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July 30, 2012

Die-cast car: CMC 1931 Mercedes-Benz SSKL

by Mark Savage

CMC recreates a legend with 1931 Mille Miglia-winning Mercedes SSKL

Legends have made auto racing though the years and Germany’s CMC delivers three-in-one with its latest die-cast model, the 1931 Mille Miglia-winning Mercedes-Benz SSKL. The Mille Miglia, a 1,000-mile race up and down Italy’s country roads from 1927-57 was the ultimate endurance race of the day. Mercedes itself began building its racing reputation at that same time. Couple those facts with that of legendary Rudolf Caracciola (Real first name was Otto; he was German) driving the SSKL (the White Elephant) to victory in the 1931 race, and you have the triple wammy of fame, an iconic brand and racing history.

The car was the ultimate sporty roadster of the day, although a massive machine by today’s racing standards. The white monster featured a 300-horse supercharged in-line six-cylinder engine, back in the day when engines were up front and weighed a ton, almost literally.

Engine detail is fantastic, adding to this model’s realism.

Caracciola’s win, the first by a non-Italian in the Mille Miglia, was legendary in several other ways too. Mercedes, suffering through tough economic times in the late 1920s and early ’30s, scaled back its racing effort and Caracciola had to enter the Mille Miglia as a private entrant. Mercedes provided a five-person crew, three technicians, co-driver/mechanic Wilhelm Sebastian and Alfred Neubeuer, the car maker’s chief of racing. His main competition, Alfa-Romeo, has 90 mechanics on its team.

As the race neared its end Caracciola pressed the three leading Alfas hard as they ran in a group. But at a bend two of them spun off and Caracciola put the Mercedes in the lead. Yet 20 miles from the finish he blew a tire and he and his mechanic had to quickly repair it before an Alfa caught him. Caracciola and Mercedes prevailed, elevating both to legendary status.

Check out the spokes on the CMC wheels.

Performance: You need look no further than the wire spoke wheels on CMC’s Mercedes to know this model epitomizes superb craftsmanship. Each stainless steel spoke is attached to the wheel rim with a nipple stem, something I’ve never seen on a 1:18 model.

That’s just the beginning. The car features dozens of holes that were bored into the real racer’s frame to cut weight (the L in SSKL standing for Light). Those holes cut 275 lbs. from the real monster racer.

Underneath is a highly detailed and working leaf-spring suspension and you can see the massive 6-cylinder engine. Real leather straps hold down the white hood panels that fold up to reveal the fully-plumbed engine with Mercedes engraved on the block.

Even the tool kit here is realistic and includes tools the mechanic most likely would need in any race.

Small metal clasps also hold the hood down and on the passenger’s side three giant exhaust pipes exit into the larger pipe that runs under the car. Next to the passenger/mechanic’s seat there’s a tray outside the car that carries a tiny wooden toolbox, and yes it opens to reveal a couple screwdrivers, wrenches and a mallet. Next to the toolbox is a fuel can with metal chain to hold the cap and leather straps to keep it on the car.

Other tiny details?

The miniature Mercedes is made of 1,885 parts, including a split windshield with 3-sided metal frame that folds up or down flat to the body. There also are two spare tires (Caracciola needed those!) on what we’d now consider the trunk lid, with a lever that unscrews so you can take the tires off. Plus the four main Dunlop tires all are attached by wing nuts that easily unscrew.

Inside, the cockpit is sparse, but has black leather seats and four-spoke steering wheel, a wood-look dash, with authentic looking gauges and giant stick shift and brake levers.

Finale: Who wouldn’t want this car, or any other CMC model. These are the primo diecast cars on the market today. You put this in your collection’s showcase for the same reason Chevrolet dealers have a bright shiny Corvette in their showrooms. This is an attention getter and conversation starter!

Go to Racing Heroes to purchase this and other miniture Mercedes.

Vital Stats:1931 Mercedes-Benz SSKL

Maker: CMC

Scale: 1:18

Stock No.: M-055

MSRP: $249 original (On eBay and other sites it approaches $300)

Rating: 5 stars

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