While the names and specs differ, the best Mercedes-Benz sports cars have one thing in common - legendary performance. The German carmaker has made a name for itself with its lineup of luxury sedans and rugged SUVs. Over the years, it has also found time to create sports cars that are every bit as powerful and as advanced as the best of them. Evolving with the advancements in technology, Mercedes-Benz sports cars have grown to record setters in performance and style.
Furthermore, there has always been a model that outshines the rest of the pack at every step of the evolution. These flagship models sport the latest technologies, the wildest style, eye-popping performance, and the highest price tags. Follow us on a journey to discover what Mercedes-Benz's flagship cars looked like over the years.
10 1951-1954: 300S
The Mercedes-Benz 300S was a 2-door luxury sports tourer that was introduced at the Paris Salon in 1951 and produced until 1958. Offered in coupe and convertible body styles, the hand-built flagship was elegant, expensive, and showcased the best of Mercedes-Benz's craftsmanship.
Under the hood, an advanced and reliable high-performance 3-liter inline-6 engine cranked out 150 hp, which a 4-speed manual transmission routed to the wheels. In 1955, the engine got a new mechanical direct fuel injection which raised output to 173 hp, and the rear suspension was changed to a low pivot independent suspension.
9 1954-1957: 300SL Gullwing
The iconic Mercedes-Benz 300SL, introduced in 1954 as a Gullwing coupe, is a sports car that needs no introduction to gear heads. Based on the W194 race car, it was designed to be lightweight and had a tubular frame construction on a steel chassis with an aluminum hood, doors, and boot lid.
Although its top speed of 163 mph was the fastest back then, what set it apart from other cars was the styling. Priced at $6,820, it was well-received and had its best year in 1955 when 856 units were moved.
8 1963-1971: 230 SL/250 SL/280 SL
The 2-door Mercedes-Benz W113 Series was developed, based on the W11 sedan platform, to replace the 300 SL (gullwing and roadster) and the 190 SL. Debuting in March 1963 at the Geneva Motor Show, the 230 SL was introduced as a safe and fast sports car that offered driving comfort.
Living up to the hype, it could hold its own against more powerful cars on the track before it was replaced by the short-lived 250 SL. Arriving in 1968, the 280 SL was more of a comfortable grand tourer than a sports car but it sold well until it was discontinued in 1971.
7 1993-1998: SL 60 AMG
In a production run that lasted from 1989 to 2001, the Mercedes-Benz R129 SL was offered in many variants including the SL 60 AMG. Built from 1993 to 1998, it was one of the high-performance variants of the R129 SL and the most produced of them all.
Powered by a 376 hp V8, it could hit a limited top speed of 155 mph and speed limiter removed, about 185 mph. Elegant, rare, and exclusive are some of the words to describe a car that can be driven either like a limousine or a supercar.
6 1998-2001: SL 73 AMG
The boys at AMG had quite a time in the '90s as they were busy turning everyday sports cars into extraordinary performance cars. Setting their sights on the SL 600 in 1998, they worked their magic and created the short-lived SL 73 AMG.
Living up to its name, the SL 73 AMG was powered by a 7.3-liter V12 power plant that was so potent that it eventually made its way into the Pagani Zonda. Although it looks like a normal R129 from the late '90s, there is nothing normal about it, and with a production run of 85 units, it is rarer than a Pagani Zonda supercar.
5 2003-2009: SLR McLaren 722
One cannot expect anything but the best when two heavyweights in the automotive industry join forces to create a sports car. When the collaborating giants were Mercedes-Benz and McLaren, and the car itself was inspired by the 300 SLR racer; enthusiasts were driven wild with expectations.
While the standard McLaren SLR didn't disappoint on arrival, the 722 model that came later was more powerful, faster, and incredibly rare. The name "722" paid homage to the 7:22 start time of a 1955 race that Stirling Moss won in a Mercedes Benz 300 SLR racer.
4 2008-2011: SL 65 AMG Black Series
The SL 65 AMG Black Series, unveiled in 2008, is the pinnacle of AMG's treatment of the Mercedes Benz R230 SL Class. Part of the treatment is a huge body kit that gives it a more aggressive appearance and hints at what the car is capable of.
If the standard SL 65 AMG, backed by 604 ponies was mean, the Black Series with 661 hp on tap was plain sick. Limited to just 350 units, the Black Series was everything it was developed to be, a high-performance machine with explosive power delivery.
3 2014: SLS AMG Black Series
The SLS AMG arriving in 2010 as a replacement for the SLR McLaren, was inspired by the 300 SL Gullwing. For its last year of production, the SLS AMG was given the highest AMG honor to make sure it went out with a bang.
Visually, the Black Series commanded attention with its gullwing doors and sleek styling, while under the hood, it housed one of the most powerful naturally aspirated V8s in a production car. Inspired by the SLS AMG GT3 race car, it was the fifth car to wear the Black Series badge, and what's more, it packed the fury of a supernova.
2 2017-2021: AMG GT R
As the SLS AMG was being seen off, Mercedes-Benz unveiled a worthy successor, the AMG GT, at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. For the 2017 model year, one of the wildest high-performance variants, the AMG GT R, made its way into the lineup.
Being a more track-focused car, some of the features found on other versions of the AMG GT are absent to keep the weight down. It came with chassis and aerodynamic enhancements to give it a competitive edge over rivals like the Porsche 911 GT3.
1 2021: AMG GT Black Series
Described by Mercedes-AMG as unorthodox, untamed, and ultimate, the AMG GT Black Series is a unique piece of machine with impressive credentials. It features a unique and vastly enhanced suspension while most of the body is made from carbon fiber to keep the weight at a minimum.
To complement its aerodynamic refinement, it comes with a twin-turbocharged V8 that churns out 720 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. In November 2020, the AMG GT Black Series proved itself on the Nurburgring with a record-setting 6:43.616 lap time with Maro Engel behind the wheel.