Before Ferdinand Porsche started his eponymous sports car company, he worked as a designer for Mercedes-Benz. The Mercedes-Benz SSK was the last car Porsche designed before leaving Mercedes. The SSK was produced from 1928 to 1930 and fewer than 40 were built. Only a few completely original SSKs remain today, so the car is extremely valuable – a 1929 model was sold in 2004 for $7.4 million.
Based on the Mercedes-Benz S, with a shorter chassis and a supercharged straight-six engine, the SSK was the fastest car of its time and dominated the racetrack in the late 20s and early 30s. (A supercharger is an air compressor that increases the pressure of the air supplied to the engine, allowing it to burn more fuel and produce more power.)
Perhaps the most famous SSK of all is the 1930 710SSK Carlo Trossi Roadster owned by Ralph Lauren. Commissioned by Italian Count and racecar driver Carlo Felice Trossi, who sketched the design himself, this stunning car’s body was built in Italy by a man named Willy White. With a massive hood and a sweeping, curved back end, this SSK is the rarest example of an already incredibly rare car. And it’s won Best of Show at two of the world’s most prestigious car shows, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California and the Concorso D’Eleganza Villa D’Este in Italy.
In this video, you can see an SSK on the track and hear the unique sound of the compressor kicking in.