1952 saw the debut of the 300SL in the Mille Miglia, in Italy, almost winning first time out, being only four and a half minutes behind the winner.
At Le Mans the factory had a 3 car team for their first post war entry to the race. Under strict team orders, the drivers started steadily, lying in 3rd, 4th and 5th places at midnight, behind the Gordini of Manzon and the Talbot of Levegh.
One of the team, the Kling/Klenk entry dropped out at 1.30 in the morning, but the others ran smoothly, and after Manzon/Behra failed at around 4am the Levegh car was 4 laps ahead of the two Mercedes.
Stubbornly, Levegh who had driven from the start, refused to hand over to his co-driver, and after 23 hours tiredness took its toll, he missed a gear, breaking the crank, handing victory to the Mercedes team, Lang /Riess taking the flag at 96.7 mph.