Designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, the SSK was Mercedes’ racing powerhouse from 1928 to 1932, winning a long list of significant victories, including the 1931 Mille Miglia in the hands of legendary driver Rudolf Caracciola. It also broke the pace record for the Mille Miglia at the time with an average speed of 62mph(101km/h). The SSK was seriously fast, in fact it was the fastest car of its time. Its top speed was 120mph (~190km/h), and the performance from its 7.1L straight 6 engine is still decently impressive by today’s standards. The key was its supercharger, which engaged via a clutch when full throttle was used. This design gave the power when it was needed (especially at higher altitudes, where air is thinner), but also helped keep the car reliable by not having the blower stressing the engine all the time. From what I’ve read, around 170hp was available before the supercharger engaged, and 225hp hit when the boost came on. I have also seen some reports of SSKs making as much as 300hp, so maybe in different specifications were used for different races. The car also had a massive amount of torque, with as much as 500ft/lbs available on those highest spec’d cars. Keep in mind, all of this performance is in a car with 1920′s technology, so tires, brakes, suspension, etc were all nowhere near the level of a normal modern car, and the SSK weighed nearly two tons. Racing back then took some serious bravery.
The SSK you see here was on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, during my trip to Europe last year. Regrettably, I don’t have too many details on this specific SSK because I was so focused on taking photos that day that I didn’t bother reading the signs. I do know there were only 30-35 SSks built, so it is very rare, and definitely worth a few million dollars.
I love looking at early racing cars because there is so much crude genius. All of the performance aspects of a modern car had to be developed, usually through trial and error, and driven by competitive spirit. The SSK was the pinnacle of automotive technology in the late 1920s, and it marks a significant moment in racing, as well as in the development of the automobile itself. Enjoy the pics.
BMW has always held a special place in my list of carmakers. After the end of WWII, they were in tatters, like the other German car companies. But, in the 1960s and 1970s, their commitment to making cars that could make the driver grin endlessly (for a price) gave them a reputation of being a bit of an upper middle class car guy’s hero, in that for the price of a Cadillac or a Mercedes sedan, you could get a car that was capable of brightening your melancholy day with just a squeeze of the gas pedal and a turn of the wheel. But that was nearly 40 years ago, and based on what I’m seeing in the news (and what I’ve driven in the past year or two), I’m skeptical of their old motto. Read the rest of this entry »
If one day a magical genie came up to me and said “I will give you any classic Ferrari you want”, my choice would be this 275 NART Spyder. Yes that’s right, I would rather have this car than the legendary 250 GTO or 250 Testa Rossa. Why, you ask? Because I happen to be more of a road car person. I like racing cars just fine, but for me, driving perfection is found with the wind in my hair, and the hum of a great engine bellowing off the trees as I cruise by. Going on a real world journey in a great car may be my favorite thing to do, and it is the sole reason this 275 NART Spyder was commissioned by Luigi Chinetti back in the 1960’s. Read the rest of this entry »
This is the single Bizzarrini 5300 S.I. Spyder Prototipo in existence. It was shown at the 1966 Geneva Auto Show, and marked the beginning of Bizzarrini S.p.A. The start of this new company came after Giotto Bizzarrini left another Italian carmaker, Iso, due to a feud with its owner, Renzo Rivolta. Bizzarrini had been putting his own badge on Iso’s A3C instead of the Iso badge, which angered Rivolta. After a legal battle, Bizzarrini won the rights to the A3C, and all of its production, so Giotto formed a company bearing his own name, and set out to create his own identity as a carmaker. The first thing he did was to rename the A3C as the 5300GT. He created the prototype Spyder you see above to display to the world, and Bizzarrini S.p.A. was born. I was fortunate enough to see this 5300 Spyder Prototipo first hand at the Concours d’ Elegance of America this past summer. It is an incredible car, one that stops you in your tracks, and demands to be taken in. Read on for the rest of the story. Read the rest of this entry »
Yes, the Prius. A different sort of car than we normally feature in this section, yet a car that has had a resounding impact on the automotive world in recent years. Everyone knows a Prius when they see one, and most people know that the car has become as much a political statement as a mode of transportation. Whether you buy into the whole Green movement or not, there is no denying that the Prius has been an incredible marketing success. It paved the way for an entirely new sort of car in the world, one that puts priority on efficiency and cleanliness over all else. We all know the car, but behind every car there is a story to tell. This is that story.
This is a great video showcasing two of the best roadsters in history. The Elan was the inspiration for the MX5 in a different era, and both cars have lessons to teach other carmakers today. This is pure driving and pure fun, the hell with 0-60 times and 1/4 mile runs. I can only hope that one day I get to drive a Lotus Elan like this, it is pretty high up there on my list. Enjoy the vid.
The 328 Buegelfalte Roadster is one of those legendary cars that is so coveted by modern collectors, that in 2010 it sold for $5.84 million at RM auctions in Monaco. Those who are unfamiliar with the car may believe it to be some highly successful vintage racecar, but actually it’s racing history was fairly mediocre. It is likely the car’s beauty and rarity, being the only one of its kind, that make it such a sought after machine. The Buegelfalte also has a rich story behind it as well, one that parallels that of 20th century Europe. I will tell you now that the car you see in these photos is actually a perfect replica of the Buegelfalte Roadster commissioned by BMW for use at corporate events. I took these photos during my recent visit to the factory museum. Even though the car is a replica it still has the same beautiful form as the original, which now resides in a private collection.
Found this cool.
There is a lot of bickering that goes on between car enthusiasts about cars of different regions, saying European cars are this, American cars can’t do that, Japanese cars are this, etc. With the advent of the Internet this bickering has only expanded and now people are arguing their views with folks all over the globe. While it is interesting to witness, there is a huge amount of ignorance and a lack of appreciation (on everyone’s part) for how different cars came to be the way they are. I am starting this mini series here to take a look at how the automobile developed in different parts of the world, and hopefully enlighten some of the very opinionated people out there so that they may at least respect cars from all regions and their purposes. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a mythical machine known to many enthusiasts. Anyone who has played Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport will recognize it as the most insane car that british manufacturer, TVR, ever built. It is the Cerbera Speed 12. People who know it, know of it’s insanity, but few know it’s actual story. We will try and set the record straight. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a really cool look into the past. You can really see where Subaru started to get big and what it lead to. Lots of racing successes there. (including the year my car was built, not to brag or anything)