Nov 17, 2010

1928 Mercedes-Benz 680 S Torpedo Roadster more than a car

1928 Mercedes-Benz 680 S Torpedo Roadster

This beautiful 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680 S Torpedo Roadster with coachwork by Saoutchik has been housed for a number of years at the Owls head Transportation Museum. It bears chassis number 40156 and was ordered by Mrs. Levine of France but the sale was never final. It remained in a showroom in New York before being purchased by Frederick Henry Bedford. After his death in 1952 it was stored for over thirty years. For Mrs. Bedord's 75th birthday the car was sent by her family to Reuters Shop for a restoration. After two years it emerged in pristine condition with the original cream colored body and red suspension and frame. The cloth top is tan and the interior is made of a fine, red leather.

At the 2006 Christies auction, held at the Monterey Jet center, the one-owner car was auctioned where it was estimated to fetch between $3 and $4 million dollars. Of the 53 items offered for sale, 39 found a new home totaling a combined income of $9,651,608. The Saoutchik Roadster sold for $3,645,000.

When first created, the Mercedes-Benz 680 S Torpedo Roadster was one of the fastest sports cars ever created. It was a product of the recent merger between Mercedes and Benz and continued their reputation for building sporty vehicles. Saoutchik in Paris finished the design in a striking Torpedo body which is truly one of the finest creations of its day.

The Type 680 has a low slung chassis and is void of running boards, further improving the vehicles sporty characteristics. Chrome accent pieces and a low windshield helped complete the ensemble of sport and sophistication. The drop top makes the vehicle suitable for all weather conditions. The interior is elegant with wood trim and comfortable and plush seating.
Ferdinand Porsche designed the S-Type for Mercedes-Benz in 1927. The racer was constructed using pre-existing road version Mercedes vehicles, mainly the 400 and 630 models. The names of these vehicles came from their displacement size in liters. For example, the 400 had a four liter engine while the 630 had a 6.3 liter engine, both were equipped a supercharger and six-cylinders. The engine was one of the most appealing attributes of these vehicles. The drawbacks that robbed the vehicles of performance were its size, weight and basic suspension system. A cushy suspension and large size was ideal for luxury vehicles that carried the elite in society, but at the track the vehicles were in need of more performance characteristics. An attempt was made to enhance the sporty nature of the 630 by shortening the wheelbase, which brought about the 'short' (Kurz) version. This drastically improved the vehicles sporty appeal but more was needed to enhance the handling. Mercedes answer to this problem was the S-Type version which saw the chassis lowered and the engine moved back. This improved the vehicles balance. To improve its performance, the engine capacity was enlarged to 6.8 liters. Thus, the 680 S was born.

The Nurburgring 1000 km race debuted in 1927. The track is challenging with it 172 turns and 25.6 km length. The track tests both the driver and the vehicle in all scenarios such as power, braking, and cornering. At the first Nurburgring race it was the 680 S that emerged victorious, a true testament to the vehicles capabilities.

Future versions of the S-Type followed such as the 700 and 710 SS which saw horsepower ratings in the 225 range. Most were considered road going cars but there was little to distinguish a car that was meant for the track and one that was meant for the road. Obviously, the vehicles fitted with luxurious coachwork never saw any track time but the roadsters, speedsters, and coupes (for example) could be used for dual purposes

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