1994 Mercedes-Benz SLK I / SLK II

SLK I concept - Turin Motor Show, 1994
SLK I concept - Turin Motor Show, 1994
SLK II concept - Paris Motor Show, 1994
SLK II concept - Paris Motor Show, 1994
Images: Daimler AG.
Rating:  30    -2    +32
A fresh vision for the roadster: SLK I and SLK II concepts
The facts

Vehicle 1: SLK I concept
When: Spring 1994
Where: Turin Motor Show
Vehicle 2: SLK II concept
When: Fall 1994
Where: Paris Motor Show
What: Sporty roadster with compact dimensions and innovative roof
Powertrain: Four-stroke four-cylinder gasoline engine, rear-wheel drive, five-speed manual transmission

Technical highlights

  • Vario roof -> introduced 1996 in the Mercedes-Benz SLK (R 170)

  • Carbon fiber dashboard

Ever since the 1950’s, the letters "SL" have stood for a very special breed of Mercedes-Benz: sporty ("S"), light ("L") cars which were for the most part open-top roadsters. The SL series is now an established part of the range. By 1994 however, the time had come to air a new, compact version of the SL. The SLK concept made its debut in two stages. In spring 1994 it appeared at the Turin Motor Show. Already in near-production form, it still lacked a roof however. That followed in the second SLK concept, which appeared a few months later at the Paris Motor Show. At the press of a button, the sensational electro-hydraulic "vario roof" transformed the SLK from a convertible into a winter-proof coupe or vice versa in just 25 seconds. Mercedes-Benz was the first manufacturer to revive this type of roof, which harked back to an earlier era. When the SLK appeared as a production model in 1996 (R 170), its roof was such a hit that several competitors subsequently brought out versions of their own.

The SLK concept took a variety of design cues from its imposing big brother, the SL, producing its own variation on the latter’s themes of elegance and dynamism. The result was styling which looked to the future while at the same time being firmly rooted in the tradition of the Mercedes-Benz brand. "Styling which refers to nothing beyond current modernity would not be Mercedes styling," said Design Chief Bruno Sacco. The face, the short overhangs front and rear and a pronounced wedge shape emphasized the affinity with the SL and gave an impression of agility. In other areas the SLK concept took a tangent however, for example in its compact exterior dimensions and various other highlights. These included the sheathed roll-over bars behind each of the two seats, which harked back to the successful 300 SLR sports car of 1955.

A pared-down look can be quite desirable in a roadster, as the interior of the SLK concept attested with an abundance of exposed, gleaming metal surfaces, only twenty percent of which sported any trim or cladding; in the later production SLK of course, it was a different story. A key design element was a dashboard of very lightweight carbon fiber material which gave the appearance of floating in mid-air. Two stowage nets underneath it continued the minimalist theme, although they were at the same time perfectly practical. The instruments were aluminum-rimmed, as was the ignition lock, which was positioned in a horizontally swiveling hemisphere. Set in a second aluminum hemisphere in the center console was the short gearshift lever. Minimalism and low weight these themes, complementary and appropriate in a sports car, were indulged extensively in the SLK concept, right down to the perforated aluminum accelerator, brake and clutch pedals.

The second SLK concept exhibited a different interior. Appropriately in light of the venue Paris the keynote was elegance, with plentiful luxurious leather trim. As on the outside there was a preponderance of blue. This was a salute to the host country, since blue was the traditional color of French racing cars. There was no attempt to be too fashionable, however. "We have to remain true to ourselves," commented designer-in-charge Peter Pfeiffer, "we don’t want to pretend to be something we’re not, i.e. fashion designers." For the most part, the bodywork of the second SLK concept differed from the first only in minor details, although it did sport exposed roll-over bars and the aforementioned vario roof, which folds down into the trunk at the touch of a button.

Mercedes-Benz concept vehicles are normally not only drivable, they also demonstrate the brand’s high safety standards. The SLK concept was a case in point. Its sturdy windshield frame, sturdy roll-over protection and extremely rigid body structure offered the maximum in passive safety. Further safety features included full-size airbags in the carbon fiber steering wheel or, for the passenger, in the instrument panel, plus belt tensioners. Like all Mercedes cars, the SLK concept was also equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS).

The SLK concept was based on its own custom-designed platform. In classic sports car tradition, it used a five-speed manual transmission to transfer the power from the state-of-the-art four-cylinder four-valve engine to the rear axle. Sheltering behind the new-design five-spoke alloy wheels were vented disc brakes with fixed four-piston calipers.

