Super sports cars form the focus of the Mercedes-Benz stand at the 2010 Techno Classica, the world’s largest classic car fair, staged in Essen from 7 – 11 April. Ten super sports cars are represented, ranging from the Mercedes Simplex of 1903 to the most recent vehicle in this long tradition, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.
They will be showcased at the Techno Classica on a display area of approximately 1100 square metres. Also planned at Essen are panel discussions with record-breaking DTM champion Bernd Schneider on all aspects of super sport cars.
“Mercedes-Benz stands for fascination and perfection – and that is exactly what we are bringing to the Techno Classica with these super sports cars,” says Michael Bock, Managing Director of the Mercedes-Benz Museum and Director of Face-to-Face Communication Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Our vehicles have shaped entire generations and continue to inspire people today.” Elsewhere on the stand the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center demonstrates its expertise and experience from almost 125 years of automotive history with a selection of extraordinary vehicles and offers. The rare 500 K Cabriolet B on display represents outstanding quality from the pre-war era. Another exceptional offer is the 300 SL Coupé, which can be purchased with a complete participant’s pack for the Mille Miglia 2010.
This includes full logistics details for vehicle and participant during the event, as well as Mercedes-Benz Service throughout the 1600-kilometre drive from Brescia to Rome and back. And with a 300 SL Roadster, pictured during three phases of restoration, the Classic Centeralso proves its comprehensive expertise in the restoration of high-quality classic cars. It is aided in this by being in a position in most cases to supply genuine Mercedes-Benz parts for almost all models – the Classic Center alone has around 40,000 parts in stock.
Another illustrious display piece is the Mercedes-Benz SSK of Evert Louwman – one of the most authentic SSK models in existence anywhere in the world. As part of the super sports car exhibition, the vehicle is a symbol of unique and unbroken provenance. The authenticity of the Louwman vehicle has been documented and certified by a Mercedes-Benz manufacturer’s expert assessment. The Classic Center took care of the technical aspects of these authentication examinations, including a description of condition and documentation, while the expert assessment itself was drawn up by Archive & Collection.
Mercedes-Benz Young Classics will be presenting for the first time at Techno Classica a range of classic vehicles from the 1970s to the 1990s. The vehicles, all of which are on sale with 12 months warranty and insurance, have been factory-inspected and meet Mercedes-Benz quality standards. Young Classics bridges the gap between new vehicle sales and the specialised classic car trade of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center. This allows the company to offer customers a continuity for Mercedes-Benz vehicles of all eras that is unique in the classic car tradition. It is underpinned by the brand promise that a Mercedes-Benz not only perfectly meets its owner’s requirements today, but will continue to do so as a classic in the years ahead – while offering unique value retention into the bargain.
A number of Mercedes-Benz Classic partners are also presenting their vehicle ranges in Essen. These are dealers with a special expertise in classic vehicles. They – and above all their customers – depend upon the brand’s ability to provide a reliable supply of replacement parts. Virtually every part can still be ordered through the Mercedes-Benz service organisation. Not for nothing do we make the claim: “Service for a lifetime.” The slogan has virtually become a classic itself in an industry that lives by longevity.
As in previous years, the Mercedes-Benz Clubs have also been firmly integrated into the trade fair presence of Mercedes-Benz Classic. Sixteen of the German brand clubs and the Mercedes-Benz Club of Great Britain are showing a selection of impressive vehicles from their members’ ranks under the title “Fascination”.
Customer-owned high-performance sports cars: Super sports cars from Mercedes-Benz Super sports cars are the elite athletes of the automotive world – noted for extreme performance, innovative technology and small unit numbers. At the same time, they achieve a balancing act between competitive use on the race track and dynamic driving on public roads. With such high-performance automobiles, Mercedes-Benz has been setting standards and enflaming passions for decades.
