Mercedes spared no expense to recreate this 1932 SSKL

This is turning out to be quite the year for recreations of rare pre-war classic cars at Monterey Car Week. Yesterday we reported on the stunning “missing-link”  1939 Corniche that Bentley brought back into reality, and today Mercedes-Benz announced it will be displaying its own no-expense-spared reconstruction of the historic 1932 SSKL streamlined racer at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Not only that, but the car will also be driven on the road for the first time anywhere at the concours’ Tour d’Elegance, from Pebble Beach to Carmel-by-the-Sea and back, on Thursday, August 15th.

The SSKL is just one of the historic vehicles that the pioneering German automaker will be bringing to the Pebble Beach event to mark “125 Years of Motorsport” for Mercedes-Benz. A 1938 M-B 320 N detachable hardtop “combination coupe” will accompany the SSKL on the tour, and the company will also have a number of very significant vehicles on display at the concours itself in the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge.

At the M-B display will be an authentic replica of Karl & Bertha Benz’s 1886  Patent-Motorwagen, the three-wheeler generally considered to be the first practical automobile, a Mercedes-Simplex 40 hp made in 1903, and a 1932 Maybach DS 8 Cabriolet.

As for the competition side of the display, along with the SSKL, there will be an example of the Daimler two-cylinder V engine, which powered the winners of the first recorded car race, from Paris to Rouen, France in 1894, hence “125 Years of Motorsport.” Joining them will be the M-B W154 3-liter Formula car that raced in 1939, a 1955  W196s 300 SLR racer like Stirling Moss drove to Grand Prix victories, a Sauber-Mercedes C9 Group C sports racer from 1989, and the Penske-Mercedes PC-23 that completely dominated the 1994 Indy 500 from pole to pole.

Manfred von Brauchitsch winning the Avus race in 1932
Manfred von Brauchitsch winning the Avus race in 1932 Mercedes-Benz USA

When the streamlined SSKL, with a novel aluminum body designed by aerodynamics pioneer Reinhard von Koenig-Fachsenfeld, first appeared at the 1932 Avus race in Berlin, spectators called the odd-looking racer the “gherkin.” After Manfred von Brauchitsch at the wheel of the M-B racer beat the great Rudolf Caracciola in an Alfa Romeo at that event, it became known by the more complimentary “silver arrow.”

The Mercedes-Benz Classic division was entrusted with recreating the Silver Arrow to the highest level of authenticity. To accomplish that task, historical documents from both the M-B archives at Mercedes-Benz Classic as well as the Schloss Fachsenfeld historical foundation were consulted. Based on the SSK, the L most likely stands for “leicht” or lightweight, and those drawings were essential in precisely recreating the lightening holes in the racer’s chassis.

Again, you can see the recreated SSKL on the road for the first time at the Tour d’Elegance on August 15, 2019. The judged show at the 59th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance takes place on Sunday, August 18th.

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