Once upon a time, long-distance road rallies were all the rage in motorsports. Sportscars raced down open roads across countries from sea to shining sea in spectacular form. But while two of the most famous took place in Italy – the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio – another took place right here in North America.
The Carrera Panamericana was held in the early 1950s in Mexico and was widely regarded as one of the most dangerous races in the world. In 1952, Karl Kling and Hans Klenk took the checkered flag in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL "Gullwing", but only after a collision with a vulture – yes, a vulture – heavily damaged the car and Herr Klenk's head in the process (hence the grille bars on the windscreen). To further cement the feat, a second Gullwing finished second, giving Mercedes a one-two finish.
The race has long since been canceled, but like the Mille Miglia was revived recently as a classics rally, and the vulture-smashing original is to retrace its routes together with the modern Gullwing, the SLS AMG. Our man Paukert is doing just that as you read this and it should be a brilliant trip down memory lane. The initial crop of photos from the event are beginning to trickle in. See for yourself in the gallery below and scope out the details in the release below the fold.
- The victorious Mercedes-Benz 300 SL of 1952 leaves the Mercedes-Benz Museum for Mexico
- Joining the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG along a stretch of the original race route
Stuttgart - The original winning car from the 3rd Carrera Panamericana Mexico in November 1952 is to return to the scene of its great triumph. The 300 SL racing sport car (W 194) will temporarily be removed from the "Races and Records" display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, in order to join the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and set off once again along a part of the original route through Central America.
The 3rd Carrera Panamericana was one of the top international races of the 1952 season. The double victory achieved by Mercedes-Benz there ranks as one of the brand's most spectacular successes. Karl Kling and co-driver Hans Klenk won the race, a long-distance event covering 3111 kilometres, against strong international competition at an average speed of 165.011 km/h. Second to cross the finishing line, also driving a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, were Hermann Lang and co-driver Erwin Grupp.
Kling's collision with a vulture at 250 km/h, which left his car with a smashed windscreen and Hans Klenk with head injuries, went into the annals of racing history. In addition to replacing the screen, the mechanics also immediately fitted eight thin vertical metal bars to protect vehicle and driver in the event of a similar collision – still the vehicle's most distinguishing feature.
Daimler AG is one of the world's most successful automotive companies. With its divisions Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler Trucks, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Daimler Buses and Daimler Financial Services, the Daimler Group is one of the biggest producers of premium cars and the world's biggest manufacturer of commercial vehicles with a global reach. Daimler Financial Services provides its customers with a full range of automotive financial services including financing, leasing, insurance and fleet management.
The company's founders, Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, made history with the invention of the automobile in the year 1886. As an automotive pioneer, Daimler continues to shape the future of mobility. The Group applies innovative and green technologies to produce safe and superior vehicles which fascinate and delight its customers. With the development of alternative drive systems, Daimler is the only vehicle producer investing in hybrid drive, electric motors and fuel-cell systems, with the goal of achieving emission-free mobility in the long term. This is just one example of how Daimler willingly accepts the challenge of meeting its responsibility towards society and the environment.
Daimler sells its vehicles and services in nearly all the countries of the world and has production facilities on five continents. Its current brand portfolio includes, in addition to the world's most valuable automotive brand, Mercedes-Benz, the brands smart, Maybach, Freightliner, Western Star, Fuso, Setra, Orion and Thomas Built Buses. The company is listed on the stock exchanges of Frankfurt, New York and Stuttgart (stock exchange symbol DAI). In 2009, the Group sold 1.6 million vehicles and employed a workforce of more than 256,000 people; revenue totaled €78.9 billion and EBIT amounted minus €1.5 billion.