As the SLS AMG bows out to be replaced by the new AMG GT as the Mercedes supercar, many people are unemotional about the change from gullwing to traditional hinged doors.
In this regard, the gullwing doors of the SLS are so iconic that they have become a bit passe as a result. But the special magic of twin, central-hinged doors opening upward and meeting mid-roof is truly a cultural touchstone in the car business. Much as Lamborghini defines scissor doors, Mercedes gullwing doors are a huge part of the 300SL legend — and therefore the Mercedes legend — since hitting the track and streets in the early 1950s.
How special are these rare doors?
They appeared on not one, not two, but at least five Mercedes prototypes and concepts over the next 50 years. Starting with the C111 in 1969, the desire to have gullwings back in the model range has been palpable. The C111-II included them in the mid-1970s, and the C111-III and C111-IV? All packing roof-hinged gullwings.
At the same time, this design prototype was restyled into the CW311, also featuring the doors.
Moving forward another decade, the 1991 C112 concept also wore these special doors. But none of these ever reached production or a racing circuit.
The CLK-GTR and Mercedes-McLaren SLR both sacrificed their roots in favor of swan doors hinged on the A-pillars.
Not until the SLS AMG of 2010 did a Mercedes-Benz wear gullwing doors since the 1950s.
But still: even without production models, the iconic vision of two open portholes remained a firm part of the Mercedes ethos.
It is with a deep bow that we say farewell to the SLS AMG and its majestic wings. Until next time, good sir.
1952-1953 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Race Car
1954-1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Road Car
1991 Mercedes-Benz C112 Prototype
2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series