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In the world of automotive allure, one name stands out like a beacon – the Mercedes-Benz 280SL. It’s a machine renowned for its distinctive style, especially that iconic ‘Pagoda’ concave roof. Within the illustrious SL or Sports Leicht range, the 280SL carves a permanent mark in the annals of automotive history, arguably the most memorable of them all. Revered for its timeless elegance, its sleek lines etched in the minds of enthusiasts. And now, in a glorious twist of fate, that timeless aesthetic gracefully dances into the modern age. Welcome to the TWO8eSL, a vision born from the mind of concept artist extraordinaire, Shane Baxley.
If Baxley’s name rings a bell, it’s because his concept art has graced the screens of Hollywood blockbusters like The Transformers, Suicide Squad, and even Alita: Battle Angel. Yet, what he has conjured here, the TWO8eSL, is firmly grounded in reality, a tantalizing glimpse into the realm of “what could have been” had Mercedes electrified their classics.
The original 280SL was penned by Friedrich Geiger, the mastermind behind the iconic Mercedes 300SL “Gullwing” coupe. Baxley, respectful of this heritage, refrains from drastic alterations. Instead, he deftly modernizes the bodywork, bidding farewell to the overtly-retro chrome bumpers, embracing a more contemporary aesthetic.
To the keen-eyed enthusiast, the design remains unmistakably 280SL. That signature Pagoda-style roof, those vertical capsule-shaped headlights, the classic taillights, and the Mercedes-Benz emblem, proudly displayed both front and rear. However, Baxley makes a bold move by swapping the traditional front grille for a sleek, flat surface, a move that could be seen as a compromise on aerodynamics for the sake of visual accuracy. Yet, the hood boasts a striking tri-tip star, a nod to the brand’s heritage that adds a touch of luxury.
Baxley’s revelation sheds light on his intent: “My intention was to maintain this original funk in a slightly modernized proportion.” He crafted this masterpiece from the ground up, meticulously modeling it in Maya and rendering it with OTOY.
As you circle around the TWO8eSL, its low-riding allure becomes evident. The piece de resistance, however, is undoubtedly the headlights. Departing from traditional reflector-based lamps, Baxley opts for two powerful LEDs adorned with a halftone graphic on the front, softly diffusing the glare. LED strips elegantly hug the edges of the capsule-shaped headlights, reinforcing their distinctive shape.
This concept by Baxley is part of a growing trend known as ‘cyberpunking,’ where classic cars receive a modern makeover. Last year, there was the stunning revival of the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Charger RT, but our top pick remains this exquisite fan-made resurrection of the Lamborghini Countach.
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