Eight Mercedes-Benz 300SLs will headline the 2024 George Old Car Show

Mark your calendars for the 2024 George Old Car Show happening on the weekend of 10 and 11 February! This year’s show is set to be a special one as it boasts the largest gathering of original Mercedes-Benz 300SL sports cars, and they will have eight out of the nine original series 300SLs in South Africa revving up for the occasion.

A Mercedes-Benz Gullwing 300SL Coupé in the background.
A Mercedes-Benz Gullwing 300SL Coupé in the background. Photo by Johannes Giez on Unsplash.

These iconic cars earned the prestigious title of “Sports Car of the Century” back in 2009, and it’s going to be thrilling to see them showcased at the 27th edition of the George Old Car Show. Waldo Scribante, the chairman of the Southern Cape Old Car Club, the organising club behind the event, can’t contain his excitement about having these magnificent cars grace the show.

What makes this showcase even more spectacular is that seven of these 300SLs are Roadster versions, and for the first time, a magnificent original Gullwing 300SL Coupé will join the lineup. This Gullwing is currently the only one of its kind in South Africa, adding an extra layer of awe to the event. Waldo owns one of the most comprehensive Mercedes-Benz classic collections in South Africa, and he’s looking forward to the jaw-dropping sight of these rare and valuable sports cars.

“It’s almost poetic that the SL 300s entered for next month’s show hail from many parts of the country,” he says. “The cars are arriving from as far afield as Johannesburg, Klerksdorp, Cape Town, and Paarl, while one of them is owned and garaged here in George.”

“And even more significant is that our SL display marks, almost to the day, the 70th anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL,” he adds.

Back in 1954, during a time of dominance in international motor racing, Juan Manuel Fangio clinched two of his Formula One world championships in the Mercedes W196 Grand Prix machine. The 300SL also made headlines by winning the 1955 Mille Miglia with Stirling Moss behind the wheel.

The road-going Mercedes-Benz 300SL, launched in coupé form in 1954, was derived from the first 300SL built for the 1952 Carrera Panamericana. The famous Gullwing design, with doors resembling seagull wings, was a result of the racing DNA present in the production coupé versions.

What’s more, the 300SL was a trailblazer in engineering, featuring the first direct-injection petrol engine in the world. The 3.0-litre straight-six overhead camshaft engine, rated at 179 kW, set the standard nearly half a century before direct petrol injection became popular in today’s cars.

By 1956, the Gullwing coupĂ© had its time in the spotlight, and in 1957, the 300SL roadster made its entrance. The roadster maintained the mechanical layout of the coupĂ© but with modified chassis sections to accommodate conventional doors. With features like leather interiors, a stainless steel dashboard insert, and the distinctive “eyebrows” above the wheel arches, the 300SL roadster continued to capture hearts.

In total, some 1,400 Gullwing coupés and 1,858 roadsters were built between 1954 and 1963, becoming cherished possessions of famous personalities like Sophia Loren, Pablo Picasso, Clark Gable, Bernie Ecclestone, Hugh Hefner, and Paul Newman.

The Southern Cape Old Car Club, the organizers, expect upwards of 1,000 classic cars for this year’s event. Tickets are now available through iTickets.

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