วันอังคารที่ 12 พฤษภาคม พ.ศ. 2552

>>Mercedes-Benz 500E

Mercedes-Benz 500E

Mercedes-Benz 500 E
Mercedes-Benz 500 E
Manufacturer Porsche/Daimler-Benz
Production 1991–1995
Class Mid-size luxury car
Body style(s) 4-door sedan
Engine(s) 5.0 L M119

Between 1991 and 1995, Mercedes-Benz sold a sport version of the W124, the Mercedes-Benz 500 E, created in close cooperation with Porsche. Each 500 E was hand-built by Porsche, being transported back and forth between the Mercedes plant and Porsche's Rossle-Bau plant in Zuffenhausen during assembly---taking a full 18 days to complete each model. Design began in 1989 and into 1991. Between 1992 and 1995, Mercedes/Porsche built a total of 10,479 500 E's. Of these, 1505 of the "super" sports sedans were imported into the USA between 1992-1994, or roughly 500 cars per year of importation. Called '500 E' through model year 1993, for model year 1994 it was face-lifted along with the rest of the range and renamed to 'E 500'.

The 500 E had a dual camshaft 32-valve 4973 cm3 V8 engine naturally aspirating 326 hp (240 kW) and 480 N·m (354 ft·lbf), with the engine being derived from the 500 SL (R129) roadster. Sports car braking performance also came from SL components: front SL 500 300 mm disks with 4-piston calipers came installed on the 1992 and early 1993 cars. The later 1993, and all 1994 cars came with the upgraded 320 mm set taken from the 600 SL. Rear brakes on all years were 277 mm brakes from the 500 SL. In the USA, the 500 E came fully-loaded, with the only options available to the buyer being a dealer-installed CD changer and an integrated telephone. The 500 E was only available as a four-seater, with the four leather seats supplied by Recaro (the fronts heated).

Called the "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" by the press, performance tests of the day yielded impressive results: 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) times of 5.5 to 6.0 seconds and acceleration through the quarter-mile (0.4 km) in 14.1 seconds at 163 km/h (101 mph). The top speed was redline limited at 6,000 rpm to 250 km/h (~155 mph). It was rated at 16.8 L/100 km (14 mpg) in the city and 13.8 L/100 km (17 mpg) on the highway.

With its aggressive stance: 1.5 inches wider track, 0.9 inch lower profile, flared fenders, side skirts, front air-dam and wide tires, the 500 E is easily distinguished from its lesser brethren. Because of its look, limited numbers, hand-built construction, and unique pedigree, the 500 E is already considered a "classic", even within Mercedes-Benz.


The 500 E/E 500 underwent few significant changes during its three-year production run. Models from 1992 and 1993 are virtually indistinguishable from each other, with the most notable change being a slightly less powerful engine in the 1993 model for USA. The 1994 E 500 model is more easily identified because of the cosmetic changes that affected all E-Class cars that year (updated headlights, grille, and trunklid). The engine, however, remained unchanged from the 1993 500 E.

Common performance improvements include wheel and tire replacement, aftermarket exhaust kits, and replacement or reprogramming of the Electronic Control Unit, which removes the 155 MPH speed governor. To boost acceleration times, some owners disable the car's slip reduction feature and program the automatic transmission to start in first gear instead of the normal second gear.

E 60 AMG

For the 1993 and 1994 model years, twelve E 500 Limited's were outfitted with a 6.0L M119 V8 engine by tuner AMG. These models were called the "E 60 AMG" and produced up to 400 hp (298 kW). The E 60 AMG carried a 381 BHP engine which helped the car accelerate to 60 MPH in 5.3 seconds - compared to the 500 E's claimed 6.0 seconds. Modifications included the replacement of the original components with AMG parts, including the suspension, exhaust system, instrument cluster and 17" rims. Many of the E 60 AMG's seen today are actually 500 E's and E 500's sent to the AMG factory at a later date to have the engine changed to the 6.0L V8. The original E 60 AMG models carry the "957 AMG Technology Package" in their VIN number's Options List.

>>Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9

Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9

Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9
North American-spec 1978 450SEL 6.9 featuring four sealed-beam headlights and larger bumpers than European-spec
Manufacturer Daimler-Benz
Production 1975–1981
Predecessor Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3
Successor Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL
Platform Mercedes-Benz W116

The Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 is a high-performance version of the S-Class luxury saloon. It was built on its own assembly line by Daimler-Benz in Stuttgart, Germany and based on the long-wheelbase version of the W116 chassis introduced in 1972. The model was generally referred to in the company's literature as the "6.9", to separate it from the regular 450SEL.

The 6.9 was first shown to the motoring press at the Geneva Auto Show in 1974, and produced between 1975 and 1981 in extremely limited numbers. It was billed as the flagship of the Mercedes-Benz car line, and the successor to Mercedes-Benz's original high-performance sedan, the 300SEL 6.3. The 6.9 also has the distinction of being among the first vehicles ever produced with optional electronically-controlled anti-lock brakes, first introduced by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch in 1978. The 6.9's successor — the top of range 500 SEL — continued the 6.9's remarkable self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension as an extra-cost option.

