Mercedes-Benz W 165, 1939
The W 165 formula racing car was developed by Mercedes-Benz in just six months to accommodate new rules which were changed at short notice for some Italian Grand Prix in 1939, including the prestigious Tripoli Grand Prix in Libya, then an Italian colony. These rules stipulated that the maximum displacement would be just 1.5 litres (rather than three litres).
The engineers around Max Sailer decided on a V8 engine (M 165) for the W 165. The right-hand cylinder bank of the short-stroke, 90-degree engine is arranged 18 millimetres forward. The design of the frame and suspension is based on the three-litre W 154: an oval tubular frame with cross-members made of chromium-nickel-molybdenum steel, a De Dion rear axle with torsion bar suspension and a wishbone suspension with coil springs at the front. Visually, the smaller-scale Mercedes looks like its big brother (the W 154) although for reasons of space the driver in the W 165 sits slightly to the right.
Two W 165 cars raced at Tripoli, resulting in a famous double win for the marque with Hermann Lang coming first with an average speed of 122.9 mph (just under 198 km/h) and Rudolf Caracciola finishing in second place.
Year of production: 1939
No. of cylinders: V8
Displacement: 1495 cc
Output: 256 hp (188 kW)
Top speed: over 168 mph (270 km/h)
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 194), 1952
On 15 June 1951, Daimler-Benz started work on a three-litre sports car with an aluminium body. By March 1952, a prototype of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL originally only intended for racing was presented to the press. It is the forefather of the legendary 300 SL series.
The 300 SL's complex tubular frame made conventional doors impossible. Technical director Rudolf Uhlenhaut saw the potential for gullwing doors, which extended only as far as the lower edge of the side windows on the first prototypes. The sixth of the ten original 300 SL vehicles was the first to be given the larger doors to comply with regulations for Le Mans.
On its first race outing, the 1952 Mille Miglia, the 300 SL managed a remarkable second place. That same year it scored a one-two victory at Le Mans, as well as a double win in the Carrera Panamericana Mexico endurance event over 1930 miles (in excess of 3000 km). The first series-produced specimens of the 300 SL (W 198 series) appeared in 1954.
Year of production: 1952
No. of cylinders: 6
Displacement: 2995 cc
Output: 170 hp (125 kW)
Top speed: approx. 149 mph (240 km/h)
Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.6-16V Evolution II, 1994
The W 201 model series saw Mercedes-Benz returning to competing on the race track in the late 1980s for the first time since the 1960s, joining forces with AMG in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM). In order to have the best chance of success, Mercedes-Benz developed a special version of the regular 190 E 2.5-16 model according to Group A regulations in 1989 – the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution. There was no doubt about the sporting credentials of this particular Mercedes-Benz saloon: wheel-arch flaring, a low front spoiler and a high-mounted rear spoiler – ingredients that met regulatory requirements and were therefore permitted in racing. For homologation, a minimum of 500 vehicles needed to be produced – ultimately 502 would be made.
Whilst the Evo I version of the 190 E was racking up its first wins, work had already commenced in August 1989 on the second stage of development – the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II, which would deliver a higher engine output of 373 hp (274 kW) rather than the 333 hp (245 kW) previously. It was also the first DTM racing car with ABS braking. In May 1990, the last of the 502 cars built left the factory in Bremen before heading to AMG for completion. The Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II made its racing debut on 16 June 1990 on the north loop of the Nürburgring. From the final DTM run on 15 October 1990 at the Hockenheimring, all factory-supported teams were on a par with the Evo II, as the vehicle became known.
Roland Asch won the DTM race in Kyalami in 1990 with the Evo II being used at the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011.
Year of production: 1989/90
No. of cylinders: 4
Displacement: 2490 cc
Output: 373 hp (274 kW)
Top speed: up to 185 mph (300 km/h)
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, 2010
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 was unveiled in the autumn of 2010. It was developed as a racing car according to the GT3 regulations laid down by FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) and designed as a customer sports vehicle for sprint and long-distance racing. As defined in the regulations, the AMG 6.2-litre V8 engine is virtually identical to that of the series-produced vehicle.
Thanks to its low weight however, the GT3 significantly improves on the already outstanding acceleration statistics of the production vehicle (0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.8 seconds). These figures, as well as the top speed, vary for the GT3 depending on the final-drive ratio used. The V8 engine on the racing vehicle also has dry sump lubrication to ensure reliable lubrication given the high lateral acceleration experienced on the race track.
In contrast to the production vehicle, the SLS AMG GT3 is equipped with a six-speed racing transmission with sequential shift. The driver changes gear using two shift paddles on the steering wheel.
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 has been used successfully in various races in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Production period: 2010 onwards
No. of cylinders: V8
Displacement: 6208 cc
Output: 571 hp (420 kW)
Top speed: over 186 mph (300 km/h) depending on final-drive ratio