2018: 90th Anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz SSK (1928-1932)



The SSK (model series W 06) is the most exclusive and fascinating of the six-cylinder supercharged sports cars belonging to the Mercedes-Benz S-Series. The model designation stands for Super Sport Kurz (super-sports-short in English), alluding to both the car’s particularly sporty character and its shortened wheelbase. The SSK was designed for maximum manoeuvrability, with a shorter wheelbase than the SS (2950 millimetres rather than 3400 millimetres), and a correspondingly shorter chassis.
The naming convention for the SSK typically has numbers associated with them, such as 700 and 710. This represents the engine capacity, 7.0 liter and 7.1 liter respectively.
The SSK has a seven-litre, six-cylinder engine, producing 140 hp without and 225 hp and later 250 hp with the compressor. The car could reach a top speed of almost 200 km/h. It was one of the most exciting and powerful sports cars of its time.
The final series was the SSKL. By drilling holes in the chassis, the weight of the vehicle was decreased even further, although weakened the frame causing many to break. The engine became more powerful, now producing 300 horsepower.
It was the last car that Ferdinand Porsche designed for Mercedes-Benz, before starting his own company. There was room for a driver and passenger, spare tires, and tools.
The bodywork was mostly handled by the factory but often outfitted by European and American coachbuilders. Only 33 Mercedes-Benz SSKs were ever built between 1928 and 1932 (including SSKL) with around half being factory-designated Rennwagens, or race cars.
In 1928 the Mercedes SSK was introduced and commonly referred to as 'The Mighty Mercedes'. It was also known as 'White Elephant'.
In the summer of 1928, works racing driver Rudolf Caracciola won the Gabelbach, Schauinsland and Mont Ventoux races in the brand-new SSK at the first attempt. In 1930 and 1931, he won the European Hillclimbing Championship at the wheel of the SSK. The lighter and yet more powerful version from 1931, which was also known as the SSKL, also scored some spectacular victories, one of the most outstanding being in the legendary Mille Miglia race: The arduous road race from Brescia to Rome and back was won by Rudolf Caracciola driving an SSKL in April 1931. He thus became the first non-Italian driver ever to win the race.
The SSK triumphed in many races, including the 1929 and 1930 Spanish Grands Prix, the 1931 Argentinian and German Grands Prix.

 

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