Special features

The 6.9 was the first Mercedes-Benz to be fitted with the company's new hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension system, unlike the 600 and 6.3 which employed air suspensions. The new system was similar to one developed by Citroën in 1955. Using a combination of fluid-filled struts and nitrogen-filled pressure vessels or "accumulators" in lieu of conventional shock absorbers and springs, the system was pressurized by a hydraulic pump driven by the engine's timing chain. Compared to the new Mercedes-Benz system, Citroën's was belt-driven, exactly like a conventional power steering pump; failure of the Citroën system thus might result in loss of suspension. Conversely, every unit of the 6.9 was shipped with hard rubber emergency dampers that served as temporary springs and allowed the car to be driven in the event of a hydraulic failure. The special hydraulic fluid required by the system was stored in a tank inside the engine compartment. Not only was the system totally self-adjusting, ride height could be altered by a dash-mounted push-pull knob under the speedometer that raised the car an additional two inches (50 mm) for increased ground clearance. NHTSA decreed this feature illegal in the US market, but it could be enabled simply by removing a limiter at the tank-mounted control valve.

The suspension system gave the 4200 pound (1900 kg) car the benefits of a both a smooth ride and handling that allowed it, in the words of automotive journalist David E. Davis, to be "tossed about like a Mini." The car also featured a model W3B 050 three-speed automatic transmission unique to the 6.9 and a standard ZF limited slip differential both for enhanced roadholding performance on dry pavement and enhanced traction in inclement weather.

Four-wheel disc brakes and four-wheel independent suspension were standard across the W116 model range.

The M-100 power plant

The engine was a cast iron V8 with single overhead camshafts operating sodium-filled valves (as are found in piston-driven aircraft) against hardened valve seats on each aluminium alloy cylinder head. Each hand-built unit was bench-tested for 265 minutes, 40 of which were under full load. Bosch "K-Jetronic" electromechanical fuel injection was standard at a time when fuel-injected cars were uncommon. As in all Mercedes-Benz automobile engines, the crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons were forged instead of cast. In non-US trim, the 6.9 L (6814 cc or 417 in³) power plant was conservatively rated at 286 hp (213 kW) with 405 ft·lbf (549 N·m) of torque helping to compensate for the 2.65 to 1 final drive ratio necessary for sustained high-speed cruising. The North American version, introduced in 1977, was only slightly less powerful at 250 hp (186 kW) and 360 ft·lbf (488 N·m) of torque due to more stringent emissions control requirements. In the interest of both engine longevity as well as creating some extra space under the hood, a "dry sump" engine lubrication system was used. Dry sump lubrication was originally developed for use in race cars as a way to prevent foaming of the engine oil by the crankshaft, which in turn would create a serious drop in oil pressure. The system circulated twelve quarts of oil between the storage tank and the engine, as opposed to the usual four or five quarts found in V8s with a standard oil pan and oil pump. As a result, the engine itself had no dipstick for checking the oil level. Rather, the dipstick was attached to the inside of the tank's filler cap (accessible from the engine compartment) and the oil level was checked with the engine running and at operating temperature. The dry sump system also had the benefit of extending the oil change interval to 12,500 miles (20,000 km). This, along with hydraulic valve lifters which required no adjusting and special cylinder head gaskets which eliminated the need for periodic retorquing of the head bolts, made the 6.9 nearly maintenance-free for its first 50,000 miles (80,500 km). The 6.9 required little basic service other than coolant, minor tune-ups, oil changes, and replacement of the air, fuel, oil and power steering filters.

Race track performance

Top speed was factory-rated at 140 mph (225 km/h), but some journalists testing the car saw speeds approaching 150 mph (241 km/h). Among those journalists was Brock Yates. Yates was approached by the factory to write promotional literature about the 6.9. He agreed, but under the condition that he could list the car's faults as well as its positives. Daimler-Benz agreed in turn, and Yates was given a US-spec 6.9 to drive from Manhattan to the Road Atlanta grand prix race track in Georgia. There, Yates would drive the car in as-arrived condition at racing speeds for a full 40 laps or just over 100 miles (160 km). The only change made to the car upon its arrival at Road Atlanta was the necessary adjustment of tire pressure. This was a difficult task even for a purpose-built race car, let alone a street-legal sedan designed and geared for high-speed Autobahn cruising. The 6.9 suffered no mechanical problems and averaged a very respectable 72 mph (116 km/h) throughout the test, completing it with little more than excess dust on the bodywork from the Michelin radial street tires on which the car was driven to Atlanta. Yates was so comfortable driving the 6.9 around the track that he reported having run at least one lap with the sunroof open and the radio on, but the high price of the car made him think better of such risky driving and he finished the test with the radio off and both hands on the wheel.

Price & interior features

The dashboard of a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9

All of this technology came at a very high price. At a time when the most expensive Cadillacs, the mid-sized Seville and full-sized Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five limousine each listed for about US$16,000, the 6.9 listed for around $40,000, more than most Rolls-Royces. When the car was officially introduced into the North American market for the 1977 model year, the price was well past $40,000 and was nearly $53,000 by the end of production. The only way to get a 6.9 in the US or Canada prior to 1977 was to import one through the grey market. Though the 6.9 was undeniably a luxury car, it was a rather austere one compared to the sheer opulence available in a Rolls-Royce or full-sized Cadillac. The interior was identical to that in the less expensive models except for the push-pull suspension control knob just under the speedometer, a low suspension pressure warning and height adjustment indicator lights in the instrument cluster, and wood trim finished in burled walnut veneer on the dash and console. The rest of the W116 lineup was trimmed in striated zebrano veneer.