The ranks of super sports cars from Mercedes-Benz include vehicles from the recent past such as the CLK-GTR of 1997 and the CLK DTM AMG that appeared in 2004. This segment also saw the market launch in 2004 of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (199 series).
Historic icons in this unique family tree include the 300 SL (W 198) and SSK (W 06), for example. But the family history can be traced back even further. For it was Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG), one of the predecessor companies of today’s Daimler AG, that laid the foundations for a culture of super sports cars from Stuttgart. The great-grandfather of this dynasty has to be the 35 hp Mercedes, which in 1901 dominated the races of Nice Week, a feat matched the following year by its successor model the 40 hp Mercedes Simplex. Both these models were bought by customers as regular road-going vehicles, as was the 60 hp Mercedes Simplex, which notched up significant motor racing successes in 1903.
A number of extraordinary near-series experimental vehicles, record-breaking vehicles and racing prototypes have also enriched the gene pool of these super sports cars from Mercedes-Benz. These include the closed version of the 300 SLR racing sports car, the so-called “Uhlenhaut Coupé”, the experimental and record-breaking vehicles from the C 111 family and the C 112 experimental car.
The new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG continues the fascinating tradition of super sports cars. Delivery of this new Gullwing, which shares the DNA of so many super sports cars from the brand’s history, has already started.
Mercedes-Benz will be presenting no fewer than ten super sports cars at the Techno Classica in Essen.
– 60 hp Mercedes Simplex
– 37/90 hp Mercedes
– Mercedes-Benz SSK
– Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
– Mercedes-Benz C 111
– Mercedes-Benz C 112
– Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR
– Mercedes-Benz Vision SLR
– Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG
– Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
1903: An early super sports car – 60 hp Mercedes Simplex
In 1900 Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) created the 35 hp model – nowadays regarded as the first modern automobile because it was the first to abandon for good the carriage-based approach to automotive design. Moreover, it was the first to be called a Mercedes. The car was named after Mercedes Jellinek, daughter of the businessman, motorsports enthusiast and “gentleman driver” Emil Jellinek, a demanding DMG customer who inspired the development of this innovative vehicle. In March 1902, just 15 months after the 35 hp Mercedes, DMG delivered a new, more powerful variant – the 40 hp Mercedes Simplex. This car dominated Race Week at Nice in April 1902, just as the first Mercedes had done the year before. The addition of the name “Simplex” to the designation was a reference to the ease with which it could be driven. Although it was largely identical to its predecessor in technical terms, it had a larger engine output. These were absolutely top-class vehicles, purchased mainly by customers from the upper echelons of society. Produced individually, they were fitted with a body specified by the customer in line with the practice of the day. In this way vehicles were equipped with sports bodies which from the modern perspective would be regarded as super sports cars – extremely powerful and highly exclusive.
The next development stage of the victorious super sports car was the 60 hp Mercedes Simplex of 1903. This model had its finest hour as a racing car, although initially only on the back of a disaster. When the Daimler factory in Cannstatt was largely destroyed by fire in 1903, three 90 hp Mercedes cars destined for the Gordon Bennett Race also fell victim to the blaze. So instead of the works cars, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft sent to the race three 60 hp Mercedes Simplex vehicles that were loaned from customers for the race. One of these cars was driven to victory against stiff international competition by the Belgian racing driver, Camille Jenatzy. The 60 hp Mercedes Simplex therefore came to symbolise one of the most legendary motorsport successes of the Mercedes brand.
1911: Sporty and powerful: 37/90 hp Mercedes
In June 1911 the 37/90 hp Mercedes became the new top-of-the-range model in the DMG sales portfolio. This high-performance car succeeded the six-cylinder models of 1907 and, like these, featured a chain drive – although this was the last time this type of drive would be used in a DMG vehicle: all subsequent models came with a propshaft drive. A noteworthy innovation in the 37/90 hp model, however, was the modification of enclosed drive chains that ran in an oil bath. The four-cylinder engine was equipped with three-valve technology and dual ignition. Initially it had a displacement of 9.5 litres, rising to 9.8 litres in the revised 38/100 hp successor model.
