Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mercedes "Blau Wonder" SLR Transporter

Today, departing from the usual, I would like to create a small post about one of the all-time rarest cars I have ever had the honor of getting my hands on: a Mercedes-Benz "Blue Wonder" Transporter for the 300SLR racecar. Most definitely a fond memory with a vehicle of such historical significance, one to share with someone else's grandchildren!

1950's photograph depicting the transporter in action!

In the early 1950's, with the rise of the Gullwing in 1952 and the smashing success of the W196 in the Grand Prix of 1955, racing team manager Alfred Neubauer declared that Mercedes should have some kind of emergency one-car transport . An engineer named Hellinge came up with a design based off a 300SL –in fact, many parts are shared, including a detuned 192hp version of the six-cylinder, three-liter engine from the racecars-; and with the approval of technical director Rudolf Uhlenhaut, the transporter was finally built.

Notice the 300SL bumper, headlights and grille.

The car was meant to be shown at the Mercedes-Benz museum, but it was scrapped in 1967 , ten years after its consignment, because the floor at the old museum was too weak to keep up with its weight. In 1993, Mercedes gave a green light for a replica to be reconstructed, one that would take seven years to complete.

Close-up of this strange, strange automobile.

My 300SLR transporter, in a meetup of the Gullwing Group.

Das Blau Wonder, at the main door of Burlingame Motors!

Picture of the pristine interior. Notice more shared components.

There are no original surviving, so any SLR transporter that you see has to be a replica, even the one in the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart. The one I worked on is for sale for a handsome $600K (click here if you dare), but at this point... I do not know who is reading my posts anymore, so go for it if you can! This one does not have a 300SL engine, but a rather colorful decision in motoring: a 190E European-spec carburated engine. It did sound nice!

I think it may have been very uncomfortable in long distance drives!

Would you ever believe it could reach 100mph? Don't even mention MPG!

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