1930 Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SS

1930 Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SS

In 1923 Ferdinand Porsche became chief engineer of Mercedes, taking over for Paul Daimler. Three years later the company merged with Benz to become known as Mercedes-Benz. A symbol was chosen for the combined products of Benz and DMB. The new emblem was a three-pointed star wreathed with laurel. The word 'Mercedes' was at the top and the word 'Benz' was at the bottom.

The SS continued a design that had been started in 1926 with the Mercedes 'K' series cars. Power was supplied by a Ferdinand Porsche designed 6.3-liter six-cylinder SOHC supercharged engine. The engine may have been powerful but the chassis was unforgiving. To solve those problems Mercedes introduced the 6.8-liter S series in 1926, featuring a lower chassis and the engine moved back to capitalize on better weight distribution. In 1928 the SS and SSK model were unveiled, both powered by a 7.1 liter engines producing 225 horsepower. The beautiful bodies were graceful and made possible by a hood line that cleared the engine only by inches. The bodywork was mostly handled by the factory but often outfitted by European and American coachbuilders such as Murphy. Production continued until 1934 with 173 examples being produced. The SS was reserved for the wealthy and exclusive clientele.

The SS and SSK represented two bodystyle options. The SS, meaning Super Sport, were 'touring' cars, usually outfitted with seating for four. The SSK, the 'K' representing 'Kurz' - German for short, were sports cars, generally two seaters that were short and light. 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 and SS were mechanically identical except the SS was 19 inches longer, the SS was suitable for traveling the road while the SSK were designed to be raced. Nearly half of all SSK's were actively raced and the legend they created was dominant.

With a top speed of nearly 105 mph, the SS Mercedes was the fastest sports car in the world at the time. The supercharger was unique in that it provided short boosts of power when the throttle was fully engaged by forcing air through the carburetors and into the combustion chambers. When the supercharger activated, it was described as having a high-pitched whine.

The final design of the series was the SSKL. With its 300 horsepower engine, it was as powerful as the competition. By drilling holes in the chassis, the weight of the vehicle was decreased even further, although weakened the frame causing many to break. This worked for a year but in 1932 Alfa Romeo's 8C 2300 proved to be quicker and more agile. During its production run, lasting from 1928 through 1932, between 31 and 35 examples of the SSKL models were built with around half being factory-designated Rennwagens, or race cars.

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