A Lyrical History of the Mercedes Convertible

Spitting rhymes from SSK to SLK, and beyond.

byBen Keeshin|
History photo

At the start of things, in 1901

A young frau and her beau could find open-air fun.

From behind the wheel, the countryside sweetens

Especially inside a 30-horse Phaeton.

Then came the Twenties, with requisite roaring

And from Daimler Benz? The Type SSK Touring.

Fenders, headlamps and bustles, included.

Now, for collectors? Highly exclusive.

Next were the Thirties, with murder and warring—

Through crowds in a Großer sailed Himmler and Göring.

And the Fürher himself, mustached spawn of Hades

By far the worst fellow to ride a Mercedes.

The Post-War Era bore the “Cabrio D”—

Staid, simple and homely, but still fit for Capri.

In ‘49, for criminals, transport got breezy:

Enter the Offener-Tourenwagen-Polizei.

In ‘52, topless Benzes gained power,

With the princely—nay kingly—droptop Adenauer.

The 300 S W188:

A roadster for barons who hated to wait.

Come ‘54, the world found Sport-Light

And, three years later, the Gullwings took flight.

Left in their wake, the swift SL Roadsters—

Thank Max Hoffman for that vintage car poster.

Late 1-9-5-9, the S Cabrio came,

With stacked lights, four seats—an elegant dame.

For golfing or cruising casinos afar,

The low-grill Big Benz was the ultimate car.

With JFK dead, the USA mourned.

But at least the “Pagoda” arrived here well-formed?

Square, somewhat French, with a potent straight-six

The brand new SL left viewers transfixed.

With the Seventies came the R107,

Upright, quite rigid, from Engineer Heaven.

Known to some as the “90210 taxi”

It reads to this day as unerringly classy

Eighteen years later, its dominance ended.

Demands of modernity left fans’ hearts well-rended.

But the ‘89 SL brought its own kind of charms:

ESP, rolls-hoops and myriad alarms.

Cresting the Nineties, Benz made a four-seater:

An E-Class convertible, replete with seat heaters.

Docile and swift and with room for the Corgies,

It shuttled rich WASPs to gin-fueled orgies.

(For those with less funding, see the wee SLK,

A diminutive roadster—a hairdresser’s bae.)

Two-thousand marked the dawn of a brand-new SL.

(The SL55 was rapid as hell.)

Later, downmarket, came squat CLK—

A fine choice for some, if you don’t mind some sway.

Today, we swim in a bevy of Benzes,

All without tops—if you have the expenses.

SLC, S-Cabrio, SL and E-Class,

Most of them perfect sans steel roof or glass.

The latest that’s charmed us, with power and poise?

(And, of course, some raucous AMG noise?)

The new C-Class Cabrio, a vigorous steer.

(We drove it in Italy: get the link here.)