The Mercedes-Benz 1955 Fast Car Transporter

Lately I have been reading a book by Peter Nygaard entitled “Juan Manual Fangio Photo Album”.  Obviously there are a number of photos in this book.  One that caught my interest was a 1955 photo of the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 team drivers.  This photo shows Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio, and Karl Kling beside a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.

The 1955 Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 Team Drivers: Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio, and Karl Kling

The thing that caught my eye in this picture is the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR on the transporter in the background on the left side of the photo.  I saw this unique transporter in 2011 during a visit to the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

The transporter was designed to be able to allow Mercedes-Benz to get their race cars back to the factory as quickly as possible following a race event to allow for any repairs after a race and then to get the cars quickly to the next event.

The Styling of the Mercedes-Benz Transporter Is Very “Sports-Car” Like

The notes in a Mercedes-Benz house document that I got during that visit to the museum state that one subtle purpose of this vehicle was to demoralize the racing opposition.  Mercedes-Benz wanted to show that if their transporter was fast, then imagine how fast the race cars must be!  Imagine being on the road and getting passed by this transporter doing about 100mph.

As you can see, the styling of the transporter draws heavily from the Mercedes-Benz sports cars of the 1950s.

Note The Words On The Rear Fender: “Max. Speed 105mph”

The engine in the transporter is a 3.0 litre straight 6-cylinder engine taken from a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, detuned for transport purposes to produced 192 horsepower at 5,500rpm.  The reported top speed of the Mercedes-Benz transporter was 105mph.  This was faster than many road cars of that era!

The Style of the Transporter’s Rear End Closely Resembles the Mercedes-Benz SLR

For some reason, Mercedes-Benz scrapped the original transporter in 1967.  As a result, the vehicle on display in the Mercedes-Benz Museum is a true-to-original replica.  In the photos, note the bolted turnbuckle-controled tie-downs!  The gap in the body panel behind the SLR’s cockpit on the transporter would indicate that this SLR has been fitted with the rising air brake.

I think that Mercedes-Benz got it right when they made a fast transporter appropriate for their racing cars of that era.

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