Mercedes-Benz Celebrates 55 Years of Open-top Driving

The new Mercedes-Benz SLK, for which the carmaker is accepting orders from January 17, 2011, not only continues the story of the show car from 1994, but its roots extend even further, to the 190 SL model from 55 years ago.

The roadster evolution at Mercedes-Benz started in February 1954 when, after just five months of development, the 190 SL celebrated its world premiere in New York, alongside the legendary 300 SL "gullwing".

Series production started in May 1955. The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was built up until 1963, with no less than 25,881 cars leaving the assembly lines during the production period.

Then, in April 1994, roadster enthusiasts were able to have a first glimpse of how Mercedes-Benz believed a compact roadster should look with the SLK study presented in Turin. A second study was presented at the Paris Motor Show held in September of the same year, this time with vario-roof and in the form of a customised version.

By 1996 everything was in place: the series production version of the new SLK, designated internally as the R 170, was launched at the Turin Motor Show. Using an intelligent electro-hydraulic system, the entire roof folded down into the boot in just 25 seconds.

In February 2000, the SLK undergoes a comprehensive facelift that included the addition of the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), a six-speed manual transmission and SPEEDTRONIC in its standard equipment package. A new bumper and side skirts, new taillights, stainless steel trim on the exhaust tailpipe and a painted radiator grille were also included.

In the spring of 2004, the second generation of the SLK (internal model series designation: R 171) was launched, and with it, as a world first, Mercedes-Benz introduced the AIRSCARF neck-level heating system. In 2008, the facelift for the second generation of the SLK was introduced.

Finally, the new SLK, which was presented in January 2011 and designated internally as the R 172, will now also follow in these same footsteps, coming with a new design, high levels of comfort and no shortage of open-air driving pleasure.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram Twitter

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories