S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com MERCEDES Page keywords = Mercedes Benz Daimler Chrysler DaimlerChrysler Gottleib Otto Karl car auto history S SS K L 300 500 540 770 Grösser Grosser

Updated:   21 Oct 2019; 13:30  ET
[Page converted 30 Mar 2010;

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/mercedes.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/mercedes.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) has been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they are dropping WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have to scramble to transfer everything by then.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


Mercedes-Benz Page

S. Berliner, III's

Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher



  On this "main" Mercedes page:
    Mercedes miscellany follows this index.
    Did You Know Department, including the
        Differences between K, S, and SS Models.

  On the Mercedes Continuation Page 1:
    S and SS Survivors - with IDs (moved 09 Jan 01).
    Other M-B Survivors of Note (to me).
    1924 Type 24-100/140 Photos
    Mercedes Benz Bibliography (moved 09 Jan 01).

  On the Mercedes Continuation Page 2:
    Ex-Peck/Brodie/MMA/Boyer 1928 SS Tourer
        [plus update on "recent" history of the car].   new (27 Jun 2013) and rev (21 Oct 2019)
    Al Jolson's Mercedes K-S-SS Cars   added (21 Oct 2019)
    "K" vs. "K".
    540K at Bill Frick's.
    SSK at Bill Frick's
    SS & SSK Color Brochure
    24-100/140 Specifications

  On the Mercedes Continuation Page 3:
    Works History of the Type 24-100/140 and K
    Model Mercedes.
    More In(en)quiries.
        {see new inquiry re 1927 S now available (Aug 2011)}   new (13 Jul 2011)

  On Mercedes Continuation Page 4:
    Type 770K Grösser Mercedes (moved from page 3 on 05 Dec 05)
    Hitler's Mercedes-Benzes

The name "Mercedes" was first applied to the Daimler car in 1901.
Although the cars were delivered in 1902, the name of his young daughter was specifed by Emil Jellinek in 1901.

Mercedes and Chrysler inked their $3billion+ merger and DaimlerChrysler AG/Corporation began business on 17 Nov 98 and started trading combined shares on 18 Nov 98; two of my most favo(u)rite cars!

For DaimlerChrysler aquisitions, spinoffs, and other news, refer to the DaimlerChrysler page (now closed).

A quick chronology of the "un-merger":
    04 Oct 2007 - DaimlerChrysler AG renamed as Daimler AG.
    03 Aug 2007 - transaction completed.
    14 May 2007 - Chrysler interests sold off to Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. by Daimler-Chrysler.

Chrysler LLC, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chrysler Holdings LLC, which in turn is owned 80.1% by Cerberus Capital Management LP and 19.9% by Daimler AG.  Chrysler LLC consists of Chrysler Motors Company LLC and its subsidiaries — Chrysler Canada Inc. and Chrysler de Mexico S.A. de C.V., as well as other international automotive affiliates.

So much for that merger!

Adtranz, formed Jan 1996, merging rail transportation activities of ABB Ltd. and Daimler-Benz AG took DaimlerChrysler into the railroad business and the sale of the venture to Bombardier, announced 04 Aug 2000, apparently takes them right out again!

Of course, Daimler was in it in the first place:

FIRST I.C. LOCO! - Gottlieb Daimler built an internal-combustion-powered locomotive ca. 1890!  For more information, click HERE!
[Not so, the Brits got there first in 1881!  More on this to follow.]

[For those interested in the Chrysler side as well,
see my Chrysler page, et seq.
(with the Walter P. Chrysler story).]

The Mercedes-Benz Club of America can be reached at 1907 Lelaray Street, Colorado Springs, CO  80909, 800-637-2360.

WORKS (factory) LINKS {restored 05 Mar 2002} -

Daimler/Mercedes/Benz and

Mercedes-Benz History.

DISCLAIMER - my interest in Mercedes/Daimler-Benz, whil(e)(st) perhaps encompassing, is primarily in the S and SS series of the late 1920s and early 1930s; this is not intended to be a full-blown history or chronology of the Mercedes marque. - SB,III

May I first acknowledge the wonderful assistance of Daimler Benz Aktiengesellschaft
and, in particular, the Museum and Classic Archiv staffs.

