1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “Uhlenhaut Coupe”
Minichamps - 432553200 (diecast)
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR #19 (09/12/17):
Designed in 1955 by the great Rudolf Uhlenhaut, the 300 SLR was based on the W196. The W196 brought Mercedes-Benz the Formula One championship in 1954 and 1955. The SLR name came from Sport Leicht-Rennen or “Sport Light-Racing” – later on the SL-R became just SLR. Internally known as the W196S, it had a welded aluminum tube space frame chassis covered by an ultra-light Elektron magnesium-alloy bodywork. The engine was a straight-8 with 2982 cm³ of displacement with an output of around 300 hp. For better weight distribution, it sat longitudinally just behind the front axles. A pretty sophisticated engine, with desmodromic valves and mechanical direct fuel injection.
By today’s standards the 300 SLR would be called a “super car”. It was a truly remarkable machine, and had the potential to dominate sports car racing. But then the 1955 Le Mans race happened… Pierre Levegh’s 300 SLR crashed in front of the grandstand, and the wreck exploded over the crowd. A total of 82 people died that day, with dozens more injured. The Mercedes team abandoned the race, and the manufacturer withdrew from racing for decades.
All in all Mercedes produced nine rolling chassis, and of these, two of them were coupes with gullwing doors. However, with the cancellation of all race efforts, Mercedes didn’t need these chassis anymore. They were going to be scrapped. Uhlenhaut then asked if he could transform one of the coupes into his personal car. And Mercedes said yes. So he adapted a muffler system to the car and the “Uhlenhaut Coupe” became the world’s fastest company car.
There is a story about how Uhlenhaut, late for a meeting, got from Munich to Stuttgart in about an hour. Just as a FYI, Munich is 220 km from Stuttgart and today that route takes 2h30m. In other words, the Uhlenhaut Coupe was fast. In addition, another cool detail is that the car exists to this day, and resides in the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
This is a model that I always wanted, just because the car is so friggin’ cool. Minichamps is the only brand that makes it, and being from an older mold, it’s definitively not stellar. Overall shape and details are pretty good, but it doesn’t have the higher refinement of their current models. Therefor, until Minichamps reissues it (or some other good brand makes it), this is the best game in town. Not bad (far from that!), but could be better.