I seem to have quite a few Mercedes in my collection. The next car, is the Mercedes Benz SSK. The model featured is a bBurago. The SSK was built and sold by Mercedes Benz from 1928 to 1932; I seem to be writing in the opposite chronological order moving from the 1950s to 1928. The predecessor of the SSK, the S was the first car to be introduced by Mercedes Benz after the merger between Daimler and Benz. The S was a car initially built for racing and aptly called the ‘Sport’. With time the engine in the S was bored out to increase its displacement and power for better performance at race circuits and also as a high end Grand Tourismo (GT) car. It was now aptly renamed the Super Sport or SS. But, though these cars were great for going fast and winning races on less winding roads/ circuits, they became quite a handful on tight roads. That is when Ferdinand Porsche, who had designed all the cars in the series cut the chassis of the S by 46 mm (18″). The short or “Kurz” chassis car was now called the SSK because it had the engine of the SS and the shortened chassis of the S.
These cars made a name on the racing circuits and hill climbs and were a huge marketing boost for Mercedes as they won races in every year they raced. These cars were also owned by celebrities thus adding more to the glamour quotient to sales of Mercedes. They won the following races:-
- 1927 – German Grand Prix
- 1928 – German Grand Prix
- 1929 – Tourist Trophy
- 1930 – Irish Grand Prix
- 1931 – German Grand Prix, Avus Race, Eifel Race, 100 hours in Spa, Mille Miglia and European Hill Climb
- 1932 – Avus Race and German Alpine Championship
Theses cars had the typical long bonnet and short body design. The engine in the SSK was pushed back 300 mm for better weight distribution and lowered for a better CG. Just before termination of production, an SSKL, ie, SSK “Leicht” or light was created. This feat was achieved by drilling holes in the chassis of the SSK to reduce the weight by 113 Kg (250 lbs).
Engine of the S/SS/SSK/SSKL was designed by Albert Hees. The SSK was powered by a 7,069 cc (432.3 Cu-in) inline six cylinder supercharged petrol engine. It had a roots supercharger which could be engaged by the driver when required. It could be thus used to provide short on demand bursts of power during hill climbs or engaged continuously when racing or travelling long distance. Each of the six cylinders breathed air through an intake and exhaust valve. This engine generated 197 BHP of power at 3,300 rpm. It also generated a very substantial 453 N-m (334 ft-lb) of torque at a lowly 1,920 rpm making it a very quick accelerating car. All the power and torque was transmitted to the rear wheels through either a four speed manual transmission. A four speed automatic was also available as an option.
This engine could push the 4,520 mm (167.3″) long, 1,700 mm (66.9″) wide and 1,725 mm (67.9″) tall car weighing 1,700 Kgs (3,748 lbs) to a top speed of 172 km/h (107 mph). In fact in the racing guise, with Caracciola at the wheels, this car recorded average speeds of 101.1 km/h (62.82 mph) over races covering 360 km (225 miles). During a sprint in Antwerp, Caracciola could achieve average speeds of 194.5 km/h (120.86 mph). The SSK was capable of 0 – 100 km/h in 11.6 seconds and we are talking 1928 here. 0 – 60 mph was achieved in 11 seconds. A quarter mile was dispensed off in 18.2 seconds achieving a speed of 126 km/h (78 mph) at end of the drag strip.
Hear the lovely engine.