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eMercedesBenz Feature: The Supercharged Cars Of Mercedes-Benz In The 1920s And 1930s
Posted August 19, 2008 At 10:20 AM CST by T. Philips



It was a distinction to be able to drive such a car: in the 1920s and 1930s, the supercharged cars from Mercedes-Benz and the predecessor brand Mercedes eclipsed all the powerful and refined cars that had existed until then. They launched a new era in automotive engineering. Captains of industry and politicians, artists and sports men and women – the people driving supercharged Mercedes cars in those days opted for an image of savoir vivre and dynamism, for the most advanced engineering and the most refined design. In short, for the best cars in the world.

Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) used the valuable experience gained with the supercharging of aircraft engines for boosting the power of vehicle engines for the first time after World War I – and a new performance category was born. The first supercharged Mercedes models were displayed at the Berlin Motor Show in 1921 and caused quite a stir among automotive experts. Racing cars were equally equipped with superchargers, and in April 1922, Max Sailer won the production car class of the Targa Florio at the wheel of a supercharged 28/95 hp Mercedes.

The first cars were followed, for instance, by the 15/70/100 hp Mercedes (1921 - 1924, later renamed model 400), the 24/100/140 hp Mercedes (1924 - 1929, later renamed 630) and the 630 K (1926 - 1929). They dwarfed the competition with their sheer size alone, as exemplified by the legendary supercharged

Mercedes-Benz sports cars from the S series with six-cylinder engines, i.e. models S (Sport), SS (Super – Sport), SSK (Super – Sport – Kurz) and SSKL (Super – Sport – Kurz – Leicht), “Kurz” standing for short and “Leicht” for light. The S models came onto the market from 1927, one year after the merger of DMG and Benz & Cie. into Daimler-Benz AG, and they became the benchmark in the category of super sports cars. They dominated the motor sport scene until 1933 – creating a legend in acoustic terms as well. This was because the engines’ enormous power development was accompanied by the distinctive sound of the supercharger, a high-frequency screeching of the air compressed in the chargers. Contemporaries compared the howling with a concert of the “Trumpets of Jericho”. The more mythically inclined felt reminded of the “Valkyries’ battle cry” or suspected a “howling goddess of vengeance” under the long engine hood. The character of the early sports cars with supercharged engines was best summarized by the line “Thunder and lightning” with which the British classic-car magazine Classic and Sportscar once described the appearance of a Mercedes-Benz SSK in the classic Shelsley-Walsh hillclimb race.

Expression of performance, luxury and maximum exclusiveness

From 1930, the supercharger was also used, in acoustically damped form, in the brand’s famous eight-cylinder cars, the Mercedes-Benz 380, the 500 K and 540 K. These differed from the previous cars in their character in that they had been designed for fast and comfortable travel rather than racing. At the same time, these and other models were expressions of performance, luxury and maximum exclusiveness. Each individual car was manufactured by hand, often precisely to the wishes and ideas of customers.

The claim to perfection which prevailed in the design and manufacture of the supercharged Mercedes-Benz cars was the foundation for the fascination these cars have been exuding to this very day. Whether in the world’s leading Concours d’Elegance, in historical racing events or in reliability trials – a supercharged car from Mercedes or Mercedes-Benz moves into the limelight wherever it appears.

Supercharged models from the 1920s and 1930s all have one thing in common: they represent the ultimate in automotive engineering in their respective era. To drive them, to hear the shriek of the mechanical charger, to feel the power of its engine, to enjoy the luxury of the refined ambience or to compete in racing at the wheel of an S model – that was clearly the crowning glory of motoring.

The small production volume turned the supercharged cars from Untertürkheim into exclusive collectors’ items for just a few privileged enthusiasts. These cars are therefore hard-fought-for stars at classic-car auctions. In the auctioneers’ catalogues, they are usually depicted without the recommended prices which are otherwise customary. Someone who really appreciates such a car does not have to have it valued.

The supercharged cars also exemplify the enormous range in the portfolio of Mercedes-Benz in those days, from everyday models at the one end, affording sound and technically perfect mobility, through to the supercharged cars at the other end, which met the highest demands on outstanding engine power and the most refined equipment. This ambition of Mercedes-Benz, namely to meet the customers’ needs perfectly in every respect, is today as strong as ever, as demonstrated by products ranging from the A-Class through to the AMG versions of the luxury-class models.

