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Mercedes Benz 680 S 26/120/180 hp Saoutchik Torpedo


Mercedes Benz 680 S 26/120/180 hp Saoutchik Torpedo

Introduced at the maiden Nurburgring 1000 km race in 1927, the S-Type is considered Ferdinand Porsche's finest design for Mercedes Benz. Although it was intended purely as a racer, the S-Type was not designed from the bottom up as a racer, but developed from original road going Mercedes models. At that Mercedes Benz however did not yet have a big enough budget to allow them to setup a full bore race program, which many of the company's Italian and British competitors did have.

Porsche based the S-Type on 400 and 630 models, which were named after their displacement (almost 4 and 6.3 litre respectively). Both models were equipped with six cylinder engines fitted with a supercharger that engaged only when the throttle was floored. The official type indication of these models included three horsepower figures, the first for the fiscal hp, the second for the performance in natural aspirated form and the third indicated the performance with the supercharger engaged.

It was the engine that made these Mercedes models interesting, as the chassis and suspension were of a very simple design. One of the model's biggest drawbacks was its size and weight. Agility was definitly not what these models excelled at. A first step was taken in the right direction when the K-Type was introduced in 1926. The K was an abreviation for the German 'Kurz' or 'short' and indicated the shorter wheelbase compared to the 630.

Although the shorter wheelbase was an improvement, much more was needed to provide the car with proper balance. What made the difference were the modifications found on the first S-Type. The entire car was lowered and the engine moved back in the chassis. Both were aimed at centering the weight, which was beneficial for handling. In addition, the engine capacity was increased to just under 6.8 litres. It was known as the 680 S.

Porsche's improvements paid off and the 680 S made its victorious run at the first ever race on the Nurburgring. With 172 bends, handling is what the 25.6 km track is all about, underlining the S-Types fine cornering ability. Larger engines were fitted to create the 700 SS and ultimately 710 SS. These were intended for road use, but were almost identical to the now legendary SSK and SSKL racers that were derived from the SS. True race cars for the road, producing 225 bhp with the supercharger engaged.

In this era there was little difference between high performance road cars and the sports racing cars. The distinguishing part usually was the type of coachwork fitted. In contrast to the Nurburgring winning 680 S obviously had a lightweight simple body installed, the featured example sports a lavish Torpedo body styled and built by Paris based coachbuilder Saoutchik. Interestingly, it was ordered by a lady for her husband in 1928, but for reasons unknown, it was never picked up from the New York dealership.

The one-off Saoutchik Mercedes lingered on the show floor for a while before it was purchased by its true first owner. He owned it until his untimely death in 1952 and among many other things he met his future wife driving the striking Mercedes Benz. In his memory, the family held onto the car for another five decades.
 

General specifications
Country of origin Germany
Produced in 1928
Numbers built one-off
Body design Saoutchik
Weight 1900 kilo / 4188.8 lbs
Drivetrain
Engine M 9856 Straight 6
Engine Location Front , longitudinally mounted
Displacement 6.789 litre / 414.3 cu in
Valvetrain 2 valves / cylinder, SOHC
Fuel feed 2 Carburettors
Aspiration Roots-Type Supercharger
Gearbox 4 speed Manual
Drive Rear wheel drive
Performance figures
Power 180 bhp / 134 KW @ 3000 rpm
Torque 470 Nm / 347 ft lbs @ 1900 rpm
BHP/Liter 27 bhp / litre
Power to weight ratio 0.09 bhp / kg
Top Speed 176 km/h / 109 mph