In early 1956, I had the incredible fortune to drive the 1928 SS tourer that was featured in the Museum of Modern Art (along with the famed Movado watch) as a supreme example of pure functional beauty.  It was quite an adventure and I've written it up and will add lots more info for M-B enthusiasts as I get the time and inclination.  The car was all burgundy with crimson piping and spokes and an off-white head (top) [my memory on some of this was 'way off!] and I finally found my bureau-top photo (missing since the last move) 07 Jan 01 (and then lost the image):

1928 M-B SS  56 Boyer
Allston Boyer and his car in 1956.
[Photo ca. Feb 56 by and © 1956/2003 - S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved]
{image restored 23 Nov 03}
(Thumbnail image - click on photo for much larger image.)

(That Kodacolor print was marked that it was printed "Week Ending Mar. 3, 1956"
and had changed sadly over the years; this image is from the original negatives; that body paint was a true, rich burgundy and, if the crimson piping shows, I can't see it!)

Incidentally, that tubular factory front bumper is set wrong;
the rearward sweep of the ends should be absolutely horizontal.

Here is a similar (but older S model) car, ca. 1927, in factory racing white:

M-B S Tourer ca. 1927
(photo from Daimler Benz Classic Archiv)

As I recall, these factory-bodied cars carried a body plate low on the right side (in the door frame or just forward of it?) that read:

Carrosserie Sindelfingen,

Sindelfingen being the plant that made the bodies.

I personally think this model (the S tourer) is the most handsome vehicle ever built,
with the SS tourer (especially David "Bunty" Scott-Moncrieff's
1931 38/250 SS drophead*, as pictured in his book)
a very close second (it differed mainly in that the head folded
to a horizontal position) and a few 500K coupés a close third.

[08 Jan 01 - I had written "tourer" but as I now recall that car had wind-up windows
and a full join of the windscreen, cowl, and door; thus, "drophead"]

It measures 17½ feet (5334mm) from end to end (with tubular bumpers) and just look how magnificently long the hood (bonnet) is and how far back the driver sits!  The wheelbase was 11' 2" (3400mm) and the track was 4' 8" (1420mm).

These cars had a 428.4 cu. in. (7.02 litre), 6-cylinder engine that filled that long hood and developed 170HP (225HP blown by a mechanically-engaged Roots supercharger compressor mounted directly on the front of the crankshaft) at under 3,200rpm (U/M) with 4" (100mm) bore x 6" (150mm) stroke.  Those elegant wire wheels were shod with 700x20 balloon tires!

The gas tank held 31.7 U.S. gallons (120 litres) and the sump held 8½ quarts (8 litres) of oil!

Approximate top speed was a thundering 105mph (170k/S) unblown and an ear-splitting 125mph (200k/S) when that monster supercharger was engaged by depressing the accelerator pedal all the way to the floorboard to push a lever there.  This was quite exhilarating, especially with the top (head) and windshield (screen) down!

Gas mileage was estimated at about 5mpg (26 litres per 100km), which took you fairly far
as long as you remembered to add a quart of oil every 60 miles or so!

I'd better look to my laurels; this info is not given provenance and I'll have to check S vs. SS specs; this appears to be for the SS, not the S.

I seem to have neglected to explain the model lettering; the old, high "K" had no special significance to my knowledge [it sure wasn't kurz (short)], the lower "S" model stood for "Sport", the next model, "SS", stood for "Super Sport", the "SSK" for "Super Sport Kurz" (Short Chassis), and, lastly, "SSKL" for "Super Sport Kurz Leicht" (Light - having lightening holes drilled/punched in the chassis frame rail sides).

Here is a standard factory racing SS with full-length chassis, no doors (vault-over cutdown side panels), and free-standing racing fenders (mudguards):

SS Racer Kom. 48805 MBA Neg.10388
(photo courtesy of Daimler Benz Classic Archiv, Neg. #10388, Kompressor 48805)
[all rights reserved to DaimlerChrysler]

This is an early standard factory racing SSKL with short chassis, no doors (vault-over cutdown side panels), and free-standing racing fenders (mudguards):

SSKL Racer MBA Neg.12404, LS

SSKL Racer MBA Neg.12405, RS
(photos courtesy of Daimler Benz Classic Archiv, Negs. Left side #12404 and Right Side #12405
no chassis number noted on negatives)
[all rights reserved to DaimlerChrysler]

Note that I term it an "early" model SSKL because the lightening holes do NOT extend to the front kick-up.

