Just two years after the first Mercedes-Benz automobile rolled off of the lineup, the newly joined team of Mercedes and Benz dove into the emerging sports car industry. Sports cars of the 1920s were nothing like they are today, but they were just as relatively advanced as today’s sports cars are to today’s econo-boxes.
This Mercedes-Benz sports car, dubbed the 680S Saoutchik Torpedo, was a marvel of its era, as it featured a perfect mixture of styling from various classes and areas. It was not only a sports car, but a luxury car too. In addition, it was a perfect combination of German engineering and French design, having been designed by Jaques Saoutchik.
To boot, it was the fastest sports car in the world at the time, making it a deadly combination. It’s no wonder that it just won the “Best of Show” award at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Click past the jump to read our full review of the Mercedes 680S Saoutchik Torpedo.
Body and Chassis
The Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo boasts the traditional look of the era, featuring large front wheel wells, circular exposed headlight assemblies, and a stylish exposed radiator. Atop the radiator cap is the obligatory Mercedes-Benz emblem. It also boasted the cab rearward seating position popular of the era, which can make driving in traffic a little hairy.
Where the Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo differs from cars of the era is that its body is all aluminum and its front fenders are formed in a swooping manner, allowing air to flow over them more effectively. In addition, it has a lower-slunk body, in general, lacks running boards, and features a low windscreen. These are the main features that classified it as a sports car in the 1920s.
The super-long hood features a butterfly-style opening system and a large leather strap to keep it closed. A spare tire rests on either side of the car, just behind each hood door. As you proceed rearward, you finally come to the very compact cabin, then the rear end quickly dives downward toward the rear bumper. The rear quarter of this vintage Benz also features aerodynamic rear wheel wells and a two-piece rear bumper.
On all four corners, the Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo boasts solid dish wheels to help wind flow over easier.
A unique feature to the Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo is that its convertible top completely disappears when it is folded.
The chassis includes a steel frame sitting on a rigid front axle with semi-elliptical springs on the front and an under-slung live axle with semi-elliptical springs on the rear. The front and rear suspension systems boast friction dampers to keep the ride as smooth as possible – for a 1920’s car. This 4,189-pound Mercedes is ground to a halt, using 4-wheel drum brakes.
Engine and Drivetrain
Under that massive hood is a 6,788 cc (414 cubic-inch) gasoline engine that remarkably features only six cylinders in a straight line. This massive 6-banger features a SOHC format and two valves per cylinder. Feeding the engine its a pair of carburetors and a Roots stepped supercharger. This massive 6-pot pumps out an impressive-for-the-era 180 horsepower at 3,000 rpm.
The engine transfers power to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. We guarantee that this is not an easy car to drive, given its old systems and heavy weight.
This engine is capable of propelling this massive sports car to a top speed of about 110.6 mph. In an era chock-full of 60 mph top speed cars, for a car to exceed 100 mph was impressive.
The interior of the Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo was a thing of beauty for its era. It boasts reptile-skin seats – the type of reptile is not specified, scary – and intricate wood accents throughout. An enormous wood-rimmed steering wheel sits in front of the driver to help him navigate this land yacht.
As with every classic and vintage car, it is only worth how much someone is willing to pay you for it. A good reference point is the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance “Best of Show” winner, chassis No. 40156, which sold for $3,645,000 in 2006, then again for €2,100,000 ($3,095,026 at the average exchange rate in February 2008).
We are sure with it winning “Best of Show,” the overall worth of all 18 examples of the Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo will go up significantly and this chassis in particular will skyrocket.
With only18 models in existence, this is one of the rarest and most desired Mercedes-Benz models available today, but adding in a Pebble Beach Concours top honor and this model is almost invaluable. For its era, it was a screamer and did not meet its match for many, many years. What a fantastic car that we would love to have in the TopSpeed garage!
- Fantastic design
- Awesome power for its era
- Top speed of 110 mph is amazing at the time
- Phew, that’s a lot of money
- Extremely long hood likely makes it tough to drive
- You’ll never see one roaming in the wild
62nd Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Names 1928 Mercedes-Benz “Best of Show”
THE COMPETITION SHOWCASED 220 CARS FROM 33 STATES AND 15 COUNTRIES
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (August 19, 2012) — A 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo owned by Paul & Judy Andrews of White Settlement, Texas, was named Best of Show at the 62nd Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, held Sunday on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links. The event showcased 220 cars from 33 states and 15 countries and raised $1,077,220 for charity.
“I’m not sure I can put into words how I feel,” said Paul Andrews, founder and CEO of TTI. “It’s probably the most wonderful feeling I’ve had in my life. It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people. We’re all excited. We’re tickled to death.”
Of his car, he said, “It’s the whole package. There’s not a bad line on this car. It was the sports car, the high performance car of its era, and then Saoutchik gave it style and grace. It has power and it has beauty.”
Jacques Saoutchik made seven avant-garde Torpedo bodies for the Mercedes-Benz 680S chassis, each differing in their details. The combination of chrome accents and low windshield make this car, shown first at the 1928 New York Auto Show, both a sports car and a luxury touring car.
“This car really has everything,” said Concours Chairman Sandra Button. “It has fantastic German engineering, elegant French styling, and a wonderful restoration by Paul Russell. It’s a car you can imagine racing as well as touring. It’s just a marvelous embodiment of everything that is Mercedes-Benz.”
The judging process at the Pebble Beach Concours is two-fold: Class Judges focus primarily on originality and authenticity, while Honorary Judges direct their attention to design, styling and elegance. To be eligible to win Best of Show—the event’s top award—a car must first win its class.
Other nominees for Best of Show included a 1935 Duesenberg J Gurney-Nutting Speedster owned by the William Lyon Family of Newport Beach, California; a 1931 Duesenberg J Derham Tourster owned by Joseph and Margie Cassini III, of West Orange, New Jersey; and a 1933 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Figoni Coupé owned by David and Adele Cohen of West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
In addition to Saoutchik Coachwork, the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance featured Maharaja Cars, Mercer, Fiat, Mercedes SLs, Sport Customs and German Motorcycles.
Tonight Show host Jay Leno made a guest appearance at the event, offering tickets to his show and tours of his Big Dog Garage, raising over $50,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County. The previous evening, at the Pebble Beach Auction presented by Gooding & Company, Leno’s Fiat 500 Prima Edizione, initially valued at $25,000 to 35,000, sold for $385,000 and attracted an additional $215,000, raising a total of $600,000 for the Fisher House Foundation. Also in attendance were Steve Carrell, George Lucas, Adrien Brody and Adam Carolla.
The 63rd Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will take place on Sunday, August 18, 2013.