Alex Iervolino, Roue watch designer and consummate carguy, blogs about the original,ONE-OF-ONE: MERCEDES-BENZ UHLENHAUT COUPÉ and Rudolf Uhlenhaut.
The 300 SLR was originally conceived for racing. Mercedes-Benz designed it for the 1956 season, but before it was even completed the company ended up deciding to withdraw from racing at the end of 1955. Even though it was never given a chance to compete, Rudolf Uhlenhaut – the head of the Test Department – managed to appropriate one of the prototypes and transform it into his company car (hence the nickname Uhlenhaut Coupé).
The car with its signature “gull-wing” doors, easily managed to surpass its competitors and earn the reputation as the fastest road car of that era. It reached a maximum speed of approximately 290 km/h (180 mph). Even though it was never used in an official race, that didn’t keep Uhlenhaut from using it like a racecar. Upon noticing he was late for a meeting, rumor has it that he drove from Munich to Stuttgart in just over an hour. Nowadays that same drive takes two-and-a-half hours! The 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé is the only one existing and has always belonged to Mercedes-Benz. Many believe that if this car were ever to go on sale it would fetch the title as the most expensive car in history!
Note: I met Rudolf Uhlenhaut during a press event at the Indianapolis 500 track in 1971 when Mercedes-Benz introduced Anti-Lock brakes and I was the editor of Hi-Performance CARS magazine. I thought I could go through the cones as fast in an SL with regular brakes as I could when the new Anti-Lock brakes were engaged. Mr. Uhlenhaut rode shotgun with me. Of course, I was dead wrong as I started scattering cones at an alarming rate. He later gave me a verbal driving lesson on the infield, above. My friend and accomplished racing author and photographer, Harry Hurst, had a T-Shirt made for me a couple of years ago, right. Martyn L. Schorr
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