The Evolution of Mercedes-Benz Gullwing Supercars in 9 Cars Since 1952

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


1969 Mercedes-Benz C111 Prototype

1970 Mercedes-Benz C111-II Prototype

1978 Mercedes-Benz C111-III Prototype

1978 Mercedes-Benz CW311 Prototype

1991 Mercedes-Benz C112 Prototype

2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series



Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.

He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.

Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)

195219691969 Mercedes-Benz C1111969 Mercedes-Benz C111 and 1970 C111-II: Wankel vs V8 Proved Piston-Engine Dominance19782010300SLAMGBenzEvolutionIIIMercedesMercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz 300SLMercedes-Benz C111-IIIMercedes-Benz SLS AMGSLSspecialSupercars