Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR #104 – Spark

300 SLR
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR #104
Pilots: S. Moss, P. Collins
Team: Daimler Benz AG
Race: 1st overall (S+ 2.0) at Targa Florio in 1955
Spark - 43TF55 (resin) 

Published 04/09/21

The 300 SLR (or W196S) was the sportscar variation of Mercedes’ all-conquering W196. The W196 dominated the 1954 and 1955 F1 seasons, bringing Mercedes their first championships after the pre-WWII GP Era. Though intended to race at La Sarthe in 1954, the SLR (Sport Leicht-Rennen or “Sport Light-Racing”) was only ready in 1955. The sportscar shared the same engine of the W196, but with an endurance-orientated Elektron magnesium-alloy bodywork. The engine was a straight-8 with 2982 cm³ of displacement, with desmodromic valves and mechanical direct fuel injection. The chassis, derived from the 1952 300 SL, was a space frame made of welded aluminum tubes. It was a latticework of tubes 25 millimeters in diameter and one millimeter in wall thickness, weighing just 60 kg. For an endurance car, it was quite light at about 860 kg (with two spare wheels in the trunk!), and could reach 300 km/h.

300 SLR
Since the Targa Florio was raced on public roads, all cars needed to be road legal in Italy.

The Targa Florio, one of Italy’s most traditional races, was an open road endurance race around the mountainous island of Sicily. Raced on regular roads, it went through small towns and mountains, with plenty of hairpins and blind corners. First raced in 1906, it was a single counterclockwise 148 km lap of the Circuito Grande delle Madonie around the island. The number of laps and the route varied, and in the 1930s and after 1951 the Circuito Piccolo delle Madonie became the official route, with 71.8 km. During all its incarnations, the race had an unprecedented level of difficulty. For instance, the Piccolo circuit had around 800 to 900 (!) corners. And each race consisted of about 13 laps per race… To put that into perspective, the 21-km Nürburgring has about 180 corners. That being so, the Targa Florio was no walk in the park.

300 SLR
Just like in the race, Spark produced the model with covered fog lights and without the plexiglass headlight cover.

After the tragedy at Le Mans in June 1955, Mercedes decided to abandon racing. However, the 39a Targa Florio scheduled for October 16th, would be the final round of FIA’s 1955 World Sportscar Championship. By then the title lay between Ferrari, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz, with Ferrari leading by only three points. That meant a victory at the Targa Florio would bring the championship. With the title in their grasp, upper management decided that the Targa Florio would be their last hurrah. So Mercedes enrolled Fangio and Kling in the 300 SLR #112, Fitch and Titterington in car #106 and Moss and Collins in car #104. After a grueling race, the 300 SLR #104 came in first place in 9h43m14s and #112 in second, with #106 in fourth. As a result, Mercedes took the title. Conversely, that was the last race for Mercedes as a factory team until 1994.

The Mille Miglia #722 is a nice model, but it pales compared to Spark’s Targa Florio version.

In scale it’s a duesy, MUCH more accurate than my #722. For instance, if you look closely, on the Spark you don’t see the drum brakes, since they were inboard (almost in the center of the axle). Conversely, on the Minichamps you can clearly see them. As far as I know, it’s the only good driver-less Silberpfeil 1:43rd that I didn’t have (I talked about that here). Yeah yeah, per my own definition it’s NOT a Silberpfeil, since it’s post-WWII and not a GP car. All right, not a true Silberpfeil but definitively related, and truly a beautiful car.

Since there was no copilot, the passenger seat was covered by a tonneau cover.

This is my first import of the year… As you see, things are slow around here 😢. With a much tighter budget I have to be very selective. Well, not that this one was cheap, but it’s an important model. With my current budget restraints I’ll direct my funds to special models, and therefore buying less volume. Accordingly, this 300 SLR #104 easily qualifies as historically important AND at the same time is a great model. Besides, it was driven to victory by Stirling Moss, one of my motorsports heroes. And won the Targa Florio, one of the most traditional races ever and as bonkers as the Mille Miglia. As a result I’m confident Mercury will approve me circumventing the Only Le Mans rule 😁. 

PS:  I have a feeling this one will be a VERY hard to find model in the future. If you’re thinking about it, jump on it.

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