Old wings

When describing a piece of art there are a lot of difficulties to face and to overcome. The main drawbacks of such a singular task are tacitly expressed by the incapability of the vocabulary of any language to describe the deepest feelings. How we could express just in a few lines the emotion we feel when listening to a Chopin’s nocturne, or the feelings that arise in our inner self by contemplating a Van Gogh’s painting? It is a difficult task indeed but gratifying at the same time, because despite the scarcity of the language to describe such feelings, we could, at least, share part of this feelings, we could share a unique moment with you, our reader.

I am facing today one of those challenges. Everything started some days ago, when the fate played its mysterious and silent role, putting in my hands some original pictures from 60’s. What it was depicted in such pictures, was nothing but a Mercedes-Benz 300SL and the person who showed these photos to me was its owner time ago. It was then when I felt the necessity to write about that automobile, but… what to write? There are a lot of references, tests, articles, books and documents devoted to the ‘Gullwing’, talking about it more accurately and with more knowledge than I could ever have. But, nonetheless, there was this feeling pushing me to write some lines about one of the most desirable cars on Earth. And, as feelings are the cause of this, I will keep talking about them.

The first thing that attracted my attention was how the passage of time was imprinted on the pictures. This turned obvious just by looking at the degraded paper. But, precisely, this degradation is what turns these pictures into something unique, because they show the amazing technological piece of art this car is in a much better way than any modern photography, just because a matter of contrast. If we forget for a moment that the 300SL was built between 1954 and 1963, these pictures could be depicting a modern supercar with some photographic post-processing techniques applied to them so they look old. A modern supercar but with that kind of refined and elegant touch reflected in well-balanced proportions and harmonious shapes. The shiny bumper competing with the rings of its round headlights and the beautiful emblem of Mercedes-Benz dominating the front-end; The side gills making easier for the engine to breathe, a 3 litre 6L engine, the first one with direct fuel injection; The aerodynamic wheel arches, matching the shapes of the bonnet and, of course, the doors, those magical doors that invite us to fly to a world of speed (this automobile was the fastest one of its time) and of danger (the high figure of deadly crashes, makes it worth the nickname of ‘Widowmaker’).

We can see in the pictures some amazing details typical of this elegant and refined creation, such as the leather suitcases made to measure the space behind the seats and secured by leather belts, or the beautiful two spoke steering wheel. These are the details that talk about the true spirit of the automobile as a piece of art and not just as a mean of transport. The Mercedes-Benz SL300 was and still is a technological miracle and a marvel of the design that could never be imitated. Its legend is still getting bigger because the revolution this car was in the past is still alive in its shapes and in the patina of refinement that the years have imbued in its body. The 300 ‘Sport Leicht’ is still in the dreams of many supercar lovers, inviting them to take a ride around the beautiful Lago di Como or by running the Mille Miglia.

I have finally fulfilled my desire of writing about this car, even if it was a short text. Hopefully I could share with you some of my feelings when I look to these pictures. I would like to thank deeply to the person who showed these pictures to me, for letting me to publish them and for sharing with me her memories of a time when she was sitting behind the steering wheel of such sublime automobile. Thank you.