The SLK concept was sporty, it was light in weight and it inspired the engineers, the marketing staff and above all the customers in equal measure. The production vehicle (R 170) appeared on the market in 1996 and by the end of its cycle, in early 2004, 308,000 units had been built. Now the success story is being continued by a new SLK, the R 171.
Source: DaimlerChrysler AG Press Release
Other Mercedes-Benz
1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo Roadster (Saoutchik), 1928 Mercedes-Benz Model K Town Car (Castagna), 1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK, 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500K, 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K, 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupe, 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR ‘Uhlenhaut Coupe’, 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 Berlina/Convertible (Ghia), 1963 Mercedes-Benz 230SL Pagoda, 1964 Mercedes-Benz 230 SL Coupe (Pininfarina), 1969 Mercedes-Benz C111-I, 1970 Mercedes-Benz C111-II, 1978 Mercedes-Benz C111-III, 1981 Mercedes-Benz Auto2000, 1982 Mercedes-Benz Nafa, 1983 Mercedes-Benz Shanin (Sbarro), 1984 Mercedes-Benz Biturbo (Sbarro), 1985 Mercedes-Benz Le Mans Prototype (Colani), 1991 Mercedes-Benz C112 (Coggiola), 1991 Mercedes-Benz F-100, 1992 Mercedes-Benz EXT-92, 1993 Mercedes-Benz 300 SC Sport Coupe (Karmann), 1993 Mercedes-Benz Coupe Concept, 1993 Mercedes-Benz Vision A 93 (I.DE.A), 1994 Mercedes-Benz FCC, 1994 Mercedes-Benz MCC, 1994 Mercedes-Benz SLK I / SLK II, 1995 Mercedes-Benz Vision 2005 Truck (Colani), 1995 Mercedes-Benz VRC (Coggiola), 1996 Mercedes-Benz AAV, 1996 Mercedes-Benz F-200 Imagination (Stola), 1997 Mercedes-Benz F-300 (Life Jet), 1997 Mercedes-Benz Maybach, 1999 Mercedes-Benz Necar-4, 1999 Mercedes-Benz Vision SLR, 1999 Mercedes-Benz Vision SLR Roadster, 2000 Mercedes-Benz Vision SLA, 2001 Mercedes-Benz F-400 Carving (Coggiola), 2002 Mercedes-Benz Vision GST, 2003 Mercedes-Benz F500 Mind (Coggiola), 2003 Mercedes-Benz Vision CLS, 2004 Mercedes-Benz Vision B, 2004 Mercedes-Benz Vision R, 2005 Mercedes-Benz Bionic, 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL 500 G.M. (Castagna), 2005 Mercedes-Benz F600 Hygenius, 2007 Mercedes-Benz F 700, 2007 Mercedes-Benz Ocean Drive, 2008 Mercedes-Benz Concept FASCINATION, 2008 Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK Freeside, 2009 Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell Plus, 2009 Mercedes-Benz Concept BlueZero, 2009 Mercedes-Benz F-Cell Roadster, 2010 Mercedes-Benz F800 Style, 2010 Mercedes-Benz Shooting Break, 2011 Mercedes-Benz Concept A-Class, 2011 Mercedes-Benz F 125!, 2011 Mercedes-Benz Unimog Concept, 2012 Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe, 2012 Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force, 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLA, 2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, 2014 Mercedes-Benz Coupe SUV, 2014 Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, 2014 Mercedes-Benz G-Code, 2015 Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA, 2015 Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion, 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, 2015 Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo, 2016 Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ, 2016 Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, 2016 Mercedes-Benz Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6, 2016 Mercedes-Benz Vision Van, 2016 Mercedes-Benz X-Class, 2017 Mercedes-Benz A Sedan, 2017 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, 2017 Mercedes-Benz EQA, 2017 Mercedes-Benz Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet, 2018 Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow, 2018 Mercedes-Benz Maybach Ultimate Luxury, 2018 Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic, 2019 Mercedes-Benz Concept GLB, 2019 Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS, 2019 Mercedes-Benz Vision Mercedes Simplex, 2020 Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR, 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQG, 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQT, 2021 Mercedes-Benz Maybach EQS, 2022 Mercedes-Benz Vision AMG, 2022 Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX
Discuss this car
Add your comments