The 6.9 lacked expected luxury touches such as power-adjustable outside mirrors or front seats, although a unique power rear seat, heated seats and even orthopedically-designed front seats were options. Buyers outside North America could also opt for headlight wipers and washers and/or headlights with a special vacuum-operated linkage whose aim could be adjusted at the dash depending on vehicle load. There was also a new standard feature in 1977-- most Mercedes-Benz automobiles that year were equipped with a sophisticated electronic climate control system developed by Chrysler Corporation for use in their top models. The system turned on the heater, air conditioner or both, depending on the thermostat's setting and ambient temperature, automatically maintaining whatever temperature the driver selected. The compressor was an American import as well, supplied by the Harrison division of General Motors.

Far more modern than the contemporary Cadillac, which still had a live rear axle, and both faster and larger inside than the either the Rolls-Royce or Cadillac, the 6.9 was indistinguishable from its W116 stablemates save for a modest "6.9" badge on the decklid and wider tires.US models also had different bumper rubbers fitted to the "park bench" impact absorbing bumpers. As discreet as the badge was, it could be deleted/ordered with option 261 omission of the displacement figure on the trunk lid at extra cost for those who wanted to avoid attention either from drivers of other high-performance cars or from law enforcement. In the words of David E. Davis, the 6.9 was "a $50,000 exercise in going fast."

Still, for fans of the discontinued 6.3 or for those who simply had to have a car which Car and Driver proclaimed to be "the greatest Mercedes-Benz ever built," it seemed that money was no object. At its launch in 1975, the 450SEL 6.9 cost DM 69,930. In the last year of production, 1979, the car was available at a price of DM 81,247. Even though this was far from inexpensive, the courage of the Mercedes-Benz strategists in launching the car onto the market paid off. A total of 7,380 units were built by 1980, and most of these were exported to the USA. This volume figure looks rather small at first glance, but production figures tend to be significantly smaller in the top luxury segment where this model competes. Also, the 6.9 was not the only S-Class model, and was purchased by the rich, the famous, and the powerful despite the rising cost of gasoline brought on by the Arab oil embargo. Thus, the 7,380 total sales volume is quite respectable once the price and contemporary economic climate are taken into account.

The 6.9 today

In a poll conducted by Britain's Classic & Sports Car magazine and printed in their April 1999 edition, the Mercedes-Benz 6.9 ranked fourth on their list of the "world's greatest saloons." The May 2004 edition of another British publication, Mercedes Enthusiast magazine, ranked the 6.9 number fifteen on their all-time top twenty list of great Mercedes-Benz automobiles. Even with such accolades, a 6.9 is a reasonably priced collectible automobile despite its rarity. The online NADA Used Car Guide lists a top value of US$20,000. At present, the market for cars of this type is somewhat soft, and a prime example can be had for considerably less. Given the car's exotic engineering and the traditionally high cost of some Mercedes-Benz parts, certain parts unique to the 6.9 can be extremely rare and expensive.

Notable versions

  • There were never any plans to build a station wagon version of the W116, 6.9 or otherwise, owing both to the location of the fuel tank ahead of the rear axle and the overwhelming demand for the sedan versions. Still, a number of W116s were converted to station wagons by coach builders in Germany and England. In 1977, a German diplomat named Manfred Sittmann commissioned Brinkmann Karosserie in Bremen to build a 6.9 station wagon, or "estate car." Sittmann frequently travelled with two large dogs and a family entourage to Italy. German motorsports magazine Auto, Motor und Sport learned of the car and requested an interview with Mr Sittmann and a photo shoot as well. The magazine's feature would be titled "Die teuerste Hundehütte," or "The Most Expensive Doghouse." This one-off 6.9 currently sees regular use with its third owner, a Mercedes-Benz collector in Pennsylvania.
  • A collector in Idaho recently created a website promoting the sale of his own one-off 6.9. Nicknamed "Benz-El," the car has been converted from a four-door sedan into a two-door pickup truck or ute with the use of rear sheetmetal and glass from a 1978-1987 Chevrolet El Camino.

6.9 in popular culture

  • Dennis Adler, reporting in the March/April 1990 edition of The Star, which is the official publication of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, related an amusing story about an impromptu race on Los Angeles' Hollywood Freeway between the first grey market 6.9 imported to the US and the unsuspecting young driver of a 1968 Pontiac GTO. The story is available at the website of the International M-100 Group (see below).
  • Filmmaker Claude Lelouch used a 6.9 in the filming of his infamous short film C'était un rendez-vous in 1976. The film shows an 8-minute drive through Paris in the morning hours, accompanied by sounds of a high-revving engine and squealing tyres added in post-production. It starts in a tunnel of the Paris Périphérique, with an onboard view from a car exiting up on a ramp to Avenue Foch. The driver frightens unwitting pedestrians, scatters birds, runs stoplights at high speed, goes the wrong way down one-way streets, and crosses center lines. The car is never seen, as the camera was attached at the front bumper
  • Director John Frankenheimer, a fan of the car, used a 6.9 in a chase scene in his 1998 motion picture thriller, Ronin
  • Although billed as a Mercedes 600 Pullman in the David Lynch feature Lost Highway, the car driven by Mr. Eddy (Robert Loggia) was in fact a 6.9
  • With its reserves of power, the 6.9 was a natural for conversion into an armoured car. One such version that had been owned by the Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the then Shah of Iran; it was later put up for auction in New York City
  • the F1 racing driver James Hunt owned two of the 287 cars imported in to the UK
  • Claude Francois, French singer and original compositor of "My Way" drove a 450 SEL 6.9 from November 1976 till March 1978. He was attacked in this car in 1977, and several bullet holes were found in various areas of the car. He escaped by luck but also because of his ability to drive this car to its full performance level.
  • In an unprecedented coup, the Greek-American actor Telly Savalas negotiated a 6.9 and 450 SL in exchange for 2 days of promotional work for a German company


Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9
Manufacturer Daimler-Benz AG
Class Five-passenger, four-door luxury sedan
Body Styles Four-door sedan
Predecessor 300SEL 6.3
Successor None
Shares components with Mercedes-Benz 600, Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3, other Mercedes-Benz W116 sedans
Wheelbase: 116.5 in 2960 mm
Front track 59.9 in 1521 mm
Rear track 59.3 in 1505 mm
Overall length: 210 in 5335 mm
Curb weight: 4390 lb 1985 kg
Fuel tank capacity 25.3 US gal 95 L
Trunk (boot) capacity 18.2 ft³ 0.52 m³
Battery capacity 12 V, 88 A·h
Steering wheel turns 2.7 lock-to-lock
Turning circle 40 ft 12.1 m
Head Room - Front 38.6 in 980 mm
Leg Room - Front 41.7 in 1060 mm
Hip Room - Front 57.5 in 1460 mm
Shoulder Room - Front 55.1 in 1400 mm
Head Room - Rear 37.1 in 942 mm
Leg Room - Rear 38.1 in 967 mm
Hip Room - Rear 59.5 in 1510 mm
Shoulder Room - Rear 54.9 in 1394 mm
Engine V-8, Bosch fuel injection, electronic ignition, two single overhead camshafts, five main bearings
Net power @4250 rpm
286 PS 210 kW
Net torque @3000 rpm
405 lbf·ft 549 Nm
Net power @4000 rpm
(North America)
250 hp 186 kW
Net torque @2500 rpm
(North America):
360 lbf·ft 488 Nm
Compression ratio
Compression ratio
(North America)
Bore/stroke 4.21 × 3.74 in 107 × 95 mm
Displacement 417.1 in³ 6834 cm³
Maximum engine speed 5300 rpm
Transmission: Three-speed automatic with torque converter
Rear axle ratio 2.65:1
Tires and wheels Michelin XWX 215/70VR14 steel-belted radial; 6.5Jx14 light alloy
Braking system Dual-circuit, power-assisted hydraulic, four-wheel disc brakes. Front discs ventilated.
Total swept brake area 456.5 in² 2945 cm²
0-60 mph (0-100 km/h) 7.5 seconds
Top speed (World) 225 km/h (139.8 mph)
Production World North America
1975 474 0
1976 1475 0
1977 1798 462
1978 1665 437
1979 1839 576
1980 129 317
1981 4 0
Total 7380 1816

>>Mercedes 35 hp

Mercedes 35 hp

Mercedes 35 HP
1914 DMG Mercedes 35 hp racing car
Manufacturer Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft
Predecessor Phoenix
Successor Mercedes 40hp
Engine(s) 5918 cm³ Straight-4
35 hp (950 rpm)
Transmission(s) 4-forward/1-reverse
Wheelbase 2.345 m
Width 1.345 m
Curb weight 1,200 kg

The Mercedes 35 hp was a radical early car model designed in 1901 by Wilhelm Maybach and Paul Daimler, for Emil Jellinek. Produced in Stuttgart, Germany by the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG), it began the Mercedes line of cars which was the predecessor of the Mercedes-Benz automobiles of the Daimler-Benz (since 1926), the company which merged again in 1998 to become the DaimlerChrysler.

Unlike the previous generation of automobiles, which were modified stagecoaches, the Mercedes 35 hp is regarded nowadays as the first car like the modern ones [1]: it bore a powerful petrol engine, it was both wider and larger with a tailored steel chassis, and its center of gravity was near the ground. Originally designed as a racing car, the Mercedes 35 hp was also made for normal road use.


Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG)

DMG was a car company based in Cannstatt, Stuttgart, as the expansion of a previous company which was owned and run by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, who had also revolutionized the motor world by introducing the petrol engine and patenting many other things. DMG built automobiles using the Daimler and Maybach's DMG-Phoenix engine of 8 hp with 4 cylinders, first built in 1894, which had also been successfully used in many of the early European car races.

Wilhelm Maybach

In the 19th century, Wilhelm Maybach's career as an industrial designer had been with Gottlieb Daimler in their Cannstatt workshop, at which together they had pioneered the petrol engine production and were responsible for designing and making some of the world's first automobiles. By 1900, Maybach was the Chief Engineer within the DMG, which had been originated from their workshop, although never he got along with the new capitalist board. Also in 1900, Gottlieb Daimler died and his son Paul had taken his place beside Maybach.

Emil Jellinek

Emil Jellinek was a wealthy Austrian businessman and Austro-Hungarian diplomat living in Nice on the French Riviera. His ten year old daughter was named Mercedes, from the Spanish word meaning mercy, given to her to commemorate her French mother's Sepharadi family background. Jellinek used to name his possessions after her, such as his mansions, the automobiles he sold, his racing car team, etc. He himself was often known as Monsieur Mercedes.