Incidentally, present-day supercharged Mercedes-Benz models share nothing but the designation with the first and second generation of supercharged cars from the early years. In today’s models, the supercharger boosts output and torque discreetly and permanently while at the same time ensuring excellent fuel economy; it contributes to a reduction in weight and, in combination with other components, to improved emission control as well.

The supercharger conquers the automobile

When brothers Francis and Philander Roots filed a patent application for their blower in1860, they had no idea that their charger would once become the stuff of automotive legends. The two manufacturers from Connersville in the American Middle West had actually only intended to boost the output of the water turbine in their spinning company.

Their rotary-piston blower is the prototype of all Roots blowers as they are still being used in automotive production today. On principle, the Roots blower works like a gear pump. However, instead of two intermeshing gear wheels, two counter-rotating rollers with octagonal cross-sections are used to deliver the gases. The rollers operate with small clearances in a casing whose interior basically consists of two hemispherical parts which are connected at a certain distance. The gases are compressed by the delivery pressure. The supercharger is driven by the crankshaft – in the Mercedes-Benz 500 K, for instance, it rotates at four times the engine speed.

When such a Roots blower is installed as a pressure charger ahead of the carburetor, it presses pre-compressed air into the carburetor where it is mixed with fuel. The advantage over a carburetor without upstream supercharger is that the Roots blower raises the cylinder charge through pre-compression – and a higher charge produces more power.

A suction-type supercharger mounted behind the carburetor operates according to the same principle in that it is a so-called wet charger which compresses the fuel/air mixture. The effect is the same as in the case of the pressure carburetor. Its advantages come to the fore in racing where the suction-type supercharger copes with higher loads thanks to the better interior cooling of the fuel/air mixture.

The production cars of Mercedes and Mercedes-Benz always featured pressure-type superchargers which were easier to service. In the Mercedes-Benz 500 K, for instance, they generated an excess pressure of 0.3 bar and boosted output from 100 naturally-aspirated hp (74 kW) to 160 supercharged hp (118 kW).

From testing to production maturity

Shortly before the end of World War I, Paul Daimler, son of automobile inventor Gottlieb Daimler and Chief Engineer at DMG, equipped the Knight sleeve-valve engine of a 16/50 hp Mercedes with a Roots blower. He drew on the experience gained with superchargers in aircraft and submarine engine production during World War I, where the mechanical air compressor had been used to compensate for power losses at high altitudes. However, the sleeve-valve engine proved to be unsuitable for combination with a supercharger.

A large number of tests were then made with supercharging the large six-cylinder 28/95 hp Mercedes engine with a displacement of 7.3 liters, which generated 140 hp (103 kW) with a supercharger. The results of these experiments were promising. In 1922 a Mercedes with the supercharged 28/95 hp engine was entered in racing for the first time, in the Targa Florio, and Max Sailer drove the car to victory in the category of production cars upward of 4.5 liters and thus to second place in the overall rankings.

Even before that, Paul Daimler had experimented with the small 2.6-liter four-cylinder 10/30 hp Mercedes which caused quite a stir at the 1921 Berlin Motor Show where it was displayed as a supercharged 10/35 hp model alongside the 1.6-liter four-cylinder 6/20 hp. Another two years would pass before production maturity was reached. At any rate, in the cars renamed 10/40/65 hp and 6/25/40 hp in 1924, the supercharger boosted output by a good 50 percent.

However, the technology was extremely complex at the time and therefore came at a high price. The first supercharged Mercedes models were highly expensive cars in their day and age, and only modest numbers were sold. And yet they laid the foundations for ongoing developments.

Matured high-performance cars

When Paul Daimler left the company founded by his father in 1922, Ferdinand Porsche took over as Chief Engineer and continued Daimler’s work. He, too, swore by supercharger technology, knowing that the sophisticated blower system was primarily suitable for high-performance and luxury cars. Consequently, Porsche’s first designs for DMG were luxury cars – the 15/70/100 hp Mercedes and the 24/100/140 hp Mercedes (the latter being available in six different bodywork variants, for instance). The engines featured light-alloy crankcases as well as cylinder liners and cylinder heads made of gray cast iron.

