The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR (W196S) was a 2-seat sports racer that took
part in the World Sportscar Championship before a catastrophic crash and
fire at Le Mans ended its domination prematurely.
Designated "SL-R" (for Sport Leicht-Rennen, eng: Sport Light-Racing,
later condensed to "SLR"), the 3-litre engine was derived from the
company's Mercedes-Benz W196 Formula One racer. It shared most of its
drivetrain and chassis with the 196's fuel-injected 2,496.87 cc straight
8 bored and stroked to 2,981.70 cc and boosted to 310 bhp (230 kW).
The W196s monoposto driving position was modified to standard
two-abreast seating, headlights were added, and a few other changes made
to adapt a strictly track competitor to a 24-hour road/track sports
Two of the nine 300 SLR rolling chassis produced were converted into 300
SLR/300 SL hybrids. Effectively road legal racers, they had coupé
styling, gull-wing doors, and a footprint midway between the two models.
When Mercedes cancelled its racing programme after the Le Mans disaster,
the hybrid project was shelved. Company design chief Rudolf Uhlenhaut,
architect of both the 300 SLR racer and the hybrids, appropriated one of
the leftover mules as his personal driver. Capable of approaching 290
km/h (180 mph), the Uhlenhaut Coupé was far and away the fastest road
car in the world in its day.