60 Years Ago Today, Mercedes-Benz Took Its Only Rallye Monte-Carlo Win
On 23 January 1960, Walter Schock, together with co-driver Rolf Moll, completed a near-2,000km drive from their starting point in Warsaw to the chequered flag in Monte Carlo to secure the first rally victory for Mercedes-Benz as a factory outfit. To further rubberstamp the performance of the silver arrows, the pair were followed home by German compatriots, and fellow Mercedes runners, Eugen Böhringer (with co-driver Hermann Socher) and Eberhard Mahle (Roland Ott), who’d also started in Warsaw.
It marked the first win for Schock on Rallye Monte-Carlo, an event at which he’d missed victory in a 220 ‘Ponton’ by just 1.1 seconds in 1956, the first headline win for Mercedes-Benz since its withdrawal from Grand Prix and sports car racing in the wake of the 1955 Le Mans disaster, and also marked the first time any manufacturer had ever finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd at the event. It was also a result that confirmed the unexpected excellence of the 220 SE as a rally weapon.
As a spacious luxury car, albeit a hefty one at 1,310kg, the near 16ft-long sedan was unquestionably robust compared with the more diminutive Sunbeam Rapier and Ford Zephyr that finished 4th and 6th respectively (the 220 SE also claimed 5th courtesy). It was also surprisingly quick, thanks to the 2,195cc six-cylinder bolted down under the bonnet and the four-speed manual gearbox it was mated to, a package capable of ‘over 170kph’ when at full chat. Strong double wishbone suspension and new drum brakes also ensured formidable road holding and stopping power, a must not just for the marathon across Europe but particularly Monte Carlo’s famous Col de Turini.
The Mercedes’ success didn’t end there either. Schock taking wins on the Polish, Sestrière and Acropolis rallies, plus 3rd place on the Tulpenrally, to comfortably secure his second European Rally Championship at the end of the year (his first since 1956).
*Images courtesy of Mercedes-Benz