Lot 130: 1927 Mercedes-Benz Type S Sports Tourer
Coachwork by Sindelfingen
‘The S model, the masterpiece of Professor Ferdinand Porsche during his time at Daimler-Benz, and its derivatives are among the cars of the century which still fascinate us to this day. One reason for this is their sheer size, the result solely of the massive size of the engine with its 6,800cc capacity, which was increased to 7,065cc from the SS onwards.
‘Their type codes mark their journey into legend and are themselves already legends. S for Sport, SS (from 1928) for Super Sport, SSK (also from 1929) for Super Sport Kurz (Short)… SSKL (from 1931 onwards) for Super Sport Kurz Leicht (Short Light)…’ - Mercedes, Rainer W Schlegelmilch & Hartmut Lehbrink.
At the end of the First World War, both Daimler and Benz went back to producing cars. Trading conditions in the early 1920s though, were extremely difficult: the War had left Germany’s economy in ruins and there was rampant inflation. Of the 86 German car factories operating in 1924, only 19 were in existence three years later. If the two great rivals were to survive, it would have to be in partnership. On 1st July 1926, Daimler and Benz completed their merger, the two companies having paved the way with a technical co-operation agreement in 1924. By this time, Paul Daimler, founder Gottlieb’s son and the company’s Chief Engineer, had moved to Horch, his place being taken by Professor Ferdinand Porsche. Like his predecessor, Porsche was an advocate of forced induction, and although he would leave Daimler-Benz in 1928, his legacy was a range of supercharged Mercedes cars that are the stuff of legend.
Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft had introduced the world’s first supercharged production cars, the 6/25/40hp and 10/40/65hp four-cylinder models, at the 1921 Berlin Automobile Show. (The three figures refer to nominal rated horsepower, horsepower un-blown and horsepower with blower engaged respectively). On his arrival early in 1923, Porsche busied himself further developing the blown four and eight-cylinder racers designed by Paul Daimler, and the 15/70/100hp and 24/100/140hp supercharged, six-cylinder, production models that would debut at the Berlin Automobile Show in 1924. After the 1926 merger these were re-classified as types 400 and 630. That same year a ‘K’ (Kurz - Short) version became available for the first time, on a wheelbase reduced from 3,759cm to 3,403.6cm.
The Type S made its winning debut at the Nürburgring’s opening race on 19th June 1927, the two works cars entered being driven by Adolf Rosenberger and the legendary Rudolf Caracciola, with victory going to the latter. The model represented a major advance on the 630K, featuring a new lower chassis whose front and rear elements were swept up over the axles, and a more powerful 6.8-litre engine capable of producing 180bhp with blower engaged. The following SS model’s larger engine raised that figure to 225bhp, while the short-wheelbase SSK enjoyed 250bhp and the tiny handful of SSKL ‘works specials’ built came with a 300bhp unit. Despite a stratospheric asking price, the SS and its fellows almost certainly made no money for Mercedes-Benz. Nevertheless, the favourable publicity generated by their numerous competition successes, including Caracciola’s heroic drive to victory in the 1931 Mille Miglia at the wheel of an SS (the ‘White Elephant’) had a most beneficial effect on the Mercedes-Benz balance sheet.
After serving as a factory show car, this particular Type S, chassis number ‘35255’, was used as a demonstration vehicle and driven by works driver Adolf Rosenberger between 1927 and 1932. The car was progressively altered and updated by the factory until sold by them in April 1932 to Mr Franz Schaumeier in Nice, France. All of this is recorded in the copy of the factory commission papers that are with the car.
From 1932 onwards ‘35255’ remained on the French Riviera until it was discovered in 1969, in a neglected condition, by one of Europe’s foremost classic car specialists, A F Looyens of Amsterdam and later Luxembourg. In 1970 Looyens sold parts of the car to the late Peter Scharwechter and Dr Horst Miller in Stuttgart. Many years later, in 2003, the project was bought from Messrs Miller and Scharwechter by the Dutch investor Mr Rupert Blijlevens, who then sold it to J H Proffit and J A Paalman who already owned the chassis. With all the available original pieces brought together again, the car was reassembled and restored to its 1932 configuration between 2005 and 2007. (It should be noted that ‘35255’ was originally equipped with engine number ‘60418’, which has since been lost to an American ‘SSK’ project. Fortunately, a correct 1927 engine numbered ‘60516’ was found and has been installed).
The restoration undertaken by a number of prominent specialists; the coachwork being entrusted to Peter Scharwechter and the engine/gearbox to Beier Automobiltechnik (both in Germany) with final finishing of the chassis and body by Vancouver Restorations in the Netherlands. A full list of the individuals/companies concerned is available. Currently registered in the Netherlands, this most important Mercedes-Benz comes with a comprehensive file of restoration invoices and other documentation.
Après avoir servi de voiture de salon pour l’usine, cette Type S châssis n° 35255 utilisée comme véhicule de démonstration a été conduite par le pilote d’usine Adolf Rosenberger entre 1927 et 1932. Elle fut donc peu à peu modifiée et modernisée par l’usine jusqu’à sa vente en avril 1932 à M. Franz Schaumeier résidant à Nice (France). Cet historique est attesté par la copie des documents d’attestation d’usine accompagnant la voiture.
A partir de 1932, « 32255 » est restée sur la Côte d’azur jusqu’à sa découverte en 1969, en état d’abandon, par l’un des grands spécialistes européens des automobiles classiques, A. F. Looyens d’Amsterdam (puis du Luxembourg). En 1970, Looyens vendit des pièces de cette voiture à Peter Scharwechter et au Dr Horst Miller de Stuttgart. Plus tard, en 2003, le projet de restauration fut racheté à MM. Miller et Scharwechter par un investisseur hollandais, M. Rupert Blijlevens qui le revendit à J. H. Proffit et J. A. Paalman déjà propriétaires du châssis. La voiture fut donc réassemblée avec toutes les pièces d’origine disponibles et remise dans sa configuration de 1932 entre 2005 et 2007. (On notera que le moteur d’origine n° 60418 cédé autrefois pour un projet de reconstruction d’une SSK en Amérique a été remplacé par un moteur correct de 1927, le n° 60516).
La restauration a impliqué plusieurs spécialistes réputés : carrosserie confiée à Peter Scharwechter, moteur et boîte à Beier Automobiltechnik et finition du châssis et de la carrosserie à Vancouver Restoration aux Pays-Bas. La liste complète des fournisseurs est disponible. Immatriculée aux Pays-Bas, cette très importante Mercedes-Benz est accompagnée d’un dossier complet de factures de travaux et de documentations diverses.
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