Renaissance in a glamorous ambience: the “International St. Moritz Automobile Week” offers numerous highlights with a great variety of historic vehicles. It will take place from 8 to 17 September 2023. As early as 1929 and 1930, there were Automobile Weeks in St. Moritz and Mercedes-Benz was already thrilling visitors to the famous Alpine resort. This year the brand is represented with selected classic cars.

Mercedes-Benz Classic is participating in several programme events with the following vehicles:

  • The 540 K Streamliner (W 29) of 1938, a 300 SL Coupé (W 198) produced in 1955 and a Sauber-Mercedes C 9 dating from 1989 will take to the starting line at the Kilomètre Lancé (8 to 10 September 2023) on the site of Engadin Airport in St. Moritz. The C 9 is driven by brand ambassador Bernd Mayländer, the driver of the Formula One Safety Car.
  • At the special exhibition “100 Years of Le Mans” as part of the Motorsport Rendezvous (13 to 15 September 2023), Mercedes-Benz will unite two race winners: the 300 SL racing sports car (W 194) that won the endurance classic in France in 1952 and the Sauber-Mercedes C 9 that contributed a second place to the Silver Arrows’ double victory in 1989.
  • A Mercedes-Benz 280 SL “Pagoda” (W 113) dating from 1968 will take part in the Bernina Gran Turismo hill climb (14 to 17 September 2023).
  • On 14 September 2023, the Mercedes-Benz evening will take place at the “Paradiso” mountain hut.

Varied programme

The St. Moritz Automobile Weeks of 1929 and 1930 already included a kilometre race, a Concours d’Elegance and, as the highlight, the Bernina Gran Turismo. The Kilomètre Lancé of 2023 will take place according to the historical model, but at a different location: on the 1.8-kilometre runway of Engadin Airport, 1,707 metres above sea level. This is where the drivers can demonstrate the acceleration and speed of their classics. Whether they actually go to the performance limits of their cars is of course up to them. The lineup of vehicles is certainly spectacular. At the Motorsport Rendezvous, exclusive vehicles from motor racing history are on display, flanked by modern luxury vehicles. The Bernina Gran Turismo has been held since 2014, as a hill climb for classic motor sports vehicles from the pre- and post-war period up to 1990. As part of the current International St. Moritz Automobile Week, it takes place on a closed section of the original track: there are more than 50 bends and 450 metres of altitude to be negotiated over the 5.7 kilometres from La Rösa to the top of the pass.

1929: Victory by the Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460 Special Sports Cabriolet “St. Moritz” (W 08)

Mercedes-Benz already participated in the first St. Moritz Automobile Week in 1929 with an impressive vehicle: based on the noble Nürburg 460 (W 08) presented in 1928, the company developed a four-seater “Special Sports Cabriolet” with short wheelbase and successfully presented it at the Concours d’Elegance at the time. It achieved “the best rating of all the cars among the most renowned international brands presented there”, according to the original brochure. Following this success, this version of the Nürburg 460 Cabriolet C was given the name “St. Moritz”. The brochure described the car as follows: “With its great artistic verve in the exterior lines, the extremely harmonious choice of colours, the dignified yet extraordinarily elegant interior design, this cabriolet has quickly become a distinctly prestigious car amongst truly discerning, knowledgeable motorists.” The Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460 was the brand’s first vehicle with an eight-cylinder engine.

