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Old 04-12-2005, 08:54 PM
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Futuristic design concept

Perfection by tradition


The designers of the racing car transporter succeeded in achieving the impossible: they created a truly unique car in terms of both looks and technical perfection. And they provided the racing deparment with exactly what the latter needed: an incomparably fast vehicle for transporting racing cars.

The X-shaped tubular frame of the 300 S was extended at the front and rear to provide ample space for a Mercedes-Benz racing car on the load platform. The direct-injection SL engine was installed just above the front axle, as 'in real life'. A synchronized four-speed transmission with involute profiles and a Daimler-Benz single-plate dry clutch were both flanged to the engine. At the front, a double wishbone axle with coil springs and Fichtel & Sachs shock absorbers was installed, at the rear a swing axle with a hypoid crown wheel and pinion assembly, lowered and separate pivot points for the two axle carriers, coil springs, an additional torsion bar spring and also F & S shock absorbers. At 3050 millimeters, the wheel-base was impressively long.

Hydraulic drum brakes on all four wheels and a pneumatic brake booster from Bosch reliably decelerated the vehicle whose laden weight was just under 3000 kilograms.

Safety was further enhanced by a disc brake installed between propeller shaft and differential as well as by an exhaust brake - a new feature on a passenger car engine. The engine itself was very special: in view of the heavy-duty work lying ahead of it, the output of the original three-liter six-cylinder in-line engine from the 300 SL was reduced from 215 to 192 hp.

With this output and its high torque of 25.8 mkg at 4700/min, this engine easily gave the racing car transporter a top speed of 160 - 170 kilometers per hour - depending on what it was carrying on its back.

All of these components vanished underneath a sheet metal skin that served as an all-time memorial to the imagination, creativity, commitment and skills of the bodymakers. Experts realize immediately that the center section of the driver's cab - from the windshield to the rear edge of the door - was adopted from the 180 production model, only that everything was much wider. The front end, set at a steep angle and rounded, flowed into an SL-type coolant-air intake with a Mercedes star right in the center. The front end's rounded contours were delineated at the sides by rudimentary fenders, unmistakable features of the 180, with integrated headlights and fog lights, and at the front by a sweeping chrome bumper, with large bumper guards, wrapping around the corners of the cab.

The engineers succeeded in creating a technical masterpiece, a unique vehicle whose origins were easy to identify. No matter what you looked at, the bodywork, the engine or the frame, the racing car transporter was unmistakably a Mercedes. From roughly the upper seat edge level, the rear section of the cab bulged outwards towards the rear, to taper towards the center. Rear glass screens curved at two levels testified to the proud achievements of the glazing artists. The front end of an SLR or Formula One car fitted underneath this nose-like shape like a hand in a glove. Behind the cab mounted in a low position and ahead of the front axle, the transport section of this remarkable vehicle began - as avantgarde as everything else on this transporter. The frame, engine, radiator, axles and fuel tank all vanished under complete paneling. The front and rear fenders elegantly extended far towards the rear, enclosing the wheels in an aerodynamically efficient manner. With their flowing lines, they unobtrusively integrated the load and its carrier into an entity. The front and rear fenders were linked by inward-curving paneling flowing into the load platform. The recessed space between the axles accommodated a spare wheel on each side, fixed at an angle and quickly retrievable when required.

A very clever idea was integrated in that tripods were firmly mounted on the spare wheel hub caps. These elements served as supports for the U-shaped two-part access rails for the racing car which was strapped down by steel ropes on the load platform, its wheels resting in firmly installed upward-curving rails. The access rails were accommodated in a well secured position between the wheel recesses during transport.

The fully paneled rear end was reminiscent of the 300 SLR, indicating the vehicle's purpose from this perspective as well. The rear was, of course, also trimmed with a single-part chrome bumper since the vehicle's creators felt that their design was a passenger car more than anything else, albeit one for the special purpose of transporting a racing car.

So there it was, in mid-1954, being 6750 millimeters long, 2000 millimeters wide, just 1750 millimeters high: a dynamic appearance expressing power, wrapped in extravagant bodywork that was, of course, painted in Mercedes-Benz blue.

A vehicle with a "storming-ahead" appeal, ready to go and looking fast even when stationary. A retired member of staff remembers that "For us in the racing department, this vehicle was a blessing. We often had a few more hours to complete the setup or the last modifications on a racing car with greater care and less pressure. By the same token, a damaged or defective car was returned to us more quickly, giving us more time for repairs. After every race, the cars were dismantled and checked, defective parts were replaced, repaired or modified and adapted to the relevant driver".
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