A 1930 Mercedes SS Cabriolet once owned by the last ruling Maharaja of Kashmir was recently taken on a spin, giving us a trip down memory lane. Its latest journey reveals a rich history and a rather unorthodox configuration for a vintage ride.
A Glimpse into the past
Way back in history, around a hundred years ago, the Mercedes-Benz S, SS, and SSK were the must-haves of affluent personalities like industrialists, Hollywood celebrities, and heads of state. While Rolls-Royce and Packard cars sat on top of the luxury automobile hierarchy of that era, these Mercedes masterpieces offered an appealing alternative for those who wanted a mix of performance in their vehicles.
These goodies from Mercedes were notably made by the father of Porsche, Ferdinand Porsche, before he ventured into his own company. Back then, they were a staple in hill climbs and races.
Maharaja Hari Singh happened to be a fan of these models, so he commissioned the construction of a bespoke Mercedes SS Sport Cabriolet in the 1930s to be partnered with his beloved yacht. However, automotive journalist Basem Wasef claims he was “not much of a driver.” Because of that, this particular car only had a little mileage and housed an unconventional setup in its cockpit.
Unorthodox Driving Specification
The right-hand-drive vintage auto was personalized to cater to the maharajah’s whims, including repositioning the gas and brake pedals. This puts the accelerator on the middle pedal and the brake on the right.
For Basem, this is an accident waiting to happen for those who are unfamiliar with its unusual workings. He recounted the story of one owner who just restored his car from a bygone era and allowed his banker to drive it, only for the latter to smash it into a wall.
The auto expert also noted the challenge the vehicle poses due to its non-synchronized gearbox. This condition raises its tendency to grind gears even when the driver tries to double clutch and match the rev with each shift.
The 1930 Mercedes SS Cabriolet packs a 7.1-liter supercharged straight-six engine. Mercedes-Benz Heritage head Marcus Breitschwerdt estimates the vehicle to cost no less than $25 million in today’s money, emphasizing its colorful history, originality, and exclusivity as his basis for appraisal.
Breitschwerdt said only 111 examples of the Mercedes SS were manufactured from 1928 to 1933.
Where is the 1930 Mercedes SS Cabriolet Now?
Currently, the 1930 Mercedes SS Cabriolet featured here is in the care of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Around 95% of its parts are authentic while the rest, especially the leather upholstery, have already been updated during its lifetime.
The vintage car was recently flown in California at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center to be showcased to automotive enthusiasts. It was joined by 18 classic cars to serve as a treat to the audience.
The 1930 Mercedes SS Cabriolet shown here serves as a testament to the evolution of high-performance, luxury automobiles over the century. It also displays how early tuners have sometimes gone to great lengths to tailor their specs to the varying preferences of owners — no matter how eccentric they may be.