced in 1954 as a two-seat, closed sports car with distinctive gull-wing doors. Later it was offered as an open roadster. It was the fastest production car of its day.
The road model was suggested by Max Hoffman. Being intended for customers in the booming post-war American market it was introduced at the 1954 New York Auto Show, unlike previous models introduced at either the Frankfurt or Geneva shows. In Mercedes-Benz fashion, the "300" referred to the engine's three litre cylinder displacement. The "SL" stood for "Sport Leicht" (Sport Light).