As was customary at the time, the first figure indicated the tax horsepower rating which depended on displacement, the second the engine output in naturally aspirated operation and the third the output with the supercharger engaged. When the two Porsche designs with four-liter and 6.3-liter six-cylinder engines were introduced at the Berlin Motor Show, they ranked among the most powerful road-going cars of their day and age, courtesy of their Roots blowers.

They were surpassed by a car from their own ranks, the 24/100/140 hp Mercedes-Benz K built from 1926; its two predecessors – renamed Mercedes-Benz 400 and 630 – remained in the range for the time being after the merger of DMG and Benz & Cie. in 1926. In contrast to the supercharged eight-cylinder Mercedes-Benz cars launched at a later stage, from 1934, however, the “K” did not stand for ‘supercharger’ (Kompressor in German) but stood for ‘short’ (kurz in German) to refer to the car’s 35 centimeter shorter wheelbase. Other versions available were the 620 K and 630 K, both with 24/110/160 hp; the 630 K had a top speed of around 145 km/h and was thus the fastest production car of its time. The 680 K was made available with 26/120/180 hp engine and as a racing car only with 26/145/270 hp engine. Incidentally, the special feature of the K models was the arrangement of three silver-colored exhaust pipes on the outside of the engine hood on the right-hand side and serving as a visual hallmark of the supercharged Mercedes-Benz models in addition to their acoustic identifier, namely the supercharger’s distinctive sound.

Despite all these superlatives, the supercharged Mercedes models of the early years were merely tentative exercises for what Daimler-Benz would produce from 1927: the Mercedes-Benz S, SS, SSK and SSKL.

Sheer power

First entry, first victory. The Mercedes-Benz S, which had been developed in Untertürkheim since February 1927, made its first public appearance in the opening race on the Nürburgring on June 19, 1927 – and crowned its debut with a superior double victory. It thus underpinned its claim to replacing the 630 K as the fastest passenger car in its day and age.

With model designations Mercedes-Benz S, SS, SSK and SSKL, the supercharged models built from 1927 went down in history. There are hardly any other passenger car series in automotive history which have accumulated as many superlatives as the S models from Stuttgart. No other contemporary road-going vehicle was capable of such high speeds while at the same time being as robust, reliable and long-lived. And no other car exudes as much timeless fascination as the large supercharged six-cylinder models from Mercedes-Benz – decades after they went out of production. With these cars, Ferdinand Porsche set himself an impressive designer’s monument.

Based on the 630 K and the further developed version, with a vertical-shaft six-cylinder, displacement enlarged to 6.8 liters and lowered chassis, the S surpassed its predecessor in every respect. Without the supercharger engaged, an early version of its engine with overhead valves transferred as much as 120 hp (88 kW) to the rear wheels. And when the accelerator was pressed down beyond the full-throttle point, the Roots blower driven by bevel gears was engaged, causing the multi-plate clutch to transmit a mighty 180 hp (132 kW).

Overall, Mercedes-Benz built 146 units of these intriguing S sports cars with the designation 26/120/180 hp – as two-seater racing cars, open tourers and comfortable convertibles. However, as early as 1928 the 27/140/200 hp SS, internally known as W 06, was launched. With a compression ratio raised from 1:4.7 to 1:5.2, the engine, equally fitted with double (magneto and battery) ignition, generated 20 hp (15 kW) more than the first version. Between 1928 and 1930, 111 buyers raised the 35,000 Reichsmark charged for an SS model.

While the single S stood for ‘Sport’, the double SS denoted ‘Super – Sport’. Compared with the S model, which was already blessed with a host of superlatives, the SS caused the degree of fascination to skyrocket. A displacement enlarged to 7.1 liters, light-alloy pistons, a larger valve diameter and output ratings of 200, 225 and 250 hp (147, 165 and 184 kW) fully justified the epithet ‘Super’.

This was the absolute dream car in its day and age. However, contemporary sports car drivers would have quoted an even more attractive proposition, namely the SSK with a chassis that was 45 centimeters shorter than that of the SS. With the supercharger engaged, the 7.1-liter engine generated up to 250 hp (184 kW).

This power-pack was surpassed only by the Mercedes-Benz SSKL (W 06 RS) – a thoroughbred sports car with a mighty 300 hp (221 kW). Thanks to numerous weight-shedding measures, the car was some 200 kilograms lighter than the SSK which weighed in at 1.7 tons.

