Mercedes-Benz will flaunt its new SL Roadster this Sunday in a television commercial during the Academy Awards. This is the car Lara Stone filmed with recently in a Hitchcock-inspired short by Alex Prager, the reason why Stone attended Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week earlier this month. It's based on one of the most iconic car designs ever built.
“You would struggle to find a car that embodies Gottlieb Daimler’s aspiration more perfectly,” Zetsche said.
Launched in 1954, the gullwing SL (for Sport Light) was the darling of artists like Andy Warhol and celebrities like Elvis and Grace Kelly. Photographer David Douglas Duncan photographed his friend Pablo Picasso in it dozens of times. Roughly 1,400 of them were made, mostly for the U.S. market, and they sold for$7,500 in the late ’50s--about the same price as a suburban home.
If you love vintage cars, you'll love the Oscars ad. It opens with a 1952 300 SL Carrera Panamericana racecar speeding by a cheering crowd and then progresses to a 1960 300 SL convertible that passes the Panamericana. Then another iteration of the model takes the lead. And so on.
The succession continues as subsequent versions race through different eras until the 2013 Mercedes SL 550--the sixth generation of the model--takes the lead.
This new SL is longer and wider than previous models with a totally redesigned front grill–a verticle face and slanting eagle-eye headlamps some critics say combine similar aspects of Audi’s sport sedans. A long hood and compact passenger compartment set well back in the car give it a sport punch look; the rear is wide and relatively bare.
Here are some of the other new things we'll see in the 2013 SL:
- Aluminum body. The Roadster weighs 308 pounds less than its predecessor thanks to a body made almost entirely from aluminium. (It's a V8 biturbo engine that gets 429 horsepower and goes 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds.)
- New direct injection engine that is more powerful and economical than the one in the previous generation.
- FrontBass system, which turns the car into a veritable concert hall both with the top up and with it down. - Retractable hardtop operated by an electrohydraulic mechanism that converts the SL from coupe to roadster in 20 seconds. The new SL also offers two versions of the hardtop: glass or a panoramic roof with Magic Sky Control (it dims in sunlight).
- Drowsiness detection system, attention assist, adaptive braking all come standard.
Pricing for the 350 SL starts at about $118,000, with the 500 SL costing $148,000.
A special-edition “Edition 1″ is also available for a limited period, which comes with a panoramic vario-roof, AMG bodystyling, sports suspension, AMG 19-inch light-alloy wheels, nappa leather with contrasting topstitching, airscarf, heated seats, electric draught-stop, ambient lighting and Harman/Kardon surround sound system. The crystal silver special paintwork is available exclusively for the “Edition 1,” along with trim in wave or deep white aluminium.
Extras on the special edition cost an additional $28,700. Better start saving now.
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- Dieter Zetsche