The Mercedes-Benz Classic brand ambassador at the 2023 International St. Moritz Automobile Week

Bernd Mayländer
Born on 29 May 1971 in Waiblingen, Germany

Bernd Mayländer regularly drives ahead of the field in Formula One. The former racing driver has been the official driver of the Formula One safety cars provided by Mercedes-AMG and Aston Martin since 2000. Mayländer began racing in 1990, initially competing in Porsche Club Sport, the Porsche Carrera Cup (overall victory in 1994), the Porsche Supercup and endurance races. Driving for the Persson Motorsport team, starting in 1995, he initially participated in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) and the International Touring Car Championship (ITC). From 1997, he drove a Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR in the FIA GT Championship. In 1997, Mayländer won the race in Spielberg together with Klaus Ludwig and Bernd Schneider. In 2000, he took first place in the Nürburgring 24-hour race in a Porsche 996 GT3. In 2001, he won the final race of the DTM season on the old Hockenheim Grand Prix circuit, driving a Mercedes-Benz AMG CLK DTM. Bernd Mayländer competed in his last DTM season in 2004, as a member of the Rosberg team driving a Mercedes-Benz C-Class DTM.

Mercedes-Benz Classic cars at the 2023 International St. Moritz Automobile Week

Mercedes-Benz 540 K Streamliner (W 29), 1938

The 540 K Streamliner was developed in 1937/38 in the special car construction department of the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen. From today’s perspective, the vehicle would be described as a coupé in the style of a Gran Turismo. But in keeping with the conventions of the 1930s, stylists call the body shape a streamlined saloon or simply the Streamliner. Based on the chassis of the 540 K production car, the vehicle was built to reach very high speeds quickly and maintain them over longer distances with its powerful supercharged engine. Thanks to the lightweight aluminium body developed in the wind tunnel, this one-off was a model of efficiency in its performance class. In addition to lightweight construction and sophisticated aerodynamics, it was also the outstanding exterior and interior design, the dignified finish and the generous interior comfort that made the 540 K Streamliner an absolutely singular vehicle. At the time it was created with the potential of taking part in the long-distance Berlin-Rome tour planned for autumn 1938, which was initially postponed until 1939 and finally cancelled altogether owing to the start of the Second World War. From mid-1938, the Streamliner was used by the German subsidiary of tyre manufacturer Dunlop to subject high-speed tyres for fast vehicles to punishing everyday testing. After the war, it was put into storage. In 2014, Mercedes-Benz Classic meticulously rebuilt the vehicle to its original state as part of a highly demanding and elaborate restoration project. The subsequently measured drag coefficient was Cd = 0.36. This is an excellent value for a 1930s car.

Technical data of the Mercedes-Benz 540 K Streamliner (W 29)

Production year: 1938
Cylinders: 8/in-line
Displacement: 5,401 cc
Output: 85 kW (115 hp), with supercharger 132 kW (180 hp)
Top speed: 185 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing sports car (W 194), 1952

Mercedes-Benz re-entered motor racing in 1952 with the 300 SL (W 194). The limited resources initially spoke against the development of a racing car for Formula One in 1952 because new regulations had already been announced for the 1954 season. Axles, transmission and engine of the new racing car were developed from components stemming from the Mercedes-Benz 300 (W 186) representation vehicle. A brand new feature is an extremely lightweight, yet very torsionally stiff tubular frame, which is enclosed by a streamlined light-alloy body. As a result of the elevated tubular frame around the doors, the racing car was equipped with characteristic gullwing doors, which were hinged on the roof. In 1952, the 300 SL was successful from the outset: amongst its major racing victories were the one-two-three victory at the Grand Prix of Bern (Switzerland), spectacular one-two finishes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (France) and at the Carrera Panamericana in Mexico as well as the top four positions in the Nürburgring Jubilee Grand Prix. The Le Mans winning car of 1952 belongs to a private collector.