Contemporaries may have seen this car as an infernal machine. Its drivers, however, enjoyed a whole string of victories in the Mille Miglia (Rudolf Caracciola, 1931) and many other major races in the 1920s and 1930s.

Sporty ambition and beauty ideal

“Here are the ‘Mercs’ of motoring mythology [...] Here the three great exhaust pipes emerge from the bonnet side to be copied by all and sundry who wanted to make a Mercedes-like impression. Here the great three-pointed star rides so big and large before the driver that it becomes almost a fighter pilot’s sight. And nowhere else but in a fighter plane could one sit behind so much engine.”

In his book The Mighty Mercedes published in 1971, technical author Michael Frostick describes the appearance of the supercharged Mercedes-Benz models with epic precision. This applies to the sports cars from the S series as well as to the other models which carried the supercharger legend into the 1940s. Mechanical engineering at its best, world-class bodybuilding and hitherto unknown levels of luxury – these were the hallmarks of the Mercedes-Benz 380 (W 22, 1933 - 1934), the 500 K (W 29, 1934 - 1936) and the 540 K (W 29 and W 24, 1936 - 1939). The Grand Mercedes, model 770, was optionally available with a supercharger, and hardly a customer failed to order it. All of these cars represented the pinnacle in German motor manufacturing before World War II.

Cars with refined grandeur

While the S, SS, SSK and SSKL had impressed people with their aggressive appearance and sheer power, the mighty luxury cars bewitched people with refined grandeur. The supercharged new-generation cars designed by Chief Engineer Hans Nibel were less suitable for sporting achievements – instead, their strengths lay in extremely comfortable and relaxed travel at high average speeds.

The 380 was launched in February 1933. It was available with different engine versions – three of these with supercharging. The 380 was the first to feature a four-speed transmission with the top gear designed as overdrive. Several different bodies were available ex factory: sedan, tourer, sports roadster and three different convertibles. This was also the first time that independent wheel suspension all round ensured excellent handling and ride characteristics in a car of this size.

The 380 was replaced by the more powerful 500 K in 1934. In engine design, Nibel set particularly great store by very smooth running characteristics and superior power which nonetheless developed gently – and the engine proved to be quite majestic indeed. The eight-cylinder in-line engine of the 500 K – and of the 540 K at a later stage – was over one meter long and consisted of a special sound-absorbing gray cast iron. The gray cast iron cylinder head alone, with parallel overhead valves, actuated via rocker arms and push rods from the lateral camshaft, demonstrated the very best in engineering. However, this high level of mechanical refinement came at a price in the form of weight: the complete eight-cylinder engine of a 500 K weighed more than 600 kilograms.

Both the 500 K and the 540 K available from 1936 were offered with two wheelbase lengths. The short chassis with a wheelbase of 2.98 meters served as the backbone for the sporty roadster and coupe versions as well as for the short convertible A version of the 540 K.

The Sindelfingen bodywork sets standards

The long chassis with a wheelbase of 3.29 meters was available in combination with all bodywork versions. In their design work, the bodybuilders in Sindelfingen pulled out all their stops. Their creations were of unsurpassed elegance, the highest dimensional accuracy, impressive durability and perfect workmanship. In addition, they fulfilled even the most eccentric customer wishes with respect to appointments and design. Snake-skin seat covers, mother-of-pearl inlays in the dashboard, conspicuously sweeping fenders – everything was possible. Even the standard range with more than ten bodywork versions – from the streamlined coupe via sedan and open tourer to convertibles A, B and C and the sports and special roadsters – left hardly anything to be desired. Over and above this, the 540 K was also available as motorway courier with streamlined bodywork.

The demanding clientele appreciated this generous choice and the outstanding skills of the plant’s own bodybuilders. Contrary to what was customary at the time, namely to order the chassis from a manufacturer and having a body of one’s own choice tailored by an independent bodybuilder, the majority of 500 K and 540 K buyers ordered bodywork from the Daimler-Benz plant in Sindelfingen.

At 160 hp (118 kW) with the supercharger engaged, the output of the 500 K was already more than lavish by contemporary standards, but the 540 K built between 1936 and June 1943 capped it all off with displacement enlarged by 0.4 liters, output with the supercharged engaged increased by 20 hp (15 kW) and, most importantly, with a major boost in torque.

