The development of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL began in 1950, when Mercedes-Benz began to think about a return to racing. In June 1951, the Board decided to resume participation in racing events from 1952 on, and gave the final orders for the construction of the 300 SL. This car was not sold to the public, it was built just for racing.
The first sales brochures of the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL included also photos of a racing version of the car. The racing version’s doors were made of light alloy and a small racing-car windshield was made of Perspex. The omission of soft-top, bumpers, heat exchanger and insulating material reduced the car’s weight to some 1,000 kilograms, roughly ten percent less than the production roadster’s. In engineering terms, the lightweight 190 SL differed only slightly from the production version. The modifications included a bit of fine-tuning of the engine, lowering of the bodywork and fitting of sports shock absorbers and modified springs.