Chassis #: 194/07
Engine #: M 194/21
In 1951 Daimler-Benz decided to return to motorsports. The W194 was built in just nine months and marked the debut of the now famous 'SL' suffix, denoting Sport and Light. The space-frame structure consisted of a delicate lattice of numerous triangles and was extremely stiff and light. To achieve optimum strength, the frame was raised at the sides - a design that necessitated the use of the now legendary gullwing doors. Conceived by Rudolf Uhlenhaut, Head of Daimler-Benz's testing department, the 300 SL racing sports car boasted an impressively lightweight structure: the entire car was built around a welded steel-tube spaceframe chassis weighing only 110 pounds. The lightweight-yet-strong frame enveloped the passenger compartment, making traditional doors impossible - giving birth to the iconic gullwing doors, which became one of the most famous features on the production model of the 300 SL. The new race car was successful right from the start.
After second place in the 1952 Mille Miglia, which was its racing premiere, it scored a 1-2-3- victory in the Bern sports car race, followed by two 1-2 victories in the legendary Le Mans 24 Hour race and the even harder Carrera Panamericana Mexico, not to mention a 1-2-3-4 victory at the Nurburgring 25th Anniversary Race.
This car was constructed in 1952 for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and with a team of Hermann Lang and Fritz Riess driving, chassis 7 won the race, the first German car to achieve this result. After this victory Mercedes-Benz decided to produce a road-going version, the iconic 300SL'Gullwing' coupe.
The car featured here was the first of the 2nd group of type 194 cars constructed and completed in late spring of 1952 for use at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year. On the weekend of June 14-15, 1952, with the team of Hermann Lang and Fritz Riess driving, chassis 7 won the race, the first German car to achieve this result.
It was based on the success of this racer that Daimler-Benz was convinced by US importer Max Hoffman to produce a road-going version of this race car, the iconic 1954-57 300SL 'Gullwing' Coupe.
This is one of two W194s outside of the Mercedes Museum. The other one, 194/06, belongs to the same owner of this car. The current owner sent 194/07 to Mercedes-Benz Classic Center for restoration back to its original W-194 configuration. The original engine number 194/21 was obtained and reunited with the original chassis and the car was restored to its original Le Mans configuration.