Once a year, the glamorous Belgian seaside resort of Het Zoute is transformed into an exclusive stage for showcasing the automotive lifestyle in all its diversity. For the Zoute Grand Prix, which has been held since 2010, offers five different formats for experiencing the fascination of automotive culture.
Classic vehicles will be especially in the spotlight at the Zoute Rally (5 to 7 October 2017), the Concours d’Elégance (7 to 8 October) and the Zoute Sale by Bonhams (5 and 6 October). The Zoute GT Tour (8 October) is devoted to outstanding sports cars from the past twenty years. On 18 podiums along the exclusive Kustlaan shopping mile and Albertplein Square, the Zoute Top Marques (5 to 8 October) will present the highlights of the current ranges of the participating brands. Mercedes-Benz is a Premium Car Partner of Top Marques.
Magic moments of motor sport
Mercedes-Benz Classic will be represented at the Zoute Grand Prix 2017 by three vehicles that recall magic moments of motor sport with near-standard open-top sports cars from different eras: the supercharged Model S sports car from 1927, the racing version of the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121) and the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLS (W 198), the winning car in the 1957 US sports car championship. The automobiles of the Stuttgart brand will be presented and driven by, among others, former racing driver and Mercedes-Benz Classic brand ambassador Jochen Mass.
Ninety years ago, the Model S was the first member of the successful S-series to which it gave its name and which also included SS and SSK versions. It was with these supercharged sports cars that the brand dominated international motor sport in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The six-cylinder in-line engine of the Model S, the “S” standing for “Sport”, had an output of 88 kW (120 hp). With help from the supercharger, this rose to a mighty 132 kW (180 hp), making the high-performance sports car the most successful racing car of its era. At the same time, the Model S was also produced in the guise of a highly exclusive, street-legal super sports car and sold to discerning customers.
The racing version of the Roadster 190 SL (W 121) stands for the motor sport successes of Mercedes-Benz standard-production cars in the 1950s. This field, however, was dominated by the “big brother” 300 SL, as the 190 SL was disadvantaged by the rules: the sports version was homologated by the FIA not as a GT, but only as a sports car – a class in which it really stood no chance. Even so, the 190 SL recorded some racing successes, such as in the Grand Prix of Macau and the Grand Prix of Casablanca in 1956.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLS was produced as a special version of the 300 SL Roadster (W 198), unveiled in 1957, for competing in the US sports car championship. Lightweight design along with an optimised engine made the vehicle a winner, with Paul O’Shea taking the championship title for the third time in succession.
Automotive culture between city, beach and golf green
Those participating in the Zoute Rally by Chubb will experience classic automobiles on dream roads of Flanders. This year, a field of almost 200 vehicles built between 1920 and 1965 will line up at the start. Following the technical inspections on the Thursday (5 October 2017) in the centre of Het Zoute near the Alberplein, the rally itself will take place on the following two days. The start is on the Friday (6 October) from 8.30 am as well as on the Saturday (7 October) from 8.00 am. The finish on both days is from 4.00 pm at the dyke near the famous sandy beach.
The Concours d’Elégance will take place at the Royal Zoute Golf Club. Over 50 outstanding classic vehicles will be presented to the public at this event alongside the Zoute Grand Prix. Among last year’s prizewinners were a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing car (W 194) from 1952 and a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” Coupé (W 198). In 2016, the 300 SL “Gullwing” won the prestigious “Most Iconic Car” award.
Zoute Grand Prix 2017: Mercedes-Benz Classic vehicles
Mercedes-Benz Model S (W 06), 1927
The Mercedes-Benz Model S of 1927 was the first in a series of supercharged sports cars that were nicknamed “White Elephants” and which dominated motor sport in the late 1920s, achieving world fame. The “S” stood for Sport, which says it all. Its first race outing – the inaugural race at the Nürburgring on 19 June 1927 – resulted in a triple victory for Mercedes-Benz. The winner was Rudolf Caracciola, who went on to become the most successful racing driver of the pre-war era. Other triumphs for the brand included a triple victory in the German Sports Car Grand Prix at Nürburgring on 17 July 1927, the second major event at the “Ring” in its opening year. The racing version of the Model S was reserved for works drivers. However, it was also available as an exclusive, street-legal sports car that was successfully driven by numerous private drivers in competitions – for such “gentleman drivers” it was one of the fastest cars available. A total of 146 units were built up until 1928. The Model S (“Sport”) gave rise in 1928 to the SS (“Super Sport”) and SSK (“Super Sport Kurz [Short]”). These were followed in 1931 by the SSKL (“Super Sport Kurz Light”), a slimmed-down version of the SSK with an even more powerful engine.
