The rarest Merc, produced by themselves: the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé
The 300SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé, my favourite Merc, and a Merc that no person on earth would own privately. Why? Only 2 have been built, and both have been placed in a museum. They do see the sun light every now-and-again though, the one parked in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart for instance sometimes visits the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The biggest incident in motorsport, which most of you have probably never heard of, the 1955 Le Mans incident, which claimed the lives of 83 spectators and one driver, Pierre Levegh, who drove for Mercedes in their works 300 SLR, is also the reason that this high-performance variant of the well known 300SL never became a production car.
Prior to the event, Mercedes Works Chief Rudolf Uhlenhaut ordered 2 of the 9 300SLRs to be brought back to the factory to be turned into a hybrid of the 300SL and the 300SLR, to experiment and as they hoped, later on turn into a production car, and thus, Uhlenhaut was left with 1 of the mules to use as a company car, with what they described as a “suitcase sized silencer”, to silence its loud bellows a bit, but as the car had very short exhaust pipes that exit just in front of the door it barely silenced the brute.
The car did however kick the Jaguar XK120 off its throne, despite not being produced publically. The Jag had a top-speed of just 120 mph (194 km/h), the Merc? It annihilated this record, with a top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h). The story has also been told of how Uhlenhaut was running late for a meeting and did the journey from München to Stuttgart in 1 hour, which is a 137 mile drive ( 220 km).
How did it achieve this? 5 years of difference in age, and instead of a 3.4-litre straight-6 delivering 160hp, a 3.0-litre straight-8 with 310 horsepower.
It’s too bad the incident that costed so many lives, had also costed the production of what is by far my favourite Merc, mixing the brutality and design of the 300SLR, with the comforts, usability and iconic gullwing doors of the 300SL.
Also, it’s been a while, but I have returned, 2 days from tomorrow there’ll be another post about my hero, Stirling Moss, as the 17th of September is his birthday. So I’m going to tell as much as I can about him. But for now, farewell to thee.