Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is a series of automobiles with some of the most prestigious nameplates in the motor industry. The designation, which means "Sport Light" or in German, Sport Leicht, first appeared on the 1954 300SL 'Gullwing' so nicknamed because of its passenger doors which opened upwards.
The 300SL roadster succeeded the Gullwing in 1957. The 190SL was more widely produced with 25,881 units, starting in 1955. Cars of the open SL-Class were available as a coupe with a removeable hardtop or as a roadster with convertible soft top or with both tops. Production for the 190SL and 300SL ended in 1963.
1963 to 1971
Next came the SL-Class 230SL, a completely new design with a low waistline and big curved greenhouse windows. Also a Coupe Roadster, the distinctive roofline earned the nickname "pagoda top." Around 1968 the engine received a displacement increase and the model became known as the 250SL. The last two years of production as the 280SL saw minor changes to switch knobs, and wheel trim rings became full hubcaps.
1972 to 1988
- 350SL (was actually a 4.5 L, in 1973 the badge was changed to reflect this)
- 450SL (rubber 5 mph bumpers added)
Specification was high, with electric action for the windows, mirrors, seats and hood.
1994 saw a mild facelift for the SL, and the SL300 was replaced in Europe by the SL280 and SL320 (with 2.8 L and 3.2 L I6 engines). The SL500 continued with the same powerful engine. A 389 hp (290.1 kW) 6.0 L V12 SL600 topped the range in 1993.
The SL320 replaced the SL300 in the United States in 1995, but the SL280 was not offered. The 6-cylinder SLs were dropped from the US lineup in 1998, leaving just the V8 and V12. The SL500 got a new 302 hp (225.2 kW) 5.0 L V8 for 1999.
The extremely rare SL73 AMG was sold through AMG in 1995, and offered the most powerful V12 engine ever put into an SL up to that time. After a brief hiatus, the SL73 was offered again from 1998 to 2001. The same 7.3 L V12 was later used by Pagani in the Zonda.
Only about 300 cars in the SL-class were customized by AMG prior to the 2003 model year.
As the new millennium approached, the SL was a decade old and customers were turning to more modern cars like the Jaguar XK8, but there was still no denying the Mercedes exclusivity. The impressive equipment list kept getting longer as the years passed, as did the £50,000+ price tag.
In 2003, an all-new SL (initially just a 5.0 L SL500 version) went on sale, boasting the electric folding steel roof which had been seen on the smaller, cheaper SLK in 1997. A 5.4 L 302 hp (225.2 kW) V8 was optional, with a 5.5 L AMG V8 appearing in 2004's SL55 AMG. V12 engines are available in the SL600 and the limited-production SL65 AMG.
2005 SL models
- 2005 SL350 (Europe only)
- 3.7 L (3724 cc) 18-valve V6 245 hp (182.7 kW) at 5,000 rpm 0-62 mph (100 km/h) 7.2 s
- 2005 SL500 Roadster
- 2005 SL55 AMG
- Manual shift buttons
- Sensotronic brakes with 8-piston front calipers
- AMG Active Body Control suspension.
- AMG supercharged 5.5 L (5543 cc) 24-valve V8 engine 476 hp (355 kW) at 6,100 rpm, 0-62 mph (100 km/h) 4.7 s
- 2005 SL600 Roadster
- Active Body Control suspension
- Sensotronic Brake Control with enlarged front and rear disks
- Heated and ventilated multicontour seats
- Twin turbocharged 5.5 L (5513 cc) 36-valve V12 engine 500 hp (372.8 kW) at 5,000 rpm, 0-62 mph (100 km/h) 4.7 s
- 2005 SL65 AMG
- 5-speed automatic transmission with AMG SpeedShift programming
- AMG 8-piston composite calipers brakes
- 19 in dual spoke AMG wheels
- AMG-built twin-turbocharged 6.0 L (5,980 cc) SOHC 36-valve V12 engine 612 hp (456.4 kW) at 5500 rpm
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