The Grand Mercedes

The 770 Grand Mercedes was the largest car in the company’s model line-up at the time. It would hardly have been possible to travel in a more refined and more luxurious style. The first W 07 series (1930 - 1938) was available with or without supercharger. With supercharger, the eight-cylinder engine generated 200 hp (147 kW) from a displacement of 7.7 liters. In this car, the supercharger was not meant to give the car a sporty performance but served as a highly welcome acceleration aid – the car did after all weigh around 2.7 tons, depending on equipment. The second version (W 150) with light-alloy eight-cylinder engine was launched into the market in 1938 and continued to be built until 1943. The engine developed 155 hp (114 kW) from a displacement of equally 7.7 liters – and 230 hp (169 kW) with the supercharger engaged.

Race victories with the supercharger

Targa Florio 1922: the very first time the supercharged 28/95 hp Mercedes with Max Sailer at the wheel was entered in a major race, it won the category of production touring cars upwards of 4.5-liter displacement. This victory marked the start of a whole string of successes of supercharged Mercedes and Mercedes-Benz racing cars.

In the 1920s, the nimble 1.5- and two-liter racing cars with superchargers scored success after success for Mercedes-Benz. And when the first outing of the S model in the opening race on the Nürburgring in 1927 ended with a one-two victory, this was the beginning of a period of almost uninterrupted dominance by the supercharged cars from Untertürkheim – right through to the outbreak of World War II.

The mighty supercharged six-cylinder engines of the Mercedes-Benz S, SS, SSK and SSKL topped the winners’ lists with dogged regularity. Victories in the German Grand Prix in 1927, 1928 and 1931, first places in the Argentinean Grand Prix in 1929 and 1931 and the only overall victory of a German driver in the legendary Mille Miglia to date, scored in 1931 by Rudolf Caracciola at the wheel of an

Mercedes-Benz SSKL – all these were evidence of the supercharger’s superiority.

When Mercedes-Benz entered the W 25 for the new 750-kilogram formula in the Eifel Race in 1934, the supercharged eight-cylinder racing car launched the Silver Arrow legend: first start, first victory – thereby setting the standard for things to come. The Mercedes-Benz W 25, W 125, W 154 and W 165 dominated the Grand Prix races – with the exception of those in 1936 – at will. Mercedes-Benz works drivers clinched the European Champion’s titles in 1935, 1937, 1938 and 1939.

Not only the victories were impressive, however. The aggressive supercharger sound of the W 25 and W 125 engines with up to 700 hp (515 kW), of the small 1.5-liter V8 with 254 hp (187 kW) in the W 165, and the infernal howling of the W 154 three-liter V12 with up to 483 hp (355 kW) entered from 1937 drowned the sounds of all other racing cars built until then.

Celebrities and their supercharged cars

Birds of a feather flock together – relating to more than 120 years of automotive history, this saying illustrates the fact that international celebrities have always had a soft spot for cars of the Mercedes and Mercedes-Benz brands – stars at the wheel of cars with the three-pointed star. With the launch of the supercharger era, this predilection became a passion: aristocrats, top managers, actresses and actors, singers, politicians and captains of industry did not want to be without supercharged Mercedes cars.

Wilhelm Merck, for instance, owner of a Darmstadt-based chemical company, even competed in several races with his SSK. His wife Ernes Merck equally lined up at the start of races in her Mercedes-Benz S, among them the Klausen Pass hillclimb race in 1927.

Alfred Dinkelacker, owner of a brewery in Stuttgart, had his S upgraded into an SS – it is not known whether this was done for racing or not. By and large, only a minority of the celebrities bought supercharged cars with the aim of earning sporting laurels. First and foremost, they wanted their cars for image-enhancing or representative purposes.

During his period of office as Foreign Minister, former Chancellor Gustav Stresemann had himself chauffeured in a 24/100/140 hp Mercedes. Star tenor Richard Tauber posed highly adorably next to his 15/70/100 hp Mercedes in photos for the contemporary yellow press. British actress Lilian Harvey (who starred, among others, in the German movie “Die Drei von der Tankstelle”) doted on her Mercedes-Benz SS. Crime fiction author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle invested part of his Sherlock Holmes royalties in an SSK.