Now, we have a Papler-bodied SSK with short chassis, full doors with wind-up windows, a full (padded) drop-head with working landau irons, rear-mounted dual spares, and faired-in touring fenders (mudguards) with dual tool/storage boxes:

SSKL Racer MBA Neg.12404, Kom. 39608, RF

SSKL Racer MBA Neg.12405, Kom. 39608, LR
(photos courtesy of Daimler Benz Classic Archiv, Negs. right front #12404 and left rear #12405)
[all rights reserved to DaimlerChrysler]

On these latter two, notice how Papler duplicated the tourer's graceful lines on a very short chassis with a drop-head.  Note also that the diagonal line (a crack in a glass negative?) appears on the factory right front print sent to me so I have elected to leave it in rather than retouch the photo.

Both of these latter photos are noted:

Mercedes-Benz - Kompressor - Sport - Cabriolet "SSK" Karrosserie Papler.

[I thank the Daimler Benz Classic Archiv for providing these prints and for granting specific permission to duplicate them here; DaimlerChrysler retains all rights in these photos.]

I took many photos (including excruciatingly-detailed shots of engine compartments and dashboards) of S and SS cars (and some K, 380K, 500K, 540K, and 770 cars) back in the '50s.  Some of these include famed cartoonist and driver, Charles Addams, in his S tourer out at the Bridgehampton (Long Island) track.

That SS tourer from the museum exhibit was then owned by the late Allston Boyer, of Colonial Williamsburgh#, Inc., and stored in running order at his home in Brookville, Long Island, near where I now live.  His stepson, Eddie Robbins, had written Road & Track about it after a feature article on the car appeared ca. 1952 (and apparently also to Sports Illustrated about his dad's SSK).  I tracked him down, he passed me along (in a letter dated 07 mar 1955 which just turned up) to Boyer at the Manhattan offices, a visit to that office ensued, and I apparently passed muster as an invitation to visit on Long Island followed.  First, we opened one of some six or seven garage doors, then we unwrapped the car, being careful not to damage the giant star high above the temperature gauge which formed the base above the radiator cap on Mercedes and early Mercedes-Benz cars.  Next, we wheeled it out onto the concrete apron and checked the oil with an incredible valve noted below.  That done, we tuned up the brakes (below) and went through the somewhat agonizing Ki-Gas starting procedure (how easy we have it, now!).  I took some color pictures of the car alongside my then-almost-new 1949 Chrysler New Yorker straight 8 sedan (not the club coupé I have now); both were 17½', long bumper-to-bumper.  Mr. Boyer took one of me.  Squatting down gave quite a frontal view of the SS!  Finally, when the engine was throughly warmed up, we took off for a spin around the incredibly lovely Brookville area.  After familiarizing me with the oddities of the SS (again, see below), especially the reversed gas and brake pedal locations, Boyer gave me the con.  The first thing I noticed was the thickness of the steering wheel rim and the heaviness of the steering.  The car, I hesitate to confess, rode like a truck without shocks!  But the greatest thrill was turning the first corner!  I have always described it thusly - after exerting great force to turn the wheel (no wonder it was so large and thick!), the star went around the corner.  Several minutes later, the cowl turned the corner.  Finally, after a long wait, I whipped around the corner after all that and had to really haul on the wheel rim to straighten out the big beast.  Some more glorious cruising was followed by Boyer's agonized scream to look out for the even-then-ancient Chevy truck lurching out from a driveway some half-mile ahead on the right.  The SS had 19" mechanical brakes and they had just been tuned but were not up to the unknowledgeable's unsuspecting efforts.  I thought his reaction a bit much, but pulling the steering wheel out by the roots gave me enough leverage on the brake pedal (thank God it WAS the brake pedal, NOT the accelerator!) to give the lumbering monster some slight semblance of deceleration.  When Boyer calmed down a bit, we continued our foray and he even allowed me to wheel the beast back to his house.  About the only stunts he wouldn't allow me were to downshift by double-clutching the monster and to engage the Roots blower*; there was no benzene in the auxiliary tank.  Talk about exhilaration, even without the blower!  I still thrill to the memory!

   [# - Allston Boyer must have been a person of some import at Colonial Williamsburgh
    but he was NOT the President, as I had erroneously thought.]

Well, I finally (30 Mar 01) located my 1950s files and there are great surprises in store; the files are a bit damp but are drying and I have added some fantastic photos on the succeeding page.


    ("Didja", a contraction of "Did you", is too undignified.)

    including the Differences between K, S, and SS Models.

