Mecedes-Benz (Porsche) SSK

By1928 Ferdinand Porsche had already clocked up several notable successes. His early interest in technical matters led him to develop the first wheel driving electric hub motor, and then he ecreated what is probably the first petrol – electric hybrid car ever! In 1902 after being drafted into the into the Army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire his love of cars and all things mechanical got him a job as chauffeur to Emperor Franz Ferdinand himself; thankfully many years before that gentleman was assassinated.

In 1906 a Daimler subsidiary,Austro-Daimler, recruited him as their chief designer and he quickly rose up through the ranks to become managing director by 1916, only to resign in 1923 over disagreements about the future of car development at the company. He was quickly recruited by the firm of Daimler Moteren Gesselscaft and the last major task for him was to design the SSK. By then the company had merged with Benz; however Porsche and the new board of directors didn't see eye to eye over a lightweight car he wanted to design so he resigned. It was their loss.

The SSK that he left behind was a world beater. The engine was a massive seven litre straight six with a single overhead camshaft and, fitted with a supercharger, it could produce 225 brake horsepower giving the car a top speed of 108 miles per hour. The chassis was based on the existing short wheelbase Modell S but to reduce weight this was shortened still further and the engine and radiator were placed closer to the driver, in order to improve the balance of the car. The chassis was lowered, giving the car a long lean look.

This car was unbeatable on the racetrack. The list of successes include the 500 miles of Argentina, the British and Irish Grand Prix, the Cordova Grand Prix, the Mille Miglia and the British tourist Trophy race.

As if this wasn't enough a special lightened version was brought out; this weight loss was achieved by the use of a drilled ladder frame. This led to some embarrassing breakdowns, particularly bearing in mind that the frame had to deal with a huge powerful engine.

How many SSKs were built is not known for certainty but it is probably less than 40. Very few of them still survive since a lot of them were damaged or wrecked by crashes during racing. The few survivors can now command very high prices indeed.

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