Meet The Gherkin, A Reconstructed Mercedes-Benz SSKL Special That’s Heading For Monterey
An array of famous Mercedes will be at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance later this month, with the line-up led by a reconstructed 1932 Mercedes-Benz SSKL streamlined race-winner being driven on public roads for the first time. The host of famous Mercedes racing cars on display will also include a dominant 300 SLR sportscar, a W154 racer, a 1989 Group C Sauber C9 sportscar and a 1994 Mercedes-powered Penske IndyCar.
The SSKL will be taken onto public roads on Thursday August 15 as part of the Californian classic car event’s Tour d’Elegance. This is an exclusive drive for classic cars which over five hours loops from Pebble Beach and includes some of the 17 Mile Drive coastal route along the Monterey peninsula. The SSKL will be joined on the Tour d’Elegance by an elegant Mercedes 320 N combination coupe, the W142, from 1938.
The SSKL is considered a prominent link’ in Mercedes racing history between the 1920s supercharged sportscars era and the legendary 1930s Silver Arrows, as well as is a key milestone in aerodynamic optimization being established in motorsport at the time. Aerodynamics pioneer Reinhard von Koenig-Fachsenfeld in 1932 designed a trailblazing and striking streamlined body for the SSKL, and it had an overwhelming effect, reducing drag by 25 per cent and increasing top speed by 12mph. In May that same year Manfred von Brauchitsch entered the SSKL in the international AVUS race and won, beating the previous year’s winner Rudolf Caracciola in an Alfa Romeo. Spectators dubbed the futuristic-looking SSKL the ‘gherkin’.
Mercedes-Benz Classic has reconstructed the SSKL to the highest level of authenticity, which included the SSKL-typical lightening holes in the chassis being constructed according to the original drawings. Historical documents and the expert-researched Mercedes archives were also used in its recreation.
Mercedes’ celebration of ‘125 Years of Motorsport’ honors the Paris-Rouen Trial, which took place on July 22 1894, and is considered the very first competitive mass-entry motorsport event. Mercedes marked this milestone at the recent Formula 1 German Grand Prix, where both its cars ran in special white livery in homage to the, almost certainly apocryphal, tale about how Mercedes’ traditional silver livery came into being.
Pebble Beach visitors will also on August 15 to 18 be able to view a vast range of famous Mercedes cars from across history in the ‘Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge’. This includes a Daimler two-cylinder V-engine which represents the beginning of motorsport as well as the 125th anniversary celebration, as cars equipped with this type of engine won the 1894 Paris to Rouen race. There also will be a Mercedes-Benz 3-litre W154 racing car from 1939, a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR sports car–the W196 S–from 1955, a Sauber-Mercedes C9 sports car from 1989 and the famous Group C era, as well as a Penske-Mercedes PC-23 IndyCar from 1994.
Also the Star Lounge’s ‘Origins’ exhibition area has an authentic replica of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen—representing the birth of the car in 1886. The Mercedes-Simplex 40 hp from 1903 is a representative from the family of the first modern cars in the world and as a high-performance vehicle of its time. At the other end of the brand’s historical expanse, the upcoming Mercedes-Benz EQC Edition 1886 symbolizes the marque’s future.
Images courtesy of Mercedes-Benz