The 300 SL was a road-going version of W198 racing car with extensive modifications to the body. The 300 SL in coupé form was introduced by Mercedes in 1954, featuring its trademark gullwing doors. In 1957, the roadster succeed the coupé and had the larger conventional passenger doors and larger form-fitting headlamps and was in production until 1963.
Corgi released their first version of the car in 1958. To my mind it is not a success. The W198 Mercedes is a magnificent car, the Corgi does it no justice at all. There are loads of releases of this model over the years. After the first August 1958 release as a roadster It is released again in April 1959 as a hardtop. They are both given another trip out a couple of years later with added suspension and a couple of further releases with a driver added and finally in 1964 with wire spoked wheels - although I've never seen one of those, I've just seen mention of it in the Great Book of Corgi. There is a 1980s Corgi Toys release in 1:36 scale which is OK: Hardtop, Corgi Classics had a go at it in the 1990s in 1:43 scale and although the newer model is better, it is still not that good: Roadster,
The original 303 open sports without suspension was sold from 1958 to 1960. it is found in off-white with blue seats, cream with blue seats or blue with white or yellow seats, they are all valued quite highly with the off-white cars being the most sought after. It was replaced in 1961 with the updated 303S which had suspension.
This is the first appearance for the Mercedes 300SL in the hardtop version. I'm not sure how good the model is in terms of being a detailed replica of the real car, but it certainly gets to the essence of the beast. It is very very stylish. The 300SL was number 303 as an open sports and 304 with the roof. Early cars have no suspension and are just 304, in 1961 they gained suspension, but no seats and were renumbered 304s. The suspension is unique to these cars in that it is a single butterfly spring fitted laterally to each axle. These are known to stick so it can appear that a later 304s car has no suspension. The 1959 release is always yellow and can have a red hardtop or a yellow hardtop. The all yellow 304 is hard to find and consequently worth a lot more.
304s Hardtop With Suspension
The suspension on the 300SL is unique in the Corgi range. They retain the tin bottom and instead of lateral wires or plastic extensions from interior or bright trim as used on some later models, this one has a butterfly spring for each axle mounted cross-way. It can be stiff and prone to rusting up which is what had happened here. After doing a bottom-off restoration on a 303s open sports I looked again at this model and found, contrary to my initial thoughts that it actually does have suspension.
The 304s release gets silver vacuum plated bodywork and red top with a matching racing stripe and number, it can also be plated in gold. It was released in March 1961 and deleted in 1963
303s Roadster With Suspension
The history on this car is not that easy to sort out, to the best of my knowledge in 1961 it gained its unique springs described above. In 1963 it got a driver and in 1964 it got spoked wheels. You will see it in white, off white, shades of blue and plated silver. The interior can be blue, yellow or brown, it may or may not have a driver - in a grey suit with a red bow tie, it may or may not have a racing stripe and racing numbers.
|Corgi Toys 303; Mercedes-Benz 300SL Open Sports; Off-White, Blue Seats||Corgi Toys 304; Mercedes-Benz 300SL Hardtop; Yellow, Red Hard Top||Corgi Toys 304s; Mercedes-Benz 300SL Hardtop; Silver Plated, Red Hard Top||Corgi Toys 303S; Mercedes-Benz 300SL Open Sports; Blue, Yellow Seats, Red Racing Stripe||Corgi Toys 303S; Mercedes-Benz 300SL Open Sports; Off White, Blue Seats|