1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé

"Of the nine W196s chassis built, one was destroyed in the Le Mans disaster. Of the eight that remained (and prior to the accident) Mercedes motorsport chief Rudolf Uhlenhaut had ordered two to be set aside for modification into a sort of hybrid between the SLR and the SL, featuring a slightly widened version of the SLR’s chassis with enclosed bodywork for aerodynamic purposes. Again, the strong, high sill beams of the spaceframe required the fitment of the same famous ‘gull-wing’ top-hinged doors of the other two types. For testing, and in preparation for a possible Mercedes participation in the 1956 race season, two road-legal SLRs were built. Due to Mercedes’ planned withdrawal from competitive motorsport at the end of 1955, the programme was abandoned, leaving Uhlenhaut to use one of the cars as a company car. This prolonged road use required the fitting of an extra suitcase-sized muffler to the near-unsilenced exhaust pipes to avoid arrest for breach of the peace.

This Uhlenhaut Coupé was regarded as the world’s fastest car in the 1950s, and it is rumoured that, running late for a meeting, Uhlenhaut exploited the unlimited autobahns to make today’s two-and-a-half-hour journey from Munich to Stuttgart (approximately 220km/137 miles) in just over an hour. The Uhlenhaut Coupé was road tested by the US magazine Motor Trend and by two English journalists from Automobile Revue at four o’clock in the morning on a closed section of motorway outside Munich. The latter wrote; “We are driving a car which barely takes a second to overtake the rest of the traffic and for which 120 mph on a quiet motorway is little more than walking pace. With its unflappable handling through corners, it treats the laws of centrifugal force with apparent disdain,” after a total of more than 2,000 miles (3,200 km). His only regret was that this was a sports car “which we will never be able to buy and which the average driver would never buy anyway”.” via

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