This year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will be graced by the presence of the legendary racing driver Sir Stirling Moss. To honor the event, Mercedes-Benz will join the event with two equally iconic models.
“We’ll be there with two original vehicles from 1955 – the 300 SLR, in which the now 85-year-old racing driver won that year’s Mille Miglia, and the successful W 196 R Formula One racing car. Another highlight of Pebble Beach will be a likewise original C 111 from our collection,” Michael Bock, Head of Mercedes-Benz Classic and Customer Centre, has revealed.
The highlight of the event is the Concours d’Elegance on the Sunday (16 August). Traditionally represented at the Concours, Mercedes-Benz Classic will be there with the aforementioned 300 SLR, the W 196 R and the C 111.
The 300 SLR (W 196 S) is the car which helped Mercedes-Benz win the 1955 World Sports Car Championship. Powered by a three-litre version of the 2.982cc eight-cylinder in-line engine it featured cylinder blocks made not from steel, but light alloy, offering in excess of 300 HP and a top speed of 300 km/h. The track record of this sports car remains unique: the W 196 S won every single race the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR entered and finished.
The Mercedes-Benz 2.5-litre racing car (W 196 R) with open wheels is the one used by the team in most Formula One races in 1954 and 1955 and the same car at whose wheel Juan Manuel Fangio won his second World Championship title with Mercedes-Benz. The W 196 R was reworked for its second season: the straight intake manifold, which allowed an increase in engine output to 213 kW (290 hp), and the additional dome on the left side of the bonnet became the outwardly distinctive features of the 1955 version of the vehicle.
Unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1969, the futuristic-looking C111 sports car was powered by a three-rotor Wankel engine with an output of 280 hp. With its extreme wedge shape and gullwing doors, the research vehicle had a glass-fibre-reinforced plastic body and reached a top speed of 270 km/h. Despite numerous orders, the C 111 remained an experimental vehicle and never went into series production. Instead, Mercedes-Benz went on to develop a series of record-breaking vehicles based on it: the C 111-II D (1976) and the C 111-III (1977-1978, both with a five-cylinder turbo diesel engine) and the C 111-IV (1979, V8 petrol engine with turbocharging).
On the Thursday (13 August), Sir Stirling Moss will open the field for the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198) – chauffeured by an equally famous racing driver: Jochen Mass. His greatest triumphs include victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1989 in a Sauber-Mercedes C 9 together with Manuel Reuter and Stanley Dickens. The C 111 will complete the Tour d’Elegance with Michael Bock at the wheel.
As far as the top prize of the Concours d’Elegance is concerned, Mercedes-Benz is again the competition’s favorite as it has been for years. The long list of “Best of Show” awards received under the Californian sun since 1950 includes several outright victories as well as more than 120 class victories and special prizes.