The late 1920s was a unique period in history, with most world economies still picking up the pieces after the first World War. The inflation significantly affected luxury goods such as passenger cars, so most companies in the auto industry recorded poor sales figures. But from this challenging period emerged one of the most successful partnerships of all time, the Mercedes-Benz Automobil GmbH.
The fusion of the two oldest automakers in the world resulted in a glamorous lineup of cars in the late 1920s and early 1930s consisting of the legendary S, SS, SSK, and SSKL supercharged sports cars. To date, Mercedes-Benz enjoys the benefits from these charismatic high-speed cars that stand unparalleled in automotive history. Since Mercedes-Benz's success can be traced back to this pivotal period, here are several things you didn't know about the car that broke the glass ceiling, the legendary 1928 S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer.
10 The S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer Arrived Shortly After The Daimler-Benz Merger
Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and Benz & Cie. had been fierce competitors for many years, but they put differences aside to survive a tough financial time. The 1924 Daimler-Benz merger would ensure the companies remain competitive through coordinated purchasing strategies, designs, production techniques, advertising, and sales.
After unveiling the first jointly developed W02 and W03 passenger car models, Mercedes-Benz introduced the S-Type touring car in 1927. This first model ushered in an era of high-performance sports cars eligible for motorsport events.
9 Dr. Ferdinand Porsche Oversaw The Design Of The S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer
Ferdinand Porsche joined Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft in Stuttgart as technical director and board member in 1923, a year before the Daimler-Benz merger. Porsche quickly gained success by engineering the supercharged Mercedes PP that won the 1924 Targa Florio race, the Mercedes Monza that won the 1926 German GP, and the Mercedes 24/100/140 K recognized as the fastest touring car at the time.
After the Daimler-Benz merger, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche oversaw the design of the Mercedes-Benz S model touring car as chief engineer. Through his vast experience in making racing cars, Mercedes-Benz AG developed its first supercharged sports car entirely for racing purposes.
8 Mercedes-Benz Developed The S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer Based On The Model "K"
The Mercedes 24/100/140 K got developed in 1925 for racing events, featuring a supercharged 6.2-liter inline-six with a four-speed transmission and capable of 96mph. Mercedes-Benz developed the S-Type from this model, retaining the exact dimensions of the 'K' chassis.
However, significantly lowering the frame allowed the new 6.8-liter engines to sit 30cm further to the rear, and significantly lowering the vehicle further improved the axle load distribution. Due to the subsequent radical engine modifications, Mercedes-Benz also changed the cylinder liners from dry to wet.
7 The Supercharger In the S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer Was An Engineering Marvel
In the wake of the merger, the internal nomenclature for Mercedes-Benz engine design codes changed. In the old system, the S-Type was designated 26/120/180 to denote taxable horsepower, actual horsepower, and horsepower when the supercharger is engaged.
The signature on-demand Roots-type supercharger was an engineering marvel, since it only sprung into action when the accelerator was fully pushed down. The S model's supercharger boosted power output from 120 to 180 horsepower for several glorious seconds.
6 The S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer Was The First Of The 'White Elephants' Series
'White Elephants' sounds like an unflattering nickname for vehicles intended for racing, but this series of vehicles undoubtedly made their mark in racing history. These Mercedes-Benz racing cars, painted in the white racing livery of Germany, were heavyweights yet brutally powerful.
Ironically, the big and strong 'White Elephants' consistently outclassed the lighter, more maneuverable competition to win multiple races. The S-Type 26/180 was the first model in the legendary series, later succeeded by the SS, SSK, and SSKL models.
5 The S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer Debuted With A Victory At The Nürburgring
In 1927, the Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/120/180 cars entered the first race ever held on the new Nürburgring. In its first outing, the S-Type delivered clear proof of its high-speed sports car status.
Mercedes-Benz achieved an astounding win in the inaugural race on the Nürburgring, with legendary drivers Rudolf Caracciola and Adolf Rosenberger at the wheels of the S-Model cars. This monumental victory marked the beginning of one of the greatest motorsport success stories.
4 Mercedes-Benz Dominated Numerous Races With The S-Type Tourer
Rudolf Caracciola achieved the fastest time in all classes at the newly-opened Nürburgring in 1927, then finished first in class in the 1927 Baden-Baden Automobile Tournament and Batschari Challenge Trophy. The S-Type also achieved a triple finish in the 1927 German Grand Prix for Sports Cars, held at the Nürburgring.
The S-Type dominated the 1927 International Klausenpass Race in Switzerland, with Caracciola setting a national open championship record for touring cars that stands unbeaten to date. Besides factory team racing, private motorists recorded further success in various races thanks to the S-Type
3 The S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer Cost More Than $7,000 Without Coachwork
As Mercedes-Benz continued to dominate racing, private motorists gained interest and wanted to benefit from the enormous power of the supercharged S-Type. The automaker obliged and built sports cars for non-racing customers and private drivers who wanted to participate in competitive events.
Mercedes-Benz sold the S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer for more than $7,000 before any coachwork was done, and they became the vehicle of choice for more affluent motorists. Some owners outsourced coachwork to Jaques Saoutchik, whose designs included a low windshield, copper-nickel alloy accents, wood interior appointments, and reptile-skin upholstery.
2 Mercedes-Benz Built Only 146 examples Of The S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer
The S-Type was the closest vehicle to a racing car that private motorists with sporting aspirations could get their hands on in the late 1920s. However, only a few enthusiasts could afford this unadulterated sportiness.
Mercedes-Benz introduced the S-Type in 1927 and held the series production through 1928, building 146 examples within the life span. The limited number guarantees the model's exclusivity, making it a highly desirable automobile among collectors in the 21st Century.
1 A Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer Broke A Record In Online Auction
Pre-war cars are rare in car collections, meaning fastidiously maintained examples are ultra-rare in auctions. Mercedes-Benz built a limited number of S-Type models, so it attracts much attention from wealthy suitors whenever one is up for sale.
On March 4, 2022, a Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer smashed the record for the most expensive car sold through an online auction. The red-bodied S-Type with impressive tan leather interior sold for a whopping $2,800,000 on Bring a Trailer.