Did you know how to instantly tell an S from an SS?  The S usually had two dreifach Mercedes sternen (three-pointed stars), without circles, stamped on the Kühlerhaube (radiator), one on each side of the crease (as can be seen on the ex-Ustinov S in the Survivors section); whereas most SS cars had the present cloisonné enamel M-B badge centered on the crease.  Even the Stuttgart Museum people seem to have forgotten, but on all the S cars, the hood (bonnet) side hinge line is even with the fender (wing) top.  It is about 2" to 3" (5cm to 7.5cm) higher on the SS cars (see photos above).  The easiest way to tell is to examine the vertical spacing between the hood (bonnet) right-side hinge and the top of the rear-most flex exhaust pipe; on the S cars, there is almost no space, while on the SS cars there is that same 2" to 3" (5cm to 7.5cm).

    Well - there's a problem here - some of the earliest SS cars seem not to have had that higher hood:

S vs. SS
(montage of photos credited elsewhere on these pages -
all rights reserved to DaimlerChrysler and SB,III)

This montage shows S-models on the lower left and SS-models on the right; the works racer photo in the upper left is labelled "SSK" by the factory but clearly hasn't got the extra vertical space.  In addition, the spears on the custom bodies units totally obscure the difference!

I ran across a photo from the museum at Sinsheim that shows S and SS tourers side by side; here's a crop showing the S in front and trhe SS beyond and the difference in the hood side panels between the exhaust openings and the hinge is quiet clear:   new (03 Mar 2017)

S (front) vs. SS (beyond)

This blurry detail of the prow of the ex-Ustinov 1928 Type S 36/250 at Beulieu (see Survivors on the next page) shows the twin stars rather well (if fuzzily):

(cropped from Oct 98 photo by and © 2000 - S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

The K-S-SS series engines had a weird valve under the engine sump?  To check the oil, you turned it one way and, if oil came out, it was overfull.  Turn it the other way and, if no oil came out, it was out of oil.  BUT, turn it a third way and it FELL OUT and drained the sump!

The S and SS had a little hatch to the left of the gearshift that opened to reveal a long air hose and chuck hooked to a little air pump on the tranny flyshaft?

The S and SS had the gas pedal BETWEEN the clutch and brake pedals?  Made for some hairy reactions in emergencies!

The K model differed from the succeeding S model primarily only in height, but WHAT a huge difference a few silly millimeters (millimetres) make!

[Some 146mm (5¾"), if the K model on the next page is accurate!]

The K-S-SS series had mechanical brakes with adjusting chromed (nickel-silvered?) hand-wheels accessible through more little hatches in the floor on either side of the shift column.  These had to be turned to take up the slack in the rodding before each run!  Hey, hey, Chrysler fans, we've had Lockheed hydraulics as factory standard equipment since 1924!

    [These cars ran on 7.00x20 tires (tyres); more readily available 7.50x20 shoes
        were often substituted here after WWII.

"Mercedes" was the name of the beautiful 11-year old daughter of Emil Jellinek, an Austrian businessman and consul who was one of Gottleib Daimler's and Wilhelm Maybach's first customers and distributors (and directors)?  Under his direction, 36 custom-built cars were first produced under the model name "Mèrcédes" in 1902 (wonder when they dropped the French accents?) and were so successful that he added the name to his own under Austrian fiat in August 1903, becoming Emil Jellinek-Mèrcédes.

Many of those early Mercedes were quickly stripped of passenger bodies, or never fitted with them in the first place, and used for record-setting speed runs and road races, the driver always riding with a mechanic,  Ralph di Palma was one of the top American drivers to race the big white Mercedes; he is (however misspelled as "de Palmer") in #10 at possibly a Vanderbilt Cup Race just prior to WWI (my record books are not yet unpacked), looking for all the world as if his left rear wheel is off the ground (not at all an uncommon situation, then or now):

Ralph di Palma in Mercedes at VC Race??
[Thumbnail image; click on picture for large image.]

(photo from an album - earlier provenance unknown - received "in the clear" via e-mail;
obviously taken clearly through a glass darkly and reflectively - artificially lightened by SB,III.)

"Mercedes" is properly pronounced Mare-Tsay'-Days?

"Daimler" is properly pronounced Die'm-lehr but the British car, descended from a common ancestor, is pronounced Day'm-lur?

