Silent streams of super-power... unbounded flexibility ... comfort to carry you to the ends of the earth” — quoted period Mercedes-Benz advertising in America for the legendary Typ S The Typ S was created in a magical period for the company, shortly after the merger of Daimler and Benz, while Ferdinand Porsche was chief engineer.

He built a powerful yet versatile automobile — a true all-rounder, at home on the race track, at hillclimbs and providing exhilarating driving for the road.

The signature engineering feature was its on-demand Roots-type supercharger, which only came into operation when the accelerator was fully depressed, boosting power output from 120 to 180 brake horsepower for a few glorious seconds! Mercedes debuted the cars at the opening meeting of the Nürburgring in 1927, where Rudolf Caracciola set the tone with a class win. It would be the first of many laurels bestowed on the model. In the United States, Ralph de Palma drove a Typ S to victory in the 15- and 30-mile races at Atlantic City, averaging 80 mph. This “Car of Kings” was one of few that were delivered new to North America. It was originally commissioned on February 13, 1928, and was shipped to Berlin to be equipped with coachwork by Erdmann & Rossi — one of only a handful so bodied.

The new Typ S cars placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 1927 Eifelrennen, which was the first race at the Nürburgring. The Typ S cars ran away with the race, with driver Rudolph Caracciola taking the win.

Racing in the era was a bit different than what we experience today.

As described in Beverly Rae Kimes’ book, The Star and the Laurel, “Only race drivers could make repairs. Caracciola got out, pulled the first plug and tossed it to Porsche, who checked it with a magnifying glass and tossed it back: It was all right, as was the second, the third, the fourth … until the eighth turned out to be the bad one.”

Even with the lost time, Rudolph Caracciola went on to win the first Grand Prix of Germany.

The Typ S, for “sport,” was low to the ground, which greatly enhanced the handling and balance. Caracciola was almost unbeatable in the Typ S, and the international reputation of Mercedes-Benz was firmly entrenched.

Was the S a race car that could be used as a Grand Touring car or just the opposite? Well, as stated in Kimes’ book, “It was as close to a race car as could be built without actually building one.”

The car to have

The late 1920s was a unique period in our history, and those with wealth wanted to enjoy it. The Mercedes-Benz S, with its on-track success and powerful engine, provided an unparalleled grand touring experience for those who could afford it.

Sources vary as to how many of these magnificent machines were produced between 1927 and 1930, some mentioning 146 and others as many as 174. The chassis, with a price tag of more than $7,000, was sent to elite coachbuilders such as Saoutchik and Freestone and Webb — who performed their magic for clients that included European royalty, actors, pilots and race drivers.

The Berlin firm Erdmann & Rossi bodied our subject S. Erdmann & Rossi didn’t body many S cars.

The car was destined for the Mercedes-Benz Company in New York, and factory records indicate it was first acquired in January of 1929.

The trail then goes cold until it was discovered in the early 1960s in relatively unmolested condition. It later ended up in the hands of a noted Texas collector, who was responsible for its restoration. It appeared at the 1996 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it won First in Class and the Most Elegant Open Car award. These are very prestigious awards.

Today, the car’s 20-year-old restoration presents well, and the exterior exhaust, Carl Zeiss headlamps and Bosch horns are an imposing sight. Interestingly, it wears a single Mercedes-Benz badge in the center of the V of the grille, as was done on the SS models — rather than the three-pointed star on either side of the grille as was done with other Typ S cars.

The Typ S was the fastest car of the era, and it was the foundation for the famed SS and SSK cars that followed.

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