You know how your housecat will occasionally go catch a vole or something, then haul it back to your doorstep to present to you as a present? Well Mercedes-Benz has captured a wild R232-chassis SL-class and ripped it limb from limb. The bits that make it alive have been shredded and torn asunder. Its skin has been torn free from its skeleton, and only the visceral remains have been dropped lifeless and stiff with rigor on our collective doorstep. Here it is, the chassis upon which the next SL will be revived.
Unlike some other automotive blogs, I’m going to absolutely celebrate Mercedes for its decision to continue with the SL lineage. While some might question the motivation of Merc to build a new ultra-lux convertible grand tourer, despite declining sales numbers, and favor the company to build ever increasing numbers of GL-prefix SUV chassis. I will give a hearty thanks to the three-pointed star for continuing the lineage of big sporty SLs that reaches back to the 1950s.
At its peak back in 2002, the SL-class sold some 14,000 units here in the U.S. market, but in 2018 the silver arrows couldn’t sell more than 2,126 examples. There are a lot of reasons for that, but a big one is that the R231-generation of SL has been on sale since 2011. Ten years of the same car means it’s well past time to develop a new one. Add in a dealership network no longer interested in pitching convertible sales, and a market increasingly being pushed to more profitable and more expensive SUVs, and even the wealthy don’t want convertibles anymore, I guess.
The SL is such an important part of Mercedes-Benz history, and I contend that without the original 300SL, the company wouldn’t be what it is today. I’m happy to see the de-skinned naked skeleton of the new SL-class, because it means there is a new SL-class. Here’s hoping it’s a good one.