DMG’s top-of-the-range model was considered a sporty and powerful touring car featuring state-of-the-art design. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the vast majority of customers ordered it with a sports or racing body and it was among the first Mercedes models to be available with pointed radiator and external exhaust pipes. The engine of the 37/90 hp also distinguished itself in motor racing. In 1912 and 1914 American racing driver Ralph de Palma won the Vanderbilt Cup driving a modified Mercedes Grand Prix racing car of 1908 fitted with a 37/90 hp power unit.
1928: Compact sports model among the “White Elephants” – the SSK
By the later 1920s there were close links between motor racing and exclusive vehicles built for customers. In the family of K, S, SS, SSK and SSKL supercharged sports cars, the SSK model, introduced in 1928, represented the most advanced development stage of any vehicle that could also be purchased by customers. The Super Sport Kurz (kurz = “short”) had a wheelbase shortened to 2950 millimetres and was powered by a mechanically supercharged 7.1-litre in-line six-cylinder engine, which developed an output of up to 184 kW (250 hp).
The legendary Rudolf Caracciola won numerous races at the wheel of this car. At the same time, from October 1928 onwards the SSK was built in a small series for customers, who saw it both as a fast sports car for everyday use and as a race vehicle for competitive use. 33 vehicles were produced in total between 1928 and 1932.
1954: 300 SL – the birth of an icon from the spirit of motor racing
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL of 1954 (W 198 I) borrowed many technical features from the W 194 racing sports car of 1952. These included, in particular, the extremely lightweight spaceframe and distinctive gullwing doors.
Instead of the in-line six-cylinder M 194 carburettor engine with a displacement of 3 litres and an output of 129 kW (170 hp), however, the series sports car was equipped with the 158 kW (215 hp) M 198 I engine with mechanically-controlled direct fuel injection. Design of this dream car of the 1950s was also refined significantly compared with the much more basic looking racing sports model. It also went on to continue the motorsport tradition of its namesake – one of these 300 SL series sports cars, for example, took the class victory at the 1955 Mille Miglia.
Between August 1954 and May 1957 a total of 1400 units of the 300 SL “Gullwing” were built at Sindelfingen. Of these, 29 had a light alloy body and one prototype was fitted with a plastic body.
1969: An idea that aroused passion – the C 111
At the1969 International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt am Main, Mercedes-Benz unveiled an idea of what the next generation of super sports cars with a three-pointed star on the bonnet might look like. The C 111 experimental vehicle was a dynamic wedge shape with gullwing doors, powered by a futuristic-looking rotary piston engine based on the Wankel principle.
In particular the advance development version of this car, the C 111-II, which was presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1970, awakened hopes of series production and fanned the flames of passion of the automotive world. But the super sports car with its 257 kW (350 hp) four-rotor Wankel engine remained a near-series technology test-bed, even though numerous blank cheques were received at Untertürkheim from enthralled and eager customers. Factors that ruled out a production version included the comparative inefficiency of the engine and ever stricter emissions legislation.
1991: Performance at its best – the C 112
The Mercedes-Benz C 112 of 1991 highlighted many of the same ideas as the C 111. This breathtaking sports car study boasted a 6-litre 12-cylinder engine with an output of 300 kW (408 hp). The C 112 anticipated many of the technical innovations for high-performance automobiles that would find their way into series production at Mercedes-Benz in the years ahead – including Active Body Control (ABC), DISTRONIC proximity control and tyre pressure monitoring. The C 112 was influenced by the current Mercedes-Benz racing sports car of the day, the C 11, which raced in Group C for the 1990 season.
