In 1952, this car was the first German to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The win convinced Merc to build and sell production models in 1954.
This 1952 is the oldest Gullwing in existence. It is chassis number 2. Number 1 was scrapped by the factory long ago.
This 1953 is the only officially recognized prototype of the 300SL passenger model. Its bodywork is made of Elektron, a magnesium alloy, which made the car 85 kilos lighter. It was optimized in the wind tunnel and had better airflow for the engine.
This 1955 model was the fourth of 29 made for competition and sold to privateers. It was delivered to Fangio, who requested Dunlop racing tires and the tallest available final drive ratio.
I promise to pay better attention next time!
Photos via Car and Driver.