Mercedes 35 hp (1901)

Overall stability at high speeds: Large wheelbase. Wide track. Low center of gravity (lower engine).
75 km/h (45 mph). 35 hp (950 rpm). Engine speed 300 to 1000 rpm.
Light high performance engine: 4 In Line cylinders. Bore/stroke ratio: 116x140 mm. Displacement: 5918 cc. Cylinder heads part of the castings. Two carburetors, one for each cylinder-pair. Driver-controlled intake-valves's throttling. Two camshafts.
Low-voltage magneto ignition.
Aluminium crankcase (pioneer), horizontally divided.
4-forward/1-reverse transmission.
Lower weight : Press steel framework. Lightweight metals. Trimmed amount of frames.
Honeycomb radiator.
Comfortable wheel-drive.

As an avid fan of the DMG brand, Jellinek had signed up two DMG-Phoenix, the predecessor of the Mercedes 35 hp, for competing in the 1900 Nice-La Turbie race (March 30), introducing the Mercedes name then, after his own daughter, for both his racing team and its cars. A tragedy ensued when the chief mechanic of the DMG, Wilhelm Bauer who raced one of the cars, was killed after the first curve of the race. Consequently, the DMG canceled all further involvement in motorsport.

Nonetheless, Jellinek persuaded the DMG for the design of a new model for competing again. 36 of these cars would be delivered, for the large sum of 500,000 goldmarks. He insisted that the powerful engine should be developed by both Maybach and Paul Daimler and be named Daimler-Mercedes, after his daughter. Such renaming was granted because the Daimler brand of the DMG had been already conceded to the French Panhard carmaker for all France. Furthermore, Jellinek specified revolutionary improvements. Unlike the previous generation of cars, unstable motorized coaches of narrow high bodies which were so prone to overturn, the novel Mercedes should be longer, wider, and of a lower center of gravity. Also it would have a light steel body and strong chassis, onto which the engine would be firmly fixed near the ground and lowering the car's center of gravity.

In 1900, over the following months Jellinek oversaw the process closely at first through daily telegrams and traveling personally subsequently. Maybach tested the new car for the first time on November 22 and Jellinek received his first delivery on December 22, 1900.

Further Development

In January 1901, Emil Jellinek's Mercedes team tested six of the new Mercedes 35 hp in the Grand Prix de Pau, but the racecar was of a disappointing performance by multiple technical complications and enduring just for few laps. However in the Nice-La Turbie event of March 1901, it was much different. Jellinek participated through five Mercedes 35 hp and the German driver Wilhelm Werner. The cars dominated the race from start to finish with a record average speed of 51.4 km/h (30 mph), beating the previous 31.3 km/h (20 mph) and reaching top speeds of 86 km/h (55 mph). Those results easily outclassed all other competing cars in any capacity. The automotive world was so astonished that Paul Meyan, director of the French Automobile Club, stated: "We have entered the Mercedes era".

In Stuttgart, DMG mounted two additional back seats on the Mercedes-35hp, transforming it for a family car. Between March and August 1901, it manufactured two more Mercedes models, the 12/16 hp and the 8/11 hp. The Mercedes was so successful that the production lines of the DMG ran at full capacity. The Mercedes trademark was used on DMG production automobiles from June 23, 1902, to 1926. It was formally registered on September 26, 1902.

In June 1903, Emil Jellinek changed his own name to Jellinek-Mercedes, stating: "This is probably the first time that a father has taken his daughter's name".

Often confused with this Mercedes automobile brand are the cars of the Daimler-Benz company, formed in a 1926 merger of DMG and Karl Benz's Benz & Cie., which were called by a new brand name, Mercedes-Benz, regardless of in which plant they were produced after the merger. A commitment was made for the two companies to remain together until 2000. Mercedes-Benz has endured as one of the world's great brands and is now the property of DaimlerChrysler. Over nineteen million automobiles have been sold using that brand name. In 2007 it was announced that the Chrysler portion of the corporation was up for sale.

Technical description


The Mercedes 35 hp had a wheelbase of 2.345 metres and a track of 1.400 metres. Its wooden wheels were all the same size.

The total weight was also dramatically reduced to 1,200 kg by making the main chassis frame of pressed steel of carefully designed U-shaped cross section.

The relatively light engine (230 kg, 34.3 kilograms/hp) was mounted over the front axle without any extra sub frames and, so, its center of gravity was closer to the ground.


The wooden wheels of the Mercedes 35 hp were non-removable, featuring:

  • 12 spokes
  • steel covers
  • nearly identical pneumatic tires of 910x90-front / 1020x120-rear

There were two braking systems one hand operated and the other by foot.

  • The main brake was the hand brake which acted on the rear wheels which had 30 centimeter drums.
  • The secondary, foot brake, acted on the chain drive's intermediate shaft and was water-cooled.

Both axles were rigid, equipped with semi-elliptic springs. The steering-axles were designed to minimise transmission of road shocks to the driver.

The steering column was inclined backwards unlike the vertical shaft on many of its contemporaries.

Drive system

The engine of the Mercedes 35 hp was at the front of the car driving the rear wheels through a large roller chain.

The gearshift was at the driver's right side, featuring a gate change system with four forward speeds and a reverse gear. The drum like compact clutch system was attached to the flywheel.

The flywheel consisted of a self-adjustable coil spring made up of wound spring steel. The tension at which the clutch operated was regulated by a conical cam.


