Total Production: 115 1928 - 1934
The Mercedes-Benz S-Type was based on the prior 400 and 630 models which had been given their names based on the displacement size of their engines. The 400 had a four-liter unit while the 630 was powered by a engine that displaced 6.3-liters. Both had six-cylinder supercharged engines with the supercharger only engaging when the driver pushed the peddle to the floor.
The 630, benefitting from improvements by Ferdinand Porsche, resulted in the 680 S. It was brought to the first race at Nurburgring where it emerged victorious. Larger engines soon followed, resulting in the 700 SS and the 710SS. Though they had been intended for road use, they were nearly identical to the SSK and SSKL racers. Their supercharged engines were capable of producing around 225 horsepower, which made them well suited to handle the drivers driving demands on the road or the track. Many of the cars were constructed of aluminum to help reduce the overall weight.
In 1928 the Mercedes SSK was introduced and commonly referred to as 'The Mighty Mercedes' and 'The Fastest Sports Car in the World'. The name SSK stands for Super Sport Kurz, German meaning short. 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. It used a modified version of the Ferdinand Porsche designed S-type chassis that, when compared with the S and SS models, was about 19 inches shorter. The K-Type was mechanically identical to the four-seat 'touring' car, the SS. The vehicle had been lowered and the engine moved back to capitalize on better weight distribution. The vehicle was powered by a variety of engines including the 7.1 liter supercharged engine that produced 225 horsepower, and later 250 horsepower. 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 such Murphy.
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 successfully campaigned in 1931 but a year later was unable to challenge modern vehicles like the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300.
During its production run, lasting from 1928 through 1932, between 31 and 35 examples were built with around half being factory-designated Rennwagens, or race cars.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007