The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (chassis code W 198) is a two-seat sports car which was produced by Mercedes-Benz as a gullwinged coupe (1954–1957) and roadster (1957–1963). It was based on the company's 1952 racer, the W194, with mechanical direct fuel injection which boosted power almost 50 percent in its three-liter overhead camshaft straight-six engine. Capable of reaching a top speed of up to 263 km/h (163 mph), it was a sports car racing champion and the fastest production car of its time.
Max Hoffman, Mercedes-Benz's United States importer at the time, inspired the 300 SL and saw an American market for such a car. The company introduced the 300 SL in February 1954 at the International Motor Sports Show in New York City (instead of Europe) to get it into US buyers' hands sooner.
SL is the short form for "super-light" in German (super-leicht) – Mercedes' first use of the designation, referring to the car's racing-bred light tubular-frame construction. The 300 SL was voted the "sports car of the century" in 1999.