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Hollywood Love Affair.

A look at the history of the Mercedes-Benz SL
in 60 years of film productions.

Author: Hadassa Haack / Credits: Royce Rumsey, Daimler AG

Movie Icon.

What makes an iconic movie moment iconic? Ask the experts and they will say that it is the result of achieving an emotional connection with the audience – be that emotion sympathy, empathy or even envy. Whether one feels love or dismay or anything else when a cool guy or beautiful woman turns up in a sleek sports car is often a very personal – and much debated – matter.

Case in point: Richard Gere in American Gigolo driving his black Mercedes-Benz 450 SL open top throughout the movie, Angelina Jolie getting out of her silver 1969 280 SL with red interior and alloy rims in Life or Something Like it or more recently and more subtly, a dark early 280 SL that is moving

along the London docks in 2011 British espionage film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Combined fuel consumption: 9,2-6,8 l/100 km;
CO2 emissions: 214-159 g/km*

Making of a Character.

Movies and the automobile grew up together, so to speak. In the playground that was the Industrial Revolution the development of the automobile roughly coincided with that of cinematography, namely in the 1880/90s. And down to this day, cars remain a major factor in the design and style of a movie and the making of a character.

Unless, of course, the car is the character. Like the Mercedes-Benz SL (SL standing for super lightweight) which over the past 60 years has been featured in more than 150 movies and TV series in one or other of its different generations.

A Dream Car for the Dream Factory.

Soon after its debut in New York in February 1954, the legendary 300 SL Gullwing and its successors began to be offered roles in movies.

The SL became a dream car for the dream factory, whether acting as a fast getaway car, a stylish travelling companion or a lavish gift.

SL@Hollywood - Celebrating
60 years of a living legend.

Watch Film

Six generations of the SL in Hollywood

Action Hero.

"Engineered like no other car", says Clint Eastwood in The Rookie (1990), voluntarily uttering the famous ad-line after smashing an SL through a window on the top floor of an exploding building. For those mourning the wasteful destruction of a beautiful car: this was actually a shell especially constructed for the stunt, while the real car was dropped from a much lower height – and survived.

A suitable role
for each car.

The SL also made an appearance in many James Bond movies, mostly driven by the bad guys. These days, scripts sent in to Mercedes-Benz USA are evaluated carefully in order to find a suitable role for each car. The precious cargo will often be accompanied by a “babysitter” who will ensure that it receives proper treatment. Less critical is the bodypaint of the car: a special latex paint will be applied with a coat of the new desired colour on top. When the movie is finished, the latex paint can simply be removed along with the topcoat.

Typically, the first batches of a new series will be used for films and then become part of the press fleet, often resulting in frustrated customers who wait impatiently for their order to be delivered while they see their particular model already driving around or featured in a film.

 
 
 

Hollywood's Love Affair
with the SL.

With a past and a filmography as impressive as that of the SL, it is no surprise then that it also became a favourite with the stars of the time and left a lasting impact on popular culture. Famous drivers included Sophia Loren, Alfred Hitchcock, Grace Kelly, Kirk Douglas, John Travolta, John Lennon, Picasso, Steve Jobs and Kate Moss. Natalie Wood, for example, famously had her 300SL - which cost around 12,000 Dollars at the time - sprayed pink. It features original knock-off wheels, which add about 70,000 Dollars to its current value. Their original price: 400 Dollars.

The car still exists and, now gleaming in light blue metallic (see photo), was part of a small but exclusive exhibition “SL@Hollywood - Celebrating 60 Years of a Living Legend”, at the Warner Brothers Studios in Los Angeles, showcasing each model in its respective decade.

Lasting Impact on Popular Culture.

Previous Oscar winner Joel Cox was on site (photo) and shared some of his anecdotes from various film sets. Cox has worked with Clint Eastwood for over 35 years, and won an Academy Award® for Best Editing for Unforgiven. He received another Oscar® nomination for his editing work on Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby as well as a BAFTA Award nomination for work on the movie Changeling. Mercedes-Benz fittingly chose the recent weekend of the 84th Academy Awards to introduce the new 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 to an exclusive audience.

This new addition to the family is already in talks for upcoming movies – continuing the long tradition of Hollywood’s love affair with this sleek character.

Oscar Weekend
with the SL in Hollywood.

Product may vary after press date on 15.03.2012.


* The data do not relate to a specific vehicle and are not part of the specification, but are merely for the purpose of comparing different vehicle types. The figures are provided in accordance with the German regulation "PKW-EnVKV" and apply to the German market only.

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