Last week’s photo showed the newly revamped Mercedes-Benz SL550 roadster. For a better photo and details, read this week’s road test.
Chosen randomly from the correct entries was Larry Anderson, of Perry, Fla., who wrote: “The pop-up roll bar makes it the safest convertible made. (A perfect car for a man experiencing a midlife crisis!)
“The first-ever SL was a race car, totally unlike its contemporary sports/racing cars of 1952. With its innovative tubular space frame, teardrop-shape aluminum body and gullwing doors, the 300SL caused a stir in the motor sports world.
“Winning both Le Mans and the famed Carrera Panamericana that year made the 300SL race car’s debut season a sensation. The SL has been known throughout the world as a class sports car ever since.
“Midlife crisis or not, I would love to have one of these to cruse around in!”
Anderson wins a prize from The Augusta Chronicle. Other readers identifying the Mercedes-Benz were:
AUGUSTA: Willie Thomas and Paula A. Reese
CANTON, GA.: David Anderson wrote: “Debuting in 1954, the Mercedes SL had previously been designed specifically for the racing circuit. In fact, it is the very sub-framing chosen to give overall strength to the car and to support its all aluminum body that led to those infamous roof-mounted gull-wing doors.
“Purportedly, the doors could not be hung in standard swing-out fashion without compromising the tube subframe, so the decision was made to hang them from the roof – never mind how the driver would be extracted from a crash should the car wind up on its roof! In its race form, the original SL was wildly successful and, as far as I know, no driver ever had to be extracted from a ‘turtled’ crash.
“This success led to the 1954 introduction of the more civilized street-legal version for retail sale. Only available as the gullwing coupe, the body was no longer all aluminum and without the need for that 100-mph crash-worthy subframe, the doors were cut further down into the sides of the car.
“On the race car version, the door sill was so high on the car, the driver practically had to be a gymnast to get into the driver’s seat. The street-legal version is somewhat easier to enter.
“Now in its sixth incarnation, the SL can be had as both the iconic gullwing coupe or as a roadster with a fully automatic retractable hardtop. … This is not a car for the faint of heart – or bank account.”
EVANS: Wayne Wilke wrote: “It is made mostly of aluminum and comes with a 429-horsepower, 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine. It still retains many of the styling cues from the late ’50s gullwing SL models, which contributes to the thought that its styling is timeless. Perhaps its timelessness is a subliminal message in the fact that you did not request the model year. The selling price is $110,000.
PJ Rodgers wrote: “It appears to be a sixth-generation Mercedes-Benz SL; I’d say the SL550 roadster.”
Jerry Paul wrote: “This week it appears to be a Mercedes-Benz SL class. Nice ride – but a bit pricey!”
FRANKLIN, N.C.: Dale Sanford wrote: “The car pictured is a 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 roadster.
“I wonder why Mercedes didn’t change the model name to SL470 roadster since it has the smaller engine. I guess that would be a little too confusing for this leaner, meaner sports car.
“At 105,000, I don’t think I will have to worry about that really bothering me!”
MARTINEZ: Bill Harding wrote: “So, do I have an extra hundred and five grand lying around to buy this gorgeous Mercedes-Benz SL convertible? No, I don’t. I’ll have to leave that to wealthy guys, such as multi-millionaire Jim Muraski, with whom I used to work. He’s a guy who never misses your weekly ‘What Is It?’ and who always answers correctly!”
Surely enough, Jim Muraski correctly identified the car, as did J.J. Miller.