Technical data of the Mercedes-Benz Model S
Production period: 1927 to 1928
Displacement: 6789 cc
Output: 88 kW (120 hp), with compressor 132 kW (180 hp) at 3000 rpm
Top speed: 170 km/h
Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121, 1955-1963)
Together with the 300 SL “Gullwing” high-performance sports car, Mercedes-Benz in February 1954 unveiled the prototype of the elegant, compact Roadster 190 SL (W 121). The open-top two-door model was designed as a sporty, elegant touring and utility vehicle for two persons and, especially in the revised standard-production vehicle, was closely based on its “big brother”, the 300 SL, on the stylistic front. Conceived from the outset as a roadster, the 190 SL established the tradition of SL sports cars with a roof that could be opened. The roadster, for its part, was more closely related at a technical level to the Mercedes-Benz 180 “Ponton” saloon (W 120), copying the latter’s shortened floor assembly. The 1.9-litre petrol engine rated at 77 kW (105 hp) was newly developed. The four-cylinder machine featured an overhead camshaft and was to found an entire family of engines. The so-called Club Sport version of the 190 SL recorded some motor sport successes in 1956 – e.g. in the Grand Prix of Macau and the Grand Prix of Casablanca. It was, however, disadvantaged by the rules: with a small sports windscreen and without a soft top, it was not able to be completely closed, for which reason it was homologated by the FIA not as a GT, but as a sports car – a class in which it really stood no chance. The fact that this version was removed from the product line-up does not detract from the success of the 190 SL: a total of 25,881 units were built, some 18,000 of them going to the USA.
Technical data of the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (standard-production version)
Production period: 1955-1963
Displacement: 1897 cc
Output: 77 kW (105 hp)
Top speed: up to 180 km/h
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLS (W 198), 1957
Two examples of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLS, a special version of the 300 SL Roadster presented in 1957, were built for the American sports car championship in the same year, owing to the fact that the production version of the brand-new model was not yet allowed to contest the 1957 season in the “Standard production” category. To maximise its chances in the only remaining alternative motor racing category, D, every trick in the book was applied to slim down a standard roadster to an SLS weighing just 970 kilograms. The engine output was also increased to 173 kW (235 hp). It was in the SLS that Paul O’Shea won Category D of the American sports car championship by a significant margin over the competition – he had previously taken the title in 1955 and 1956 with the 300 SL “Gullwing”.
Technical data of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLS (W 198)
Year: 1957 Cylinders: 6/in-line
Displacement: 2996 cc
Output: 173 kW (235 hp)
Top speed: 260 km/h
Zoute Grand Prix 2017: Mercedes-Benz Classic brand ambassador
Born on 30 September 1946 in Dorfen near Starnberg, Germany
Jochen Mass, originally a trained seaman, began his varied career in motor sport in 1968 in touring car races for Alfa-Romeo and as a works driver for Ford from 1970 to 1975. During this period, he won the 24-Hour Race at Spa-Francorchamps in 1972. At the same time, he also took part in Formula 2 racing (1973) and competed in 105 Formula 1 Grands Prix (1973/74 with Surtees; 1975 to 1977 with McLaren; 1978 with ATS; 1979/80 with Arrows; 1982 with March). In 1984, Mass drove a Mercedes-Benz 500 SLC (C 107) in the Paris–Dakar Rally. After winning the German Sports Car Championship in 1985 and a stint as a works driver with Porsche until 1987, he joined the Sauber-Mercedes team as a works driver in 1988. He competed in Group C for the same team until 1991. In the new Silver Arrow, the Sauber-Mercedes C 9, Jochen Mass triumphed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1989 in the same team as Manuel Reuter and Stanley Dickens, going on to finish runner-up in the world championship in the same year. Three years later, Mass joined the team management of the DTM. Sir Stirling Moss once described him as a “soul mate” and as “a driver with an enormous feeling for racing cars and a great deal of expertise who is familiar with the racing history of every era”. It is therefore not by chance that Jochen Mass can nowadays be seen at the wheel for Mercedes-Benz at historical events. From the W 125 Silver Arrow to the Mercedes-Benz SSK – Jochen Mass knows and drives them all.