Total Production: 267 1926 - 1932
Ferdinand Porsche designed the S-Type for Mercedes-Benz in 1927. The racer was constructed using pre-existing road version Mercedes vehicles, mainly the 400 and 630 models. The names of these vehicles came from their displacement size in liters. For example, the 400 had a four-liter engine while the 630 had a 6.3-liter engine, both were equipped with a supercharger and six-cylinders. The engine was one of the most appealing attributes of these vehicles. The drawbacks that robbed the vehicles of performance were its size, weight and basic suspension system. A cushy suspension and large size were ideal for luxury vehicles that carried the elite in society, but at the track, the vehicles were in need of more performance characteristics. An attempt was made to enhance the sporty nature of the 630 by shortening the wheelbase, which brought about the 'short' (Kurz) version. This drastically improved the vehicle's sporty appeal but more was needed to enhance the handling. Mercedes answer to this problem was the S-Type version which saw the chassis lowered and the engine moved back, improving the vehicle's balance. To improve its performance, the engine capacity was enlarged to 6.8 liters, thus birthing the 680 S.
The Nurburgring 1000 km race debuted in 1927. The track is challenging with it 172 turns and 25.6 km length. The track tests both the driver and the vehicle in all scenarios such as power, braking, and cornering. At the first Nurburgring race, it was the 680 S that emerged victoriously, a true testament to the vehicle's capabilities.
Future versions of the S-Type followed such as the 700 and 710 SS which saw horsepower ratings in the 225 range. Most were considered road-going cars but there was little to distinguish a car that was meant for the track and one that was meant for the road. Obviously, the vehicles fitted with luxurious coachwork never saw any track time but the roadsters, speedsters, and coupes (for example) could be used for dual purposes.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2010