And it’ll be inspired by the iconic 300SL Gullwing… in spirit.
“A UFO,” is how the original Mercedes-Benz 300SL, affectionately referred to as the Gullwing on account of its swing-up doors, impacted the public and the automotive industry when it first arrived on the scene back in the 1950s. And rightfully so – while the world was used to seeing Packards & DeSotos with their bulky proportions, here was this lithe, sleek, and unbelievably imaginative machine that bore its most amazing trait as its name: Super-Leicht (or Sport-Leicht depending on who you talk to).
Of course, later iterations of the SL kind of lost track of ‘Super-Leicht’ and instead became ‘Super-Lardy,’ with the current generation of the SL pretty damned fat. It went from a sports car that could also tour, to a grand tourer that just happens to look like a sports car. The current generation is a great example of that, having been designed to be the über-coupe of the Mercedes-Benz lineup until it was usurped by the S-Class coupé & cabriolet.
We were resigned to thinking that the days were numbered for the SL, having been superseded and outdone as a large luxury coupé by the proper S-Class, but it seems that Mercedes themselves have other ideas. Refreshingly, they’ll be retaining the SL badge, and returning it to its former glory. Least, that’s what the Daimler AG design boss wants us to think.
“Even though I have spent 20 years in the company, I have never done an SL. Except for the next one that will come, which will be the closest to the nicest SL, which to me is the 300SL. [It] was like a UFO.” – Gorden Wagner, Chief Design Officer, Daimler AG
Any of you hoping for Gullwing doors, a design hallmark of the SL that was born out of the necessity to accommodate unusually high door sills, will be sorely disappointed.
“Of course not [a gullwing, rather] a completely new design. Not a retro design, but the DNA & spirit of the 300SL for the new car. I can just say that the future of the SL will be very, very bright.” — Gorden Wagner, Chief Design Officer, Daimler AG
That was about all the media could get out of Wagner at the fringes of the CES show in Las Vegas, where they launched the new-generation CLA, but it sounds only half-promising. A bright future, sure. But can it also be light too, please?