Other unusual features of the C 112 included its active aerodynamics. The front spoiler and rear aerofoil were infinitely adjustable and could therefore be adapted to any driving conditions so as to guarantee optimum compromise between low drag and good downforce. The rear spoiler also served to improve emergency braking – if required, it could be raised into the headwind instantaneously.
1997: From the heat of the race track – the Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR
In 1997 Team AMG won the FIA-GT Championship with the racing prototype Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR. From this competition vehicle AMG derived a road-legal version – the Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR super sports car. This was presented in April 1997.
The coupé was equipped with a 6.9-litre V12 engine that developed 412 kW (560 hp). One of the innovative details realised by the engineers in this car was a body made of carbon-fibre composite. In contrast to the sports and performance-optimised racing car, the super sports car came with air-conditioning, a hi-fi system and leather appointments.
Nevertheless, the CLK-GTR did not for a moment disown the legacy it had been left by the competition vehicle. The super sports car delivered extreme performance, and the tight cockpit allowed both driver and passenger to experience a racing atmosphere at first hand. This vehicle enabled AMG to underline its expertise in the technology transfer from motor racing to elegant, sporty series production. 25 examples of the CLK-GTR were built in total.
1999: Dynamism and power: the Vision SLR
Unveiled by Mercedes-Benz at the 1999 Auto Show in Detroit, the Vision SLR concept vehicle was the study of a Gran Turismo for the 21st century. It combined stylistic elements of both the Formula One Silver Arrow and the SLR sports car of the 1950s, with which drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Karl Kling and Stirling Moss raced to one victory after another. The Vision SLR did not remain a concept vehicle, however. In 2004 the vehicle went into series production as the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and was built in a number of different variants until 2010.
The chassis of the Vision SLR was made from a combination of composite fibre materials and aluminium. From a displacement of 5.5 litres, the eight-cylinder engine developed 410 kW (557 hp) and ranked as one of most powerful power units in this displacement class. The Vision SLR achieved impressive performance figures: it could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds and from 0 to 200 km/h in
11.3 seconds, with a top speed of 320 km/h.
2004: Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG, a masterpiece of racing technology
AMG delivered another piece of thoroughbred racing technology for the road in 2004. The Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG was closely modelled on one of the most successful racing cars of its day, the racing version of the Mercedes-Benz CLK, the car in which Bernd Schneider won the German Touring Masters DTM in 2003.
The series version of the vehicle was powered by an AMG 5.5-litre V8 supercharged engine, delivering an output of 428 kW (582 hp). It also boasted an all-new chassis, optionally available sports tyres and aerodynamics optimised in the wind tunnel. The super sports car covered the sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds, its top speed electronically limited to 320 km/h.
The interior of this exclusive automobile featured two leather-upholstered AMG sports bucket seats with four-point seat belts, steering was via an oval AMG racing steering wheel with suede upholstery, and information was gleaned from the AMG instrument cluster with a speedometer range up to 360 km/h. The Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG was built in a limited edition of 100 units.
2010: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
The story of super sports cars from Mercedes-Benz is the story of extraordinary originals. Each of these vehicles is representative of the most innovating technology of its day, and of the utmost fascination and exclusivity of very small series production and a high degree of handcraftsmanship. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG arrived on the scene in 2010 to continue this story.
With its unique technology package, the new super sports car from Mercedes-Benz and AMG is an enthralling sight – and one which guarantees vehicle dynamics of the highest level thanks to a combination of aluminium spaceframe body and gullwing doors, an AMG 6.3-litre V8 front-mid-engine developing 420 kW (571 hp), 650 Nm of torque and dry sump lubrication, a 7-speed double-declutch transmission in a transaxle arrangement, sports suspension with aluminium double wishbones and a kerb weight of 1620 kilograms. The ideal weight distribution of 47 percent to 53 percent between front and rear axle and the vehicle’s lower centre of gravity add emphasis to the distinctive sports car concept. The Gullwing accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds; it has a top speed (electronically limited) of 317 km/h.
Source: Daimler AG