Classic Profile: Mercedes 710 Type SS

The Mercedes 710 Type SS in Bayreuth, Germany,  in 1937 | courtesy of the author
The Mercedes 710 Type SS in Bayreuth, Germany, in 1937 | courtesy of the author

Sometimes a picture reveals more than what first appears. What drew me to this picture is the Mercedes 710 Type SS. Looking almost new, this car was still something special a decade after its manufacture and clearly seems well cared for.

The Mercedes W06, as the factory designated it, Type SS was the top of the line for Mercedes street cars at the time. Only 111 Type SS cars were made between 1928 and 1933. Offered with two versions of the potent 7.1-liter supercharged straight-six engine, the car makes up to 170 horsepower before the supercharger kicks in – boosting the output yet another 55 horsepower. The supercharger on these cars engages at higher RPM, thus one must be quite determined to drive it at its limits.

This car pictured here looks to be wearing a Sindelfingen body – Sindelfingen was a subsidiary of Mercedes at the time – and if you look closely, you’ll also note that this car appears to have flag holders at the front corners.

Which brings us to the darker side of this story. This picture was taken in Bayreuth, Germany, in 1937. Bayreuth today is known for its annual festival celebrating the German composer Richard Wagner. But in 1937, Bayreuth was the center of Nazi power in the Bavarian region.

The first Nazi party leader in the region was Hans Schemm, and he was known to have acquired a Mercedes 710 Type SS in 1932. Schemm died in 1935 but his car still exists, on display at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. Is this the Schemm car seen in 1937? Regardless, it’s tragic that this triumph of German engineering is forever linked with the tyranny of the Nazis.

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