Slot Classic CJ-17

In the years after World War II there was considerable uncertainty about the regulations that would be adopted for the new F1. Finally, in 1952, some rules were agreed upon that would come into force in ’54.

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During this interval, in the Mercedes competition department the goal is to take part in competitions and winning sports car races, thus preparing the arrival of the future “silver arrows”.

This team, led by Professor Nallinger with the priceless help of Uhlenhaut and the legendary Neubauer, had the honor of developing the Mercedes 300 SL.

The mechanics came from the Mercedes 300, conveniently tuned to reach 177 horsepower. The engine was tilted 35 degrees to the left in order to reduce the height of the hood. The mechanical assembly was mounted on a multi-tubular steel chassis. This arrangement caused major problems with regards to the accessibility to the cabin, but they were solved by making the steering wheel removable and creating the famous “Seagull Wing” doors, which characterize the model that Slot Classic has reproduced this time.

On April 1, 1952, they were presented to the press. Alfred Neubauer already had chosen the drivers to drive them: Rudi Caracciola, Hermann Lang and Karl Kling.

Finally the first race arrived, which was none other than the legendary Mille Miglia, in which they had to compete against first-rate competitors. Above all there was the Ferrari team featuring Bracco, Tarufi, the Marzoto brothers, Castelloti and the veteran Biondetti, absolute record holder since 1938 and winner of the test on 4 occasions. In the end, Bracco’s Ferrari would win, but not before the Mercedes had offered fierce resistance. It is worth mentioning the fight between Lang and Tarufi (which would end with the abandonment of both) and the fight between Kling and Bracco, which in the end would be declined in favor of the Italian driver, with Kling occupying a brilliant second place in his Mercedes. Carraciola qualified in fourth position behind Fagioli’s Lancia.

In the following race, the Bern sports car grand prix, Carraciola suffered a serious accident, which led to his retirement from active competition.

For the 24h of Le Mans, three cars were presented with the following numbers:

Nº20 – Helfrich – Niedermayer
Nº21 – Lang – Riess
Nº22 – Kling – Klenk

Doing a conservative race without forcing the mechanics they managed to reach the 12th hour occupying second and third place behind Le Levengh’s Talbot. Only with one hour left, the Talbot’s engine breaks and from that moment on the Mercedes will have no rival and they won clearly, Lang and Riess qualifying first, breaking the race record of 96.66 mph that until then was held by Walter Witeheart’s Jaguar. For their part, Helfrich and Niedermayer qualified in second position, while Kling and Klenk had to abandon the ninth hour due to engine failure.

For the Panamericana race, Mercedes sent four cars to Mexico, two coupes and two spyders, for three teams. Kling and Lang chose the coupes and the American John Flitch, Mercedes’ latest signing, was the one who drove the Spyder.

As in Le Mans, Neubauer’s instructions were clear: have a cautious start and push as hard as possible halfway through the race.

The race was a fierce duel between the three Mercedes and Vittness’s Ferraris; Bracco and Chinetti. Two of the Ferraris would have to abandon and only Chinetti launched furious attacks that Lang knew how to control.

In the final classification, first place went to Kling, with second place going to Lang.

After this demonstration, Mercedes parked these magnificent automobiles in the Museum, dedicating all the potential of its competition department to F1, but they were the basis for the late 1954 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwings of 1954, a legendary automobile. which is today a highly coveted piece by collectors.


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