The ‘Uhlenhaut Coupé holds a special place in Mercedes-Benz’s motor sport history. It’s one of two examples made for the 1956 season, however they were never used for racing as Mercedes-Benz withdrew from the sports car world championship after winning the title in 1955.
It is closely related to the 300 SLR racing car, driven to great effect by Stirling Moss and John Cooper Fitch when they won the 1955 British International Tourist Trophy, and also the #722 car driven by Moss and Denis Jenkinson in the 1955 Mille Miglia.
The legendary engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut, former head of car development for Mercedes-Benz and father of the 300 SLR and other models, used the Coupé in the following years as his company car, earning it the nickname “Uhlenhaut coupé”, and made a number of long journeys all over Europe after its side exhaust was fitted with a silencer (to make it road legal).
The aluminium-bodied, rear wheel drive coupé will be driven at this year’s Festival of Speed by Jochen Mass, a regular at Goodwood’s garden party event.
The 300 SLR Coupé was the fastest closed roof vehicle of its time, using the same 306bhp 3.0-litre straight eight-cylinder as the 300 SLR race car. That was more than enough power to shift its lightweight 1117 kg body, providing something of a stark contrast to its modern-day Sport Lightweight sibling – the SLS AMG GT – which tips the scales at 1695 kg (a little over 5 kg more than the SLK 55 AMG).
Top speed was around 178 mph, which Uhlenhaut was rumoured to achieve during his frequent autobahn runs.
The car (shown at this week’s Goodwood Festival of Speed press day) is now owned by the Mercedes-Benz Classic collection, and is still driven at events, although nowhere near as quickly as it once was.
Further Reading: If you’d like to learn more about that famous 1955 Mille Miglia won by Moss and Jenks, there’s a wonderful web resource created by Tom Prior which tells the story stage by stage.
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