The list of celebrities driving the Mercedes-Benz 500 K and 540 K could be continued ad infinitum: Marika Rökk and Gustav Gründgens drove the 540 K as did singers Jan Kiepura and James Melton. However, few contemporaries were lucky enough to be able to combine their profession with their passion as much as Rudolf Caracciola, for instance. The Number One among the Daimler-Benz Grand Prix works drivers always had the latest supercharged model at his disposal, from S via SS and SSK through to the 540 K special coupe – all of them made available to him as company cars.

The early supercharged cars from Mercedes and
Mercedes-Benz

Model
Internal designation
Production period*
Volume
Mercedes
6/25/40 hp
1921 – 1924
n. d.
6/25/38 hp
1924 – 1925
n. d.
6/40/65 hp Sport
1924
n. d.
10/40/65 hp
1921 – 1924
n. d.
15/70/100 hp 1)
1924 – 1929
1943**
24/100/140 hp 2)
1924 – 1929
1080**
Mercedes-Benz
24/100/140 hp K 3)
1926 – 1929
150**
26/120/180 hp S
1927 – 1928
146
27/140/200 hp SS 4)
W 06
1928 – 1933
111
27/170/225 hp SS
W 06
1928 – 1933
5)
27/140/200 hp SSK 6)
W 06 II
1928 – 1932
33
27/170/225 hp SSK
W 06 III
1928 – 1930
7)
27/180/250 hp SSK
W 06 III
1928 – 1930
7)
27/240/300 hp SSKL
W 06 RS
1931
7)
770 8)
W 07
1930 – 1938
117**
380 8)
W 22
1933 – 1934
154**
500 K
W 29
1934 – 1936
342***
540 K
W 29
1936 – 1939
319***
540 K long-wheelbase
W 24
1936
12
580 K (prototype)
W 129
1939/1940
n. d.
770
W 150
1938 – 1943
88


1) Mercedes-Benz from 1926, 15/70/100 hp 400 model from 1928
2) Mercedes-Benz from 1926, 24/100/140 hp 630 model from 1928
3) 24/110/160 hp K from 1928
4) 27/160/200 hp SS from 1930
5) included in the volume of the 27/140/200 hp SS
6) 27/160/200 hp SSK from 1929
7) included in the volume of the 27/140/200 hp SSK
8) supercharger optionally available
* from prototype series to the discontinuation of production
** all engine versions
*** all chassis versions
n. d. = not documented





Timeless elegance: The Mercedes-Benz 540 K is the product of highly -skilled workmanship, Swabian industriousness and ingenious imagination - and is still considered today to be one of the most beautiful cars in the world.


Superlative car: The Mercedes-Benz SSK was the fastest German production car at the end of the twenties.


Amidst the treasuresat the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center the compressor cars have a special role to play - they're the superstars among the stars.


A fine specimen of an engine: the Mercedes-Benz 540 K's 5.4 litre, eight-cylinder compressor engine.


A fine specimen of an engine: the Roots blower.


Sporty and elegant:The Mercedes 6/25/40 hp with 1.6 litre compressor engine and the 2.6 litre 10/40/65 hp were the first Mercedes supercharged production cars.


Extravagant, imposing and luxurious: Mercedes-Benz Type K with Saoutchik body.


Power and elegance: that was what the Mercedes 15/70/100 hp and the 24/100/ 140 hp symbolized. With the Type K first built in 1926 they were the forerunners of the legendary Type S.


German workmanship, Belgian elegance: SS type from d' Ieteren Frères.


Luxury version of the SS: the cabriolet with an upholstered hood.


The most common version of the Mercedes-Benz SS: the open touring car.


Mercedes-Benz SS as spartan roadster, 1928-1934.


German engineering, Italian chic: SS with cabriolet body by Castagna.


Slender, supple, handsome, strong and fast - guaranteed to catch the lady's eye ...: Mercedes-Benz with 6.8 litre compressor engine.


Powerful lineup: View of the Mercedes-Benz stand at the Paris Motor Show in 1928, with a special supercharged sports car – model S – with bodywork by Saoutchik in the foreground (left).


Mercedes-Benz 380 cabriolet B version, with indipendent wheel suspension, 1933/1934.


