I'm soaring up a steep hill in Mercedes-Benz's new $200,000 supercar, the SLS AMG. Nearing the top, I squeeze on the carbon-ceramic brakes, sweep right to left on the pebbly asphalt, then tuck the supersized beak down a coiling hill—the infamous blind corkscrew at California's Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
I spiral down, stomach dropping, grin spreading. Birds on the wing indeed.
Like fashion designers, car companies love to dip into their pasts for inspiration (or outright appropriation). Few models make such an obvious target as the startlingly beautiful 1950s 300 SL Gullwings. Lithe autos with rounded corners and signature doors hinged at the roof, good examples will go at auction for around $500,000.