The main bearings were made of magnalium, an aluminium alloy with 5% of magnesium. The crankcase was also made of aluminium.

The four cylinders, cast in grey iron with fixed heads, gave a total displacement of 5,918 cc (bore/stroke: 116x140 mm), and were arranged in pairs each pair with a single spray-nozzle carburetor.

The intake and exhaust valves were no longer opened by cylinder pressure but by camshafts at both sides of the engine driven by gears from the flywheel.

The engine also incorporated:

  • low-voltage magneto with make and break spark ignition. This was fitted at Jellinek's demand, replacing the antiquated hot tube system.
  • pumped water cooling system
  • fan behind the radiator

The engine was started by a hand crank aided by the presence of a decompressor.

Maybach's tubular radiator, patented in 1897, known as a honeycomb radiator, was similar to the present time ones. Its rectangular grille had 8,070 pipes of 6x6 mm each with a square cross section to improve airflow, and holding 9 litres of water. The airflow was assisted by a fan located behind the radiator.

The Mercedes 35 hp engine ran between 300 and 1000 rpm, the speed controlled by the driver using a lever on the steering wheel. Its peak output was 35 hp at 950 rpm.

The road car's average speed was 70-75 km/h (45 mph). The racing version achieved 85 km/h (50 mph).

>>Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR

Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR was a sports racing car in 1955.

Technical Highlights

Despite a misleading name, the Mercedes-Benz 300SLR was based neither on the famous 1954 300SL road car, nor the earlier 1952 race car, although it bears a strong resemblance to both (including, in the coupe version, the distinctive 'gullwing doors'). Instead, it was based on the 1954-1955 Formula 1 Mercedes-Benz W196 race car; it was Mercedes' marketing department, who found 'W196S' an uninspiring name, who ordered the name '300SLR'. It is generally accepted that this name references the car's lightweight construction as 'Sport Leicht Rennen'.

The car was of a front-mid-engined design (where the engine block is squarely behind the front axles), to give more neutral front/rear weight distribution. It used a spaceframe chassis and magnesium-alloy (Elektron) bodywork, which has a specific gravity of just 1.8 (for reference, the S.G. of iron is 7.8), both of which contributed to a dry weight of just 880kg. The preceding Formula 1 car's 8 cylinders in-line engine was used, increased in capacity from 2,496.87 cc (76.0 x 68.8 mm) to 2,981.70 cc (78.0 x 78.0 mm). This boosted output from 290 bhp at 8,500 rpm to about 310 horsepower at 7,400 rpm, depending on the intake manifold; maximum torque of 234 lb.-ft. came at 5,950 rpm (193.9 psi bmep), providing strong pulling power. The engine was longitudinally mounted, and was canted over at a 33-degree angle to lower its profile for aerodynamic reasons, resulting in the distinctive bonnet bulge on the passenger side of the car. The engine was also unusual in that it used desmodromic valve actuation instead of springs. Fuel injection was still a novelty then. The engine protruded some way back into cockpit, forcing the monoposto version drivers to straddle the driveshaft and clutch bellhousing with his feet to reach the pedals. To reduce crank flexing, power takeoff from the engine was at the center of the engine, via a gear, rather than at the end of the crankshaft. This was not the only oddity of the drivetrain - the car was fitted with vast inboard drum brakes which dwarfed the car's 16"-wheels; the unusual shaft-linked brakes were originally to have been part of a planned four-wheel-drive system which never came to fruition. The rear independent suspension used a low roll centre swing axle system, where a beam attached to each hub was mounted on the opposite side of the chassis. Thus, the beams were aligned slightly differently and crossed over in the centre line. Cornering forces did not jack the car up, as occurs with short swing axles.

The car's fuel itself was also odd - a high-octane fuel mixture of 65 percent low-lead gasoline and 35 percent benzene; in some races, alcohol was also used to further increase performance. As a rule, the car left the starting line with 44 gallons of fuel and more than nine gallons of oil on board, although Moss and Jenkinson began their assault on the 1955 Mille Miglia with as much as 70 gallons of fuel in the tank.

At Le Mans in 1955, the 300 SLRs were also equipped with "air brakes" similar in principle to those used on aircraft - this was a large hood that hinged up behind the occupants in order to slow down the cars at the end of the fast straights. The idea for this "wind brake" came from director of motorsports Alfred Neubauer, who was looking to develop a system to reduce the wear on the huge drum brakes and tires during long-distance races such as Le Mans and Reims. Neubauer foresaw wind resistance slow the car especially at Le Mans, as the French track's layout forced drivers to use the brakes hard and often to bring the car down from its maximum speed - around 180mph - to as little as 25mph. In tests the 7.5ft² light-alloy spoiler slowed the car dramatically and improved cornering. In addition, this innovation was required as the car's traditional drum brakes were inferior to the new disc brakes of main rival Jaguar.

The SLR also had two seats, as required for sports racing cars of the day. In some racing events a co-driver, mechanic or navigator was given a ride. In the 300SLR's short career, this was only the Mille Miglia, as the 1955 Carrera Panamericana was cancelled due to the Le Mans accident. On short circuits (this includes the Targa Florio) passengers were not helpful, thus the passenger seat was covered and the passenger windshield removed to improve aerodynamics.

Nine W196S chassis were built.

