The 12 Greatest Mercedes-Benzes of All Time

Mercedes-Benz 300SL in black with gullwing doors open

Writegeist/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

Mercedes-Benz dates back to 1886, and in the last 129 years, the company has made a lot of fantastic cars. Mercedes has created everything from world-class supercars to massive luxury barges for heads-of-state and the like. These are, subjectively, the 12 best cars ever made by Mercedes.

12
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1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen

Benz 1886 Patent-Motorwagen on display

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 Let's start at the beginning with the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. The Patent-Motorwagen is widely regarded as the first car. Compared to virtually any other car, it was absolute rubbish. The engine reached only two-and-a-half horsepower, steering was accomplished with a device that would look more in-place on an old-timey bathtub, and it only had three thin wheels. Compared to the other transportation of the time, it was groundbreaking.

Hilariously, even Karl Benz remained unconvinced that his creation was ready for prime-time, so his wife, Bertha Benz, drove it to see her mother 65 miles away. She didn't just go on the first road trip in order to publicize her husband's invention, she even acted as her own mechanic on the way, using her hat-pin to clean the fuel pipe and her garter to insulate a wire.

11
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1976-1985 Mercedes-Benz W123

Mercedes Benz W123 parked on grass

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The W123 is not the most glamorous Mercedes by a wide margin, but it certainly is one of the best. The W123 was available as a sedan, a wagon, a long-wheelbase sedan or an ambulance, and a variety of gasoline and diesel engines were available. The W123 was one of the single most dependable vehicles ever made. To this day, the continent of Africa is reliant on diesel W123s that have managed to survive not just time, but everything from off-roading to fighting hippos. They are incredible cars.

10
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1953-1963 Mercedes-Benz Ponton

Mercedes-Benz Ponton 220S parked on grass

 Charles01/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, 1.0

After the second world war, Mercedes-Benz was hurting. Most of its facilities had been converted to produce war machines, and the vast majority of them had been destroyed by allied air strikes. One of the first cars Mercedes started selling after it rebuilt was the Ponton, which laid the foundation for the modern-day C-Class. The Ponton was a car that had most of the elegance of the more expensive Benzes, but at a much more attainable price.

09
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1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth 2.5-16 Evolution II

Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5/16 Evolution at a car show

 nakhon100/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

 Almost anything Cosworth touches turns to gold. Originally intended to be a rally car, the 190E Cosworth showed up right as rally racing was starting to be dominated by AWD cars. The Mercedes-Benz Cosworth turned into a DTM car (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) in order to beat the BMW M3.

08
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1998-1999 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR

1999 Mercedes Benz CLK-GTR AMG at an auto show

 Stephen Hanafin/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

FIA's GT1 class was awesome. Not only were the cars dramatic, fast and fun to watch, but they also needed to be homologated for road use. That means that the CLK GTR isn't just a sweet race car, there are a few people out there who can drive it around in the real world. The CLK GTR also holds the distinction of being the fastest road car Mercedes ever made.

07
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2008-2014 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG driving down the street

 Danny Galvez/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

The C63 is, without a doubt, the most important car AMG has ever made. There are more C63s on the road than any other AMG by a wide margin, and it's easy to see why. The 6.2L V8 in the C63 engine makes the C63 AMG stand out.

06
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1968-1972 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3

1972 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL parked on the grass

 Charles01/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

The fast, luxurious, and elegant S63 wasn't the first S-Class Mercedes ever dropped with an inordinately large engine under the hood. The '68 300SEL 6.3 was originally a private project by Mercedes engineer Erich Waxenberger. He crammed the 6.3L V8 engine from the 600 limousines in a regular W109 S-Class. It was so impressive to the company's top brass, the 300SEL got put into production. 

05
of 12

1963-1981 600 Pullman

1965 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman at a car show

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Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Taylor, Jeremy Clarkson, John Lennon, George Harrison, Elvis Presley, Emperor Hirohito, Pablo Escobar, Fidel Castro, Ferdinand Marcos, and King Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud are among the celebrities and world leaders who owned Mercedes 600 Pullman models.

That is a small selection of the owners of the 600 Pullman. The 600 is one of the most elegant, luxurious, and imposing vehicles ever made — and it was available in a bulletproof design.

04
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1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK Trossi Roadster

1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK Roadster Count Trossi

 Martyn Goddard/Getty Images

All Mercedes SSKs were great cars with awesome 7.0L supercharged V8 engines. They looked pretty good too, but they were just good-looking machines. The SSK with the Trossi body, on the other hand, is a work of art. The sweeping pontoon fenders and rich black paint make for an imposing and simply beautiful vehicle.

Designer Ralph Lauren is among those who have owned this majestic vehicle.

03
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2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series

2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG parked in sunlight

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The SLS AMG Black Series is a triumph. It's the kind of car that you can drive in the real world with minimal trouble, but it miraculously feels like a race car even on street roads.

02
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1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster

Mercedes-Benz W29 Roadster in candy red parked on the grass

Rudolf Stricker/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

The 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster isn't just one of the best Mercedes-Benzes ever made, it's one of the best cars ever made. Five of the most expensive Benzes to ever cross an auction block were 540Ks, and there's a reason for that. It's one of those magical vehicles where the engineering and design are both working in perfect harmony in order to create a legend.

01
of 12

1954-1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL with gull wing doors driving

Michael Cole/Contributor/Getty Images

The 300SL isn't just the best Benz ever made, it's a touchstone and turning point in sports car design. This is the car that gave the world gullwing doors, and not just for aesthetics like in many modern cars. The doors were designed this way to give the engineers more space to reinforce the chassis near the bottom of the car to improve track performance.