Technical data of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing sports car (W 194)

Deployment: 1952
Cylinders: 6/in-line
Displacement: 2,996 cc
Output: 125 kW (170 hp) at 5,200 rpm
Top speed: 240 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé (W 198), 1955

In February 1954, the 300 SL series production sports car (W 198) celebrated its world premiere at the International Motor Sport Show in New York. The Coupé was called the “Gullwing” or the “Papillon” (butterfly) owing to its distinctive roof-mounted doors, which resembled a gull’s wings. However, the solution is not an aesthetic end in itself, but technically necessary. This was because the tubular roll cage was so high at the sills that conventional door designs were simply not possible. The high-performance sports car was based on the legendary 300 SL racing sports car (W 194) from the 1952 season. The enhanced W 198 was the world’s first series production passenger car with a four-stroke engine and direct petrol injection. With an engine output of 158 kW (215 hp) – a good 25 per cent more than the carburettor motor racing version of 1952 – and a top speed of up to 250 km/h, the W 198 was in the top echelon of production sports cars in its day, which also predestined it for racing. The triple class victory with the 300 SL “Gullwing” at the Mille Miglia 1955 by John Cooper Fitch and co-driver Kurt Gessl is legendary. From 1954 to 1957, a total of 1,400 units of the 300 SL Coupé were built, 29 of them with an aluminium body.

Technical data of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé (W 198)

Production year: 1955
Cylinders: 6/in-line
Displacement: 2,996 cc
Output: 158 kW (215 hp) at 5,800 rpm
Top speed: Up to 250 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 280 SL “Pagoda” (W 113), 1968

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the new 230 SL (W 113) at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show. It was designed as a comfortable, high-performance two-seater touring car and replaced both the 190 SL (W 121) and the 300 SL Roadster (W 198). The exterior was characterised by clean, straight lines and the SL front end with a large, central Mercedes star. The optional hardtop with its high windows and concave roof shape supported by slim pillars was reminiscent of Asian temples, which quickly earned the W 113 the nickname “Pagoda”. The floor assembly was based on the Mercedes-Benz “Tailfin” saloons of the 111 series, the world’s first passenger cars with a safety bodyshell. This generation of the SL also benefited from corresponding research. The suspension adopted from the Mercedes-Benz 220 SE Saloon was tuned to the requirements of the new, sporty model. The suspension was firm, and at the same time unusually comfortable for a sports car at the time. In 1967, the Mercedes-Benz 250 SL replaced the 230 SL. The changes were mainly to the engine and brake system. In addition to the three familiar body variants (roadster with a folding soft top, coupé with a removable hard top and coupé with removable hard top and roadster soft top), the 250 SL was also optionally available as a coupé with a rear bench seat. The Mercedes-Benz 280 SL with a 2.8-litre engine and an output of 125 kW (170 hp), introduced in 1968, was the last version of this SL. From 1963 to 1971, a total of 48,912 SLs of the W 113 series were produced.

Technical data of the Mercedes-Benz 280 SL “Pagoda” (W 113)

Production year: 1968
Cylinders: 6/in-line
Displacement: 2,778 cc
Output: 125 kW (170 hp)
Top speed: 200 km/h

Sauber-Mercedes C 9 Group C racing sports car, 1989

The late 1980s were marked by the return of Mercedes-Benz to the race track: Group C racing cars were the first to bear the three-pointed star. The Sauber Mercedes C 9s, mainly in use in dark blue livery since 1987, also undergo a visual change for the 1989 season: from now on, they were painted in silver to clearly identify them as Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows. In 1989 alone, the new racing cars emerged victorious in eight out of nine races. One of these was the Le Mans 24-hour race on 10 and 11 June 1989: Mercedes-Benz drivers Jochen Mass/Manuel Reuter/Stanley Dickens and Mauro Baldi/Kenny Acheson/Gianfranco Brancatelli raced to a one-two finish in the two C 9 Silver Arrows – 37 years after the outstanding success with the first Silver Arrows of the post-war era, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing car (W 194). At the end of the season, Jean-Louis Schlesser, driving the C 9, won the driver’s title in the Sports Car World Championship. In St. Moritz, Mercedes-Benz Classic is presenting the original second-placed C 9 with start number 61.

Technical data of the Sauber-Mercedes C 9 Group C racing sports car

Deployment: 1987 to 1990
Cylinders: V8
Displacement: 4,973 cc
Output: 530 kW (720 hp) at 7,000 rpm
Top speed: 400 km/h