The three-pointed star. Whether it appears on the car hood as an ornament or a fisted-sized logo protruding out of an SUV’s grille, the Mercedes-Benz insignia is instantly recognizable, and justly so. Mercedes can trace its roots back to the first contemporary automobile, and it has made just about every single type of vehicle conceivable. From luxury sedans to humble taxis, and from trucks to Formula One race cars, Mercedes has done it all. Out of the innumerable models to wear the three-pointed star, here is a list of the 10 greatest Mercedes-Benz cars of all time
BENZ PATENT MOTORWAGEN
Even though it technically predates the creation of the Mercedes-Benz brand, the Benz Patent Motorwagen is the genesis of Mercedes and the contemporary car in general. In 1888, Bertha Benz, who is the wife of the car’s creator, Carl Benz, drove it from Mannheim to Pforzheim, Germany. The trip proved that internal combustion automobiles could be practical.
The SSK took to the tracks in the late 1920s and 1930s, and helped to establish Mercedes’ reputation as a manufacturer of performance cars. The car was an evolution of the Mercedes-Benz S (for “Sport”) with a short wheelbase anticipated to make it more competitive in hill climbs. The SSK won plenty of those, in addition to the famous Italian Mille Miglia. Today, original cars are rare collectibles, prompting several companies to make SSK replicas.
The initials “SLR” stand for “Sport Leicht Rennen” or “Sport Light Racing” in English, and that puts in a nutshell this world-beating race car. The SLR was released in 1955 as Mercedes was still upgrading from World War II. British driving legend Stirling Moss legendarily drove it to victory at the famous Italian Mille Miglia race, but the SLR’s career was short. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year, Pierre Levegh’s SLR plowed into the grandstand, killing Levegh and dozens of spectators in the most fatal catastrophe in motor-sport history.
300 SL “GULLWING”
The 300 SL is the road car that jumpstarted Mercedes after World War II, and today it is arguably the brand’s most iconic automobile. A potent inline-six engine and racing pedigree helped, but what cemented the iconic status are the roof-hinged “Gullwing” doors. They were, in fact, necessary as the SL’s spaceframe chassis did not leave enough room for conventional doors, and they became the vehicle’s signature component.
Launched in the year 1963, the 600 was Mercedes’ attempt to take on the likes of Rolls-Royce and Cadillac with a money-no-object car. Much like today’s S-Class, the 600 highlighted luxury and gadgetry over cost and consistency. For instance, where other car developers used electronics to operate things like power windows, the 600 made use of hydraulics. Today, the 600 is perhaps best known as the preferred car of dictators, giving it a somewhat contentious heirloom.
300 SEL 6.3
To produce this cult-classic sports sedan, Mercedes applied the American muscle-car formula, making use of the largest engine accessible to upsurge performance. After being badgered for developing boring cars by a journalist, engineer Erich Waxenberger put the 6.3-liter V8 from the 600 into the smaller SEL body. The result was the fastest sedan of its time as well as the prototype for Mercedes’ present line of AMG performance models.
Also famously known as the Gelandewagen (or G-Wagen, for short), the G-Class is a true locomotive oddity. Originally designed as a military vehicle, it became the SUV of choice for daring rich people, along with the Pope. The original design has been in production for more than 38 years now and was well-liked for its old-school feel and off-road competence. Mercedes embellished the G-Wagen with everything from AMG performance versions, to a “Landaulet” transformable, to a version with six wheels. The restructured G-Class, which hits showrooms for the 2019 model year, has a lot to live up to.
90E 2.3-16/2.5-16 COSWORTH
The performance version of Mercedes’ 190E compact sedan certainly wins the prize for the most awkward name. These numbers refer to the 2.3-liter (later upgraded to 2.5-liter), 16-valve four-cylinder engine designed with help from racing firm Cosworth that was at the heart of this car. Designed to take on the BMW M3, the 190E 2.3-16 earned a remarkable tally of victories in German touring car racing.
The SLS sports car was the first automobile which was built from the ground up by Mercedes’ AMG performance division. The coupe introduced Gullwing doors as an homage to the 1950s 300SL, but Mercedes also offered a convertible for purchasers seeking something less flamboyant. A hefty 6.2-liter V8 gave the SLS a muscular, old-school character. Mercedes made an electric version as well using 751 horsepower!
The AMG GT was the descendant to the SLS AMG, and in many ways, it is a more mature car. Mercedes nixed the Gullwing doors, made the car smaller, and bartered in a more fuel-efficient 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8. The result is one of the most well-rounded sports cars presently on sale, offering thrilling performance and remarkable road manners.