The "dreifach stern", the three-pointed star was first seen on a postcard from old Gottleib to his wife, who herself was probably the first woman to drive a motorcar, on which he drew a three-pointed star over a picture of his house in Deutz, stating to the effect that "one day this star would rise over his factory and bring prosperity" (this is a quotation from his sons in the Daimler-Benz history, not from Gottleib himself).  I have what I believe to be a better record somewhere, with a direct quotation and a photo of the garage where Daimler and Maybach (his engineer) started, with a star on its side wall, and hope eventually to find it and put it here.  Daimler copyrighted the star in 1911 and even a four-pointed version (Lincoln, look out!); later, the surrounding ring was added and a circular band with the name Mercedes at the bottom and four tiny dreifach sternen at the top was adopted for the badge in 1916.  The circled star became a radiator mascot in 1921.  When Daimler and Benz joined to ward off financial ruin in bad times (1924), the Benz laurel wreath and the Mercedes star were superimposed with both names to form the badge still in use today.  However, the K/S/SS radiators had the two simple stars on either side of the crease until some time in 1928 or so (as noted above).

The firm started as Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (Daimler Motors Salescompany) and Benz & Cie (Company) and then became Daimler Benz Aktiengesellschaft (Daimler Benz stock salescompany)?  I've forgotten, but I seem to recall that there was a GmbH tacked on at one point in between (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung - Salescompany with limited liability).

The Steinway piano factory on Queens Plaza in Long Island City was the home and factory of the American Mercedes, built under license (ca. 1896-1916) and was thus one of America's first auto factories

[it then became the home of the American Rolls-Royce].

On 16 Oct 98, whilst in England, I visited the fabulous National Motor Museum (formerly the Montagu Motor Museum) at beautiful Beaulieu (just south of Southampton) and was grievously disappointed to find no SS Jaguars on display but was quite mollified to find a 1928 S Mercedes 36/220 Tourer, the ex-Peter Ustinov car in red with black wings and head (see Survivors on the next page).  Unfortunately for me, the head was up for its periodic stretching and there are few cars extant whose lines are destroyed as badly as the S/SS tourers with the head raised (except, perhaps, original works cars).


I've had some (to me) weird in(en)quiries (why me, oh Lord?):


A Stuttgarter e-mailed the answer:

"The answer for the weird question is quite simple.  WEIGHT!  The color for german race cars was white (just like for England it was green, for France blue, Italy red and so on)  There were already weight limits for the cars at that time, the day before the start of the race the car had about 4Kg more than the minimum weight allowed.  So, in order to cut off the pounds they grinded off the paint, and the aluminium body was silver.  Due to the won Mercedes from now on made their cars silver - That's no fake." {sic}

and then:

"Which series of Mercedes holds the undisputed highway land-speed record of 271.5 mph / kpm set sometime around the year 1938 and who drove it and where?"  This latter query presupposes it was the 540K, to which I snarled: "I haven't the foggiest notion and, quite frankly, not the slightest interest.  However, it seems very highly unlikely to have been a 540K, at least not in stock form, as that was a rather ungainly and overweight automobile.  But then, I'm prejudiced in favor of the S and SS series and even a wee bit toward the 500K, a slightly leaner beast.  The 540K was more like an undersized 770K Grösser than an oversized 380K."!  Churlish, ain't I?

If I'm not absolutely sure of my answer, I refer such to the factory archives:  Mercedes-Benz Classic Archiv, HPC G328, 70322 Stuttgart, DEUTSCHLAND.

Of course, there are also serious in(en)quiries:

(01 Jul 99) - A couple in Wisconsin {?} wrote about a 1974 Mercedes Model 206DG Camper, a stand up unit with stove, refrigerator, double bed, and a back door that lifts up completely overhead, and it also also has sliding side door.  It sure sounds to me like one of the campers made by the same firm that made the VW-Kombi conversions, Westfalia.  On 17 Dec 00, I got an e-mail from a man who had a 1966 Westfalia Camper and was willing to help; that's what makes all this worth while!

19 Dec 00 - The couple with the '74 Camper ("Hannah") drove it to Alaska and back (presumably) a while back, staying in it the whole way and advisesd that the Campers were built by a combined venture of Hanomag/Henschel and Mercedes.

More in(en)quiries appear on Mercedes Page 3.

S and SS SURVIVORS - with IDs - moved to Continuation Page 1 on 09 Jan 01).

MERCEDES BENZ BIBLIOGRAPHY - moved to Continuation Page 1 on 09 Jan 01)

[For those interested in the Chrysler side as well,
see my Chrysler page, et seq.
(with the Walter P. Chrysler story).]

Cyclops fans; see Cyclops on my Automotive page!

of this series of Mercedes-Benz pages.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

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