Triumph and tragedy

Stirling Moss drives his Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR to win the May 1955 Mille Miglia race

Stirling Moss won the 1955 Mille Miglia in a 300 SLR with an average speed of 157.65 km/h over 1,600 km (97.96 mph in 994 miles). He was assisted by his co-driver Denis Jenkinson, a British motor-racing journalist, who informed him with previously taken notes, ancestors to the pacenotes used in modern rallying.

The 300 SLRs later scored additional victories in Germany, Sweden, Ireland and at the Targa Florio in Sicily, and won the world championship for sports cars in the constructors' ranking.

However, these impressive victories were overshadowed when the 300 SLRs, leading the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans, were withdrawn after the horrific accident involving the car driven by Pierre Levegh. 82 spectators, and one competitor - Levegh - lost their lives in what remains the highest-fatality accident in the history of motorsport. Aspects of the accident were directly related to the SLR's unusual design - even with the innovative air-brake, the drum brakes were not effective enough to stop Levegh ploughing into the back of an Austin-Healey, causing the car to become airborne. Worse, the ultra-lightweight Elektron bodywork's high magnesium content caused it to ignite in the ensuing fuel fire, causing significant injury and loss of life amongst spectators. Following this tragedy, Mercedes withdrew from competitive motorsport until the mid-1980s.

Uhlenhaut Coupé

Of the nine W196s chassis built, one was destroyed in the Le Mans disaster. Of the eight that remained (and prior to the accident) Mercedes motorsport chief Rudolf Uhlenhaut had ordered two to be set aside for modification into a sort of hybrid between the SLR and the SL, featuring a slightly widened version of the SLR's chassis with enclosed bodywork for aerodynamic purposes. Again, the strong, high sill beams of the spaceframe required the fitment of the same famous 'gull-wing' top-hinged doors of the other two types. For testing, and in preparation for a possible Mercedes participation in the 1956 race season, two road-legal SLRs were built. After the disaster, and Mercedes' planned withdrawal from competitive motorsport at the end of 1955, the programme was abandoned, leaving Uhlenhaut to use one of the cars as a company car. This prolonged road use required the fitting of an extra suitcase-sized muffler to the near-unsilenced exhaust pipes to avoid arrest for breach of the peace.

This Uhlenhaut Coupé was regarded as the world's fastest car in the 1950s, and it is rumoured that, running late for a meeting, Uhlenhaut exploited the unlimited autobahns to make todays' two-and-a-half-hour journey from Munich to Stuttgart in just over an hour. The Uhlenhaut Coupe was road tested by the US magazine Motor Trend and by two English journalists from Automobile Revue at four o'clock in the morning on a closed section of motorway outside Munich. The latter wrote; "We are driving a car which barely takes a second to overtake the rest of the traffic and for which 120 mph on a quiet motorway is little more than walking pace. With its unflappable handling through corners, it treats the laws of centrifugal force with apparent disdain," after a total of more than 2,000 miles (3,200 km). His only regret was that this was a sports car "which we will never be able to buy and which the average driver would never buy anyway.".

However, despite this, the title of "world's fastest car" is disputed by those who believe the 340 hp 5.0 L V12 engine of the Ferrari 410 Superamerica could have pushed that Ferrari to a higher top speed than the 170 mph (270 km/h) of the 1964 500 Superfast.

>>Mercedes-Benz 300SL

Mercedes-Benz 300SL

Mercedes-Benz 300SL
Manufacturer Mercedes-Benz
Parent company Daimler-Benz AG
Production 1952-1953 (racing car)
1955-1963 (production car)
3,258 built
Coupé: 1,400
Roadster: 1,858
Predecessor none
Successor production car:
Mercedes-Benz 230SL
racing car:
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR
Class sports car
Body style(s) 2 door coupé, roadster
Layout FR layout
Platform Mercedes-Benz W198
Engine(s) Mercedes 2995 cc, SOHC
Transmission(s) 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 2400 mm (94.5 in)
Length 4520 mm (178 in)
Width 1790 mm (70.5 in)
Height 1300 mm (51.1 in)
Curb weight 1093 kg (2351 lb)
Related Mercedes-Benz 190SL

The Mercedes-Benz 300SL was introduced in 1954 as a two-seat, closed sports car with characteristic gull-wing doors. Later it was offered as an open roadster.

Built by Daimler-Benz AG and internally numbered W198, the fuel-injected road version was based (somewhat loosely) on the company's highly successful competition-only sports car of 1952, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL (W194) which had less power, as it still had carburetors.

The road model was suggested by Max Hoffman. Because it was intended for customers whose preferences were reported to Hoffman by dealers he supplied in the booming, post-war American market, it was introduced at the 1954 New York Auto Show—unlike previous models introduced at either the Frankfurt or Geneva shows. The 300SL was best known for both its distinctive gullwing or butterfly wing doors and for being the first-ever gasoline-powered car equipped with fuel injection directly into the combustion chamber. The gullwing version was available from March 1955 to 1957. In Mercedes-Benz fashion, the "300" referred to the engine's cylinder displacement, in this case, three liters. The "SL", as applied to a roadster, stood for "Sport Leicht" or "Sport Light."

More widely produced (25,881 units) and starting in 1954 was the similar-looking 190SL with a 105 hp (78 kW) 4cyl engine, available only as roadster (or with an additional hardtop, as Coupe Roadster). The 190SL, based on a shortened 180 saloon floorpan, was equivalent to today's SLK in its market positioning when compared to the SL. Production for both the 190SL and 300SL ended in 1963 when the 230SL was introduced.