Mercedes-Benz Typ 380. On the occasion of the Berlin motorshow in February 1933, the public had the opportunity to admire the beautiful shape of this car for the first time. It was powered by an eight-cylinder in-line engine, wich had an output of 140 h.p. when supercharged. In 1934 the 380 model gave way to the famous 500 K model.


Great automotive design: Mercedes-Benz 500 K with "Autobanh-Kurier" bodywork, 1934.


Great automotive design: Mercedes-Benz 500 K with "Autobanh-Kurier" bodywork, 1934.


The A cabriolet versions of the 500 K and the 540 K: the epitomy of tastefulness and elegance.


Mercedes-Benz 500 K sports sedan, 1935.


Mercedes-Benz 500 K luxury roadster, 1935.


Mercedes-Benz 500 K "Spezial-Roadster", 1936.


Mercedes-Benz 500 K "Spezial-Roadster", 1936.


Sporty luxury car: Mercedes-Benz 500 K "Spezial-Roadster", displayed at the 1936 International Motor Show in Berlin.


Mercedes-Benz 540 K, Cabriolet B, two doors, four windows, 1936/37.


Mercedes-Benz 540 K "Spezial-Roadster", one of the most beautiful cars of the thirties, 1936/37.


Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet B


Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet B


A typical feature of the "Spezial-Roadster": the divided, V-shaped windscreen.


Mercedes-Benz 540 K tourer, 1937.


Long front end, short rear end: The Mercedes-Benz 540 K coupé was also designated as "Sport-Coupé" or "Spezial-Coupé".


A customized 540 K "Spezial-Roadster" built in 1937: with extra tanks on the running boards for long-distance travelling.


A rarity: This 540 K "Autobahn-Kurier" was the only one of its kind built.


Luxury at its best: The dashboard of the 540 K.


Coupé versions of the 500 K and the 540 K: the epitomy of tastefulness and elegance.


Stealing the show: No matter where a Mercedes-Benz 540 K appears, it is bound to be surrounded by a crowd of admirers. The photograph shows one of the rare A cabriolets from 1938.


Mercedes-Benz 770 "Grand Mercedes", 1938-1942. When this imposing car was introduced at the Berlin Motor Show in 1938, there was no need to worry about its image – this had already been built by its predecessor. The technical highlights of this car, newly developed from the ground up, included an oval tubular frame, independent wheel suspension with coil springs at the front, a De Dion axle at the rear and a newly developed five-speed synchronized transmission. The car was powered by a supercharged eight-cylinder engine which developed 230 hp.


Targa Florio, Sicily, April 2, 1922. A supercharged model was used for the first time in this race: the Mercedes 6/40/65 hp (4 cylinders, series cars up to 1.5 liters with supercharger). The photograph shows the driver Paul Scheef and navigator Jakob Krauss, who took third place.


26/170/225 hp Mercedes-Benz S racing and touring sports car, 1927.


Ralph de Palma at the wheel of his 26/120/180 hp Mercedes-Benz S, the car with which he won two races on the racetrack in Atlantic City, New Jersey/USA, on May 30, 1928.


From the road onto the race track accompanied by the compressor's howl: Manfred von Brauchitsch drove the best touring car time in the Gaisberg Race in 1929 in his Mercedes-Benz SS.


Rudolf Caracciola in the Mercedes-Benz SSK in 1930.


The power and the glory: The Mercedes-Benz SSK and SSKL could always be counted on to win races. Racing drivers like Rudolf Caracciola won their first big victories in them.


The look of a winner: Rudolf Caracciola and the SSK taking victory in the sports car contest during the Klausen Race in 1930.


The supercharged silver arrows dominated the racing scene before the War - Rudolf Caracciola winning the Swiss Grand Prix in the W 125 in 1937.


Mercedes-Benz racing car W 25 at the International Eifel race on the Nürburgring, 1934


Celebrity cult: British actress Lilian Harvey and her German colleague Willi Fritsch in a Mercedes-Benz S during a break while shooting a film in Africa.


Celebrity cult: Richard Tauber, star tenor of the 1920s and 1930s, liked to be photographed with his 15/70/100 hp Mercedes.


Car lover: British actress Lilian Harvey doted on her Mercedes-Benz SS.



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