The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is a grand touring car manufactured by Mercedes since 1954. The designation SL derives from the German Super-Leicht, (English: Super Light). The original idea was suggested by American importer Max Hoffman, who perceived a market for a toned-down Gran Prix car tailored to affluent performance enthusiasts in the booming post-war American market, which remains the primary market for the vehicles.
The SL designation was first applied to the 300 SL, often referred to as the “Gullwing” due to its gullwing or upward-opening doors.
The term SL refers to the marketing variations of the vehicle, including the numerous engine configurations spanning six design generations.
Mercedes-Benz did not announce what the abbreviation “SL” meant when the car was introduced.
Leicht is either “easy” as an adverb or “light” as an adjective in German. Defining a car it has to mean “Light”.
It is often assumed that the letters stand for Sport Leicht. One car magazine in 2012 declared that the abbreviation “SL” – “securitized and personally signed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut ” meant Super Leicht. This contradicts “Mercedes-Benz 300 SL” of Engelen / Riedner / Seufert, which was produced in close cooperation with Rudolf Uhlenhaut showing that the abbreviation meant Sport Leicht.
Mercedes-Benz used both forms until 2017. It was even called Super Super.On the company website it was called Sport Leicht until 2017 and then changed to Super Leicht.
For a long time it was unclear what intention the company had at the time when assigning the letter combination. It was not until the beginning of 2017 that a chance finding in the corporate archive clarified that the that the abbreviation SL stood for Super-Leicht.