Stuttgart. Since 1886, Mercedes-Benz has been reinventing the car time and again, thus also accompanying social change: the company’s history is rich in events and stories. Noted briefly here: important anniversaries and milestones from the chronicle of the world’s oldest luxury car manufacturer.
22 May 1932 – 90 years ago
Sensational streamline victory in the Avus race
- Manfred von Brauchitsch wins in the aerodynamically optimised Mercedes-Benz SSKL.
- Leading the way for racing car development in the Silver Arrow era
- Painstaking reconstruction by Mercedes-Benz Classic in 2019
What a triumph 90 years ago: Manfred von Brauchitsch wins the International Avus Race on 22 May 1932 in an aerodynamically optimised Mercedes-Benz SSKL against strong competition. Reinhard Freiherr von Koenig-Fachsenfeld develops the innovative streamlined body. The crowd initially scoffs at the unusual shape and calls it “cucumber”. After von Brauchitsch’s sensational victory in front of around 250,000 spectators, the car is celebrated all the more. In his live broadcast, radio reporter Paul Laven coins the term “Silver Arrow” for the racing car with its unpainted body, which is a real game-changer for racing car design. Three years ago, Mercedes-Benz Classic painstakingly reconstructed the unique specimen from 1932. The streamlined racing car makes its renewed driving début again at the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
23 to 27 May 1962 – 60 years ago
Year of rallying success for Eugen Böhringer and Mercedes-Benz starts in Greece
- Victory at the 10th International Acropolis Rally with a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE
- The rally driver born 100 years ago becomes European champion in 1962
- Successful on “Tail Fin” saloons and “Pagoda” SL
This is the beginning of the title of European Rally Champion 1962: Eugen Böhringer with his co-driver Peter Lang wins the 10th International Acropolis Rally 60 years ago in the near-production Mercedes-Benz 220 SE rally car (W 111). The competition is held in Greece from 23 to 27 May 1962. 1962 is the most successful season in Böhringer’s career, who was born 100 years ago on 22 January 1922. The chef and hotelier starts rallying as a works driver for Mercedes-Benz in 1960 and becomes European rally vice-champion as early as in 1961. In 1962, the year he wins the championship, Böhringer also wins the Rally Poland and probably the toughest of all rallies, the Liège–Sofia–Liège marathon. In addition, there are second places at the legendary Monte Carlo Rally and the Rally Germany. Böhringer ends his motorsport career in 1965.
2 June 1957 – 65 years ago
O’Shea’s first victory with the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLS
- Perfect triple in the American Sports Car Championship
- Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198)
- 430 kilograms lighter than the production version
Paul O’Shea is already a two-time American sports car champion with Mercedes-Benz when he competes for the first time in the new 300 SLS (“Super Light Sport”) on 2 June 1957 in Fort Worth, Texas. He promptly wins this début, and by the end of the season he has secured his third championship in a row. It is also the third title for Mercedes-Benz. In 1955 and 1956, O’Shea becomes champion of the popular racing series organised by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) on permanent racetracks and airfields with the 300 SL Coupé (“Gullwing”). The basis for the open-top competition car of 1957 was the 300 SL Roadster presented the same year. Compared with the standard version, the output of the SLS increases from 158 kW (215 hp) to 173 kW (235 hp), and the weight drops significantly from 1,330 kilograms to 900 kilograms.
9 June 1992 – 30 years ago
Open for classic driving fun
- Mercedes-Benz resumes the tradition of four-seater cabriolets
- Fifth body style variant of the successful 124 series
- Now eligible for the “H”-numberplate in Germany
Nothing but sky above: After the world premiere at the Paris Auto Show 1991, Mercedes-Benz in 1992 launches a fifth body style variant of the highly successful 124 series in the upper mid-range segment – a classic four-seater cabriolet with a fabric top. The technical basis is the coupé, but around 1,000 parts have been redesigned with a great deal of effort. After a hiatus of around 20 years, the 300 CE-24 Cabriolet (A 124) continues the tradition of four-seater Mercedes-Benz cabriolets, which combine comfort and space for four passengers with the luxurious flair of open-top motoring. When the brand reorganises the nomenclature of its passenger cars in 1993, the open-top four-seater becomes the first E-Class Cabriolet. Today, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet of the 238 series carries on this fascination.
13 June 1907 – 115 years ago
Fritz Erle wins the third Herkomer Competition with Benz 50 hp
- Long-distance drive with three classifications boosts enthusiasm for the then still young automobile
- Named after artist Hubert von Herkomer
- Daily practicality and reliability are in the foreground
Reliable, fast and beautiful: Fritz Erle from Mannheim wins the third and final Herkomer Competition 115 years ago, from 3 to 13 June 1907, with Edgar Ladenburg’s Benz 50 hp (7.4-litre four-cylinder engine, 37 kW/50 hp). This series of long-distance drives is initiated by Landsberg artist Professor Hubert von Herkomer: as an enthusiastic motorist, he offers a challenge trophy worth 10,000 marks for a competition for touring cars with four seats, wings, lights, rain cover and luggage compartment. There are three sub-classifications: a touring race with the six stages Dresden–Eisenach–Mannheim–Lindau–Munich–Augsburg–Frankfurt am Main, two speed tests and a beauty contest. Public interest in the Herkomer Competition is strong. As a result, the passion for the motor car, then still a quite recent development, grows across Germany and Europe.
- 75 years ago – Ron Dennis, born 1 June 1947
Team Principal of McLaren-Mercedes in Formula One from 1995 to 2007.
- 40 years ago – Jamie Green, born 14 June 1982
Mercedes-AMG racing driver in the DTM from 2005 to 2012, DTM runner-up in 2015.