Mercedes Benz SS Spezialcabriolet 1934

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The Mercedes SS-special convertible as a measuring car


When it opened in 1921, the AVUS was the first street in the world on which only vehicles were allowed to drive. In 1932 the ‘Motorway’ Cologne-Bonn was opened to traffic. Concrete plans for further motorways existed before the National Socialists took power in 1933. With a law dated June 27, 1933, Hitler made the planned motorway construction a task of the state. Mr. Willy Hof was responsible for the construction of those motorways. On November 24, 1933, Mr. Hof ordered a convertible with an SS chassis with 27/160 / 200PS (No. 36345, engine No. 72766) from Daimler-Benz AG. This chassis (already manufactured in 1931) was passed on to Erdmann & Rossi Berlin for bodywork.


Erdmann & Rossi (1898 - 1949) was a Berlin body construction company that became known in the first half of the 20th century primarily for its individual luxury bodies. Borrowings from aircraft construction, flowing lines, aerodynamic design, extremely high quality workmanship - Erdmann & Rossi were far ahead of their time at the time. The individual bodies were / are unique and world famous!


This extraordinary convertible was shown for the first time at the Berlin Motor Show in 1934. The colour was light grey. The rear with the two spare tires was very expressive. Therefore, the British and American visitors christened the Cabriolet ‘Penguin’. Streamline expert Professor Emil August Everling was instrumental in the design of the special convertible.


In 1934, Mr. Hof and his drivers travelled to northern Italy. At that time there were already motorway-like roads. These had to be measured and tested! The goal was to learn from Italy. The Cabriolet was equipped with appropriate measuring devices. It raced across the road at 200km / h in order to gain experience with cross winds. Due to the poor road conditions and the enormous speed, the tires often burst. In addition, the full coverage of the rear wheels did not allow ventilation and therefore cooling of the tires. This also caused the brakes to overheat. The biggest problem, however, was the extremely high speed! The other road users were not prepared for a car to come rushing from behind at such a speed. As a result, there were some accidents, which luckily went very lightly.


The special cabriolet was rebuilt several times by Erdmann & Rossi. It also received the warning colour 'orange'. In the last conversion stage, white stripes were even applied to the car. For this reason, the German engineers lovingly christened the car 'The Parrot'. After successfully completing the test drives in Italy, Mr. Hof undertook further test drives in Germany with the Cabriolet. He crashed with the SS special convertible on the Reichsautobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt. It was the same route on which Bernd Rosemeyer had a fatal accident in 1938.

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