“The best or nothing.” This is the slogan that Gottlieb Daimler is said to have used to inspire his workers in the late 1800s. Today, it’s still an ideal slogan for Mercedes-Benz.
In 1970, Janis Joplin was singing “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?”. And as recently as 2011, Kanye West was singing about the brand, with lines like “Last week I was in my other, other Benz” and “He gon’ make it into a Benz out of that Datsun.”
The times may have changed, but owning a “Merc” or a “Benz” remains one of the world’s most sought after expressions of achievement.
So which Mercedes-Benz models are the best of all time?
The 300 SLR
Topping just about every list is the 300 SLR, a two-seat sports racing car with a 3-litre engine boosted to deliver an incredible (for the time) 310 horsepower.
The 300 SLR owed much of its design to the Mercedes-Benz W196 Formula One racer, but was the first race car to include air brakes. It was also known for its iconic “gull-wing” doors.
Mercedes team driver, Stirling Moss, drove the 300 SLR to victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia – a round of the World Sportscar Championship. He described the car as “the greatest sports car ever built.”
The Gullwing 300 SL
The inspiration for the 300 SLR was the non-racing version, the 300 SL two-seat coupe, introduced in 1954. The 300 SL was the first production car to feature direct fuel injection, with a 3.0 litre overhead cam straight-6 engine. It was also the fastest production car of its time – a “racing car for the street”.
It was with the 300 SL that Mercedes first introduced gull-wing doors. The vehicle’s chassis design featured extra tubes for stiffness, and these made it necessary to raise the sills of the doors – with very stylish results.
The 540K Special Roadster
Launched in 1936, the 540K Special Roadster was definitely ahead of its time. With its enormous, 5.4-litre, supercharged engine, it could deliver 180 horsepower – a good 80 horsepower ahead of its fastest competitors.
The car also featured four-wheel independent suspension and a stylish design by Hermann Ahrens.
Today the 540K is one of the most highly valued collector cars, recently selling for as much as $9.9 million at a Sotheby’s auction.
600 Pullman Landaulet
© image via Wikimedia Commons
Produced from 1963 to 1981, the 600 Pullman Landaulet has featured owners ranging from the Pope to Fidel Castro; from Mao Zedong to Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Taylor and Aristotle Onassis; from Saddam Hussein to Kim Jong-il. This despite the fact that fewer than three thousand of these luxury sedans were ever produced.
Features of the 600 Pullman included a convertible cloth top over the rear seat; hydraulic windows, doors and trunk; and – reputedly – the loudest ever horn for a production vehicle.
300 SEL 6.3
© image via Mad4Wheels
In production from 1968 to 1972, the luxurious and powerful 300 SEL 6.3 paved the way for Mercedes-Benz’s modern S-Class of vehicles. Its 6.3-litre V8 engine delivered 250 horsepower and massive torque, getting the huge vehicle from zero to 60 miles per hour (96.5 km/p) in just 6 seconds.
Other features of the model included ventilated disk brakes at all four corners, air suspension, power windows and power steering – quite something for 1968.
2013 S-Class AMG sedans
© image via Wikimedia/Mr Choppers
The 2013 S-Class luxury sedans aren’t the latest in Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class, but they still appear to be topping lists as the best. Top Gear assigned these cars a best in class award, and describes them as ” the one Audi, BMW, Lexus, Cadillac and even Jaguar and Maserati must define themselves by and be measured against.”
The 2013 S-Class models feature either a V6 or V8 engine along with all the latest tech – from LED lights and LCD displays to a “Magic Body Control” road-sensing system, hydraulic fully active suspension, advanced driver assistance systems and 7-speed automatic transmission.
At Masterparts, we stock a simply enormous range of Mercedes-Benz parts and spares, for models including those in the A, B, C and E series, the CLS, CLK and CLA series, the ML series, the Actros, Atego, Sprinter, Viano and Vito ranges, and the S series.