As a consequence of the world-wide economic crisis, Daimler-Benz, like all other automobile manufacturers in the late 1920s, also had to struggle for survival. Experience of past years had shown that in hard times like this technically ambitious cars with a high-prestigious value still had the best prospects on the market. As a consequence, it was decided to build absolutely sporty automobiles which were not only potential winners of races but also cars for everyday use. The owners should be able to establish a direct identification with the triumphs of successful racing champions.
The first of a number of models, which at the start were designed under the leadership of Ferdinand Porsche, was a shortened touring car with increased engine performance which was marked with the suffix “K“ for “shortened model“ (the German word for short is “kurz“). It was followed by the sports- and super-sportscars “S“ and “SS“, respectively, and finally by the “SSK“.
Between 1928 and 1931 the SSK was one of the most successeful German racing cars and generally one of the best sports cars worldwide. The unforgotten Rudolf Caracciola achieved innumerable triumphs with this model. In the Grand Prix of Germany race at the Nürburgring. in 1928 Mercedes were triple winners with Caracciola in front. In 1931 Mercedes, once more with Caracciola, succeeded for the first time in breaking the series of wins of the Italians in the Mille Miglia. That same year Mercedes retired from racing sport and did not return until 1934, then with new grand prix cars.
The “SSK“ of 1929 on exhibit in the Technik Museum Sinsheim (Germany) is still absolutely fit for use in racing competitions. In 1988, 1992, 1994 and 1996 it participated in the classic Mille Miglia competition. In two days and one night a distance of more than 1,600 kilometers was covered on the route from Brescia via Rimini to Rome. Without supercharger the 6-cylinder engine with 7 liters capacity has an output of a round 170 hp. A short-term performance of up to 225 hp is possible with supercharger. The top speed is above 200 km/h.