Fantastic rally successes are an exciting chapter in 125 years of Mercedes-Benz motorsports. Every rally is a real adventure – sometimes on surfaced roads, sometimes on gravel, sometimes in the desert, on ice or through the jungle, often through different countries and even across several continents. In running these original vehicles with popular drivers in renowned classic motorcar regularity rallies, Mercedes-Benz today commemorates the rally successes of the 1950s to 1980s under the sign of the star. The permanent exhibition at the Mercedes-Benz Museum, showing victorious rally vehicles, brings the brand’s motorsport chapter to life.
Stuttgart. From Monte-Carlo to Solitude, from Dakar to the Silvretta High Alpine Road: these and other locations reflect the diversity of Mercedes-Benz rally history, especially since the brand’s return to motorsports after the end of the Second World War.
Monte team: In 1952, Mercedes-Benz returned to the motorsports scene. In January of that year, Karl Kling, Rudolf Caracciola, and Hermann Lang competed in the Rally Monte-Carlo in three Mercedes-Benz 220 (W 187) cars. In 1960, Walter Schock and Rolf Moll achieved a successful win at the “Monte” in a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE “fintail” saloon car (W 111) and led a triple victory for the Stuttgart brand. A modern echo of the successes of that time: in 2019, the Mercedes-Benz 280 S (W 108), rebuilt during the “Project Retro Rally”, took part in the AvD Histo Monte.
European successes: In 1954, Walter Schock set a benchmark for his career with his victory in the first Rally Solitude in a Mercedes-Benz 220 (W 180). Together with Rolf Moll, he won numerous rallies throughout Europe in the following years with near-production Mercedes-Benz vehicles, in particular the 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198) as well as “Ponton” and “fintail” saloon cars. The private team won the European Rally Championship in 1956 and 1960. A Mercedes-Benz 300 SE (W 112) rally car in the permanent exhibition at the Mercedes-Benz Museum is a constant reminder of the successes of the “fintail” saloon cars. It is part of the Legend 7: Silver Arrows – Races and Records exhibition area.
Argentinian ace: Ewy Rosqvist also started on a “fintail” for Mercedes-Benz on rallys and road races from 1962 onwards. In the same year, she achieves one of her greatest trimphs with the overall win of the VI Touring Car Grand Prix of Argentina together with Ursula Wirth. Born on 3 August 1929, Ewy Rosqvist celebrates her 90th birthday this year.
African adventure: After the end of the 1955 season, Mercedes-Benz, at the height of its success, withdrew from Formula One and sports car racing. Racing driver Karl Kling became Sports Director, but continued to participate in rallies himself. With Rainer Günzler, he won the Rallye Mediterranée-Le Cap from the Mediterranean to South Africa in 1959 in a Mercedes-Benz 190 D (W 121). In 1961, he won the Algiers-Lagos-Algiers Rally in a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE (W 111).
Pagoda driver: Eugen Böhringer wrote rally history in Mercedes-Benz cars in the 1960s. The 1962 European Rally Champion was the first driver ever to win the Liège-Sofia-Liège Rally twice in succession. In 1963 he won driving a Mercedes-Benz 230 SL “Pagoda” (W 113).
Marathon men: In 1977, the teams headed by Andrew Cowan and Anthony Fowkes won the London-Sydney Marathon rally in Mercedes-Benz 280 E (W 123) cars. At the time, this was considered the most gruelling of all rallies worldwide. A total of four Mercedes-Benz saloon cars were among the top ten (1, 2, 6 and 8). The winning car is now part of the Mercedes-Benz Museum’s permanent exhibition.
Eight-cylinder action: With their powerful V8 engines, the fast Mercedes-Benz SLC (C 107) shaped the rally victories of the late 1970s: the 450 SLC at the “Vuelta a la América del Sur” 1978, the 450 SLC 5.0 at the Bandama Rally on the Ivory Coast in Africa in 1979 (quadruple victory), and the 500 SLC at the Bandama Rally in 1980 (one-two victory). The Mercedes-Benz Museum now houses the winning car driven by Björn Waldegaard and Hans Thorszelius from 1980 in its permanent exhibition.
The G wins: Jacky Ickx and Claude Brasseur won the legendary Paris-Dakar Rally in 1983 in a Mercedes-Benz 280 GE. The year before, they took second place, also with the G-model.
Rally rebel: At the 1000 Miglia 2019, “urban outlaw” Magnus Walker again triggered tremendous enthusiasm among the fans in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198). That was just one of the many highlights offered today by Mercedes-Benz Classic through its presence at high-class rallies with vintage and modern cars. The artist, fashion designer, author and car collector already said after his first encounter with the “ Gullwing” at the Silvretta Classic Rallye Montafon 2018: “Every kilometre driven puts a smile on your face. I had so many unbelievably memorable moments with the car.”