A race car for the street

The gullwing doors, hinged at the roof and so named because the open doors resembled a bird's outstretched wings, were implemented as such to accommodate for the car's tubular chassis, designed by DBAG's chief developing engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut. Part of the chassis passed through what would be the lower half of a standard door.

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe from the Ralph Lauren collection

This tubular chassis was a necessity, as the original car was designed solely for racing and needed to be as light as possible due to the rather underpowered original, carbureted, engine, while still providing a high level of strength. This required the driver and any passengers to do some gymnastics to get in or out of the car, usually by sitting on and sliding across the wide door sill, which was kind of challenging for ladies wearing a skirt. A steering wheel with a tilt-away column made the process considerably easier became known as the "fat man's steering wheel".

It was Max Hoffman, Daimler-Benz's official importer in the USA, who convinced DBAG management in Stuttgart that a street version of the 300SL would be a commercial success, especially in the US. Hoffman's prediction was correct since more than 80% of the vehicle's total production of approximately 1400 units were sold in the US, making the Gullwing the first Mercedes-Benz which sold in bulk outside its home market. The 300SL is credited for changing the company's image in America from a manufacturer of solid, but staid, automobiles to that of a producer of sporty cars.

The body was mainly steel, except for the aluminium bonnet (hood), doors and boot (trunk) lid. The 300SL could also be ordered with an all-aluminium outer skin, saving 80 kg (176 lb), but at tremendous added cost.

First with fuel injection

1956 "Gullwing" opened up.

The engine, canted at a fifty-degree angle to the left to allow for a lower hoodline, was the same 3.0 litre straight-6 as the regular four-door 300 but with a Bosch mechanical direct fuel injection system that almost doubled its original power of 86 kW (115 hp) in the original carbureted trim. This new injection system was a first in any gasoline-powered car - apart from the rather small Gutbrod where the Mercedes engineers, who had developed the principle for the DB 601 fighter aircraft engine, had to work after the war. It allowed a top speed of up to 260 km/h (161 mph) depending on gear ratio (several options were available) and drag (bumpers were optional, and race tyres fitted for tests), making the 300SL the fastest production car of its time. The maintenance requirements were high, unlike the current electrically powered fuel injection systems, the mechanical fuel pump would continue to inject gasoline into the engine during the interval between shutting off the ignition and the engine's coming to a stop; this gasoline was of course not burned, and washed the oil from the cylinder walls and ended up diluting the engine's lubricating oil, particularly if the engine was not driven hard enough nor long enough to reach a temperature high enough to evaporate it out of the oil.

1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster.

Exacerbating the problem were the large oil cooler as well as the large volume of oil (10 liters), both oriented more to racing than to street driving, which virtually guaranteed that the oil would not reach a high enough temperature. In practice, many street drivers would block off airflow through the oil cooler, and the recommended oil change interval was 1,000 miles (1,600 km). Operation of the clutch was very heavy, many drivers would have a sore lower back the next day. The later roadster had an improved clutch arm helper spring which reduced the pedal force and, from March of 1963, a light alloy crankcase (209 built) .

Aerodynamics played an important role in the car's speed. Mercedes-Benz engineers even went so far as to place horizontal "eyebrows" over the wheel openings. Given the car's overall styling, it has been suggested that the eyebrows were added to make the car more appealing to American buyers rather than to serve any functional purpose since American cars of the period were rather flamboyant by comparison to the 300SL. Unlike many cars of the 1950s, the steering was relatively precise and the four-wheel independent suspension allowed for a reasonably comfortable ride and markedly better overall handling. However, the rear swing axle, jointed only at the differential, not at the wheels themselves, could be treacherous at high speeds or on imperfect roads due to extreme changes in camber.

Racing history

Original racing history

Mercedes-Benz 300SL Transaxle, the 1953 prototype based on the W194 of 1952

In 1952, the original 300SL (model Mercedes-Benz W194) scored overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in Berne-Bremgarten, in the sportscar race of the Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring, and in Mexico's Carrera Panamericana. It also managed second and fourth places at its first outing, the Mille Miglia in 1952.

These successes, especially those on the high speed open road races, were rather surprising as the engine then was fitted only with carburetors, producing 175 hp (130 kW), which was not only less than the competing cars by Ferrari and Jaguar, but also less than the road car of 1954. Low weight and low aerodynamic drag made the 300SL fast enough to be competitive in endurance races.

Fitch land speed record attempt

In 2005, a 300SL coupe driven by 87 year old John Fitch, who had been a Mercedes-Benz factory racing driver in 1955, attempted to set a new land speed record for the F/GT class at Bonneville Speedway, but was thwarted by a balky fuel pump that limited top speed to 150 mph (240 km/h). After the run, the team vowed to return for a second attempt the next year. Fitch noted that he had driven these cars faster than that at night, in the rain, on the road with 60 other cars. The attempt is documented in the film Gullwing at Twilight: The Bonneville Ride of John Fitch, which was aired on PBS .

The 300SL today

Today, the 300SL with its unique doors, technological firsts, and low production numbers is considered one of the most collectible Mercedes-Benz models of all time, with prices reaching well past the US$400,000 mark. In addition, Sports Car International magazine ranked the 300SL as the number 5 sports car of all time.

The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is inspired by these 1950s automobiles.