The term "supercar" is bandied around a lot, and it's not surprising when you consider how many incredibly powerful cars are being produced these days, especially now that manufacturers are realizing the potential of electric and hybrid performance cars. When the term was first used and which particular car brought it into our everyday language are rarely considered, but there's a car going under the auctioneer's hammer in Florida next month that could provide a few answers.
The car in question is a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL with "gullwing" doors, which, when the model was introduced in 1954, was pretty much unlike anything anyone had seen before. With those doors, and the 212-horsepower direct injection straight-six engine under the hood that made it the fastest production car of its time, it's no wonder some sources cite the 300SL as the world's first supercar.
This particular example is a 1957 model that has only had three owners from new, and it will be going up for auction by RM Sotheby's in Fort Lauderdale in Florida next month. Only four more of these were built after this bright red example came off the production line, it last had a change of owners in 1967, and it was then put on display at the ACD Automobile Museum in Auburn, Indiana.
The car is largely unrestored with the majority of its original paint still intact. In 1968 it had 36,375 miles on the clock, and no more have been added over the last 40 years.
A car of such rarity and originality is always going to bring a high price at auction, but the fact all the proceeds from this one are set to go to the YMCA of Jackson, Michigan to fund the construction of a new building could see a few additional dollars added to the hammer price, so the auctioneers have put an estimate on the car of $1 million.
Much of the black color has faded away from the leather seats over time, even though they were recovered decades ago in the same leather it came with originally, which has now been unavailable for many years.