This year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California will see Mercedes-Benz Classic using the carmaker’s ‘125 Years of Motorsport’ anniversary year theme. It will bring a reconstructed Mercedes-Benz SSKL streamlined racing car from 1932 to the annual event and it will be driven in the Tour d’Elegance along the legendary 17-mile Drive coastal route of the Monterey peninsula.
First car competition
The SSKL was an aerodynamically encased racing car with a Daimler 2-cylinder V-engine, which represented the beginning of motorsport. Vehicles equipped with engines of this type won in the first car competition in history 125 years ago – the race from Paris to Rouen on July 22 1894.
The aerodynamics pioneer Reinhard von Koenig-Fachsenfeld designed the streamlined body for the. On May 22 1932, Manfred von Brauchitsch entered the important international Avus race in Berlin with this racing car which was unusual to spectators of the time (the public promptly dubbed it ‘gherkin’) and won ahead of Rudolf Caracciola in an Alfa Romeo.
Mercedes-Benz Classic has reconstructed the innovative ‘silver arrow’, as it was described in a radio report at the time, with the highest level of authenticity. This includes the lightening holes in the chassis, typical of the SSKL, which were undertaken according to the original drawings.
In total, the racing car weighs 125 kgs less than the Mercedes-Benz SSK, which served as its basis. The complete reconstruction of the streamlined body according to historical documents was particularly laborious. For this purpose, the experts researched the archives of Mercedes-Benz Classic and those at Schloss Fachsenfeld, which the engineer and inventor Reinhard von Koenig-Fachsenfeld transferred to a foundation in 1982.
Automotive contemporary witnesses
Alongside the unique SSKL, an elegant Mercedes-Benz 320 n combination coupe (W 142) from 1938 will also be present. Other models displayed will be an authentic replica of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. The Mercedes-Simplex 40 hp from 1903 is a representative of the family of the first modern car in the world and a high-performance vehicle of its time.
Further automotive contemporary witnesses from ‘125 Years of Motorsport’ include a 3-litre W 154 Formula racing car from 1939, a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racing sportscar (W 196 S) from 1955, a Sauber-Mercedes C 9 Group-C racing sports car from 1989, and the Penske-Mercedes PC-23 IndyCar from 1994.
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has been held since 1950. Since 1955, collector’s cars have been the focus of the event and today, around 200 exquisite cars from all around the world typically take part, are judged and receive awards.