Mercedes Benz 220SE Fintail In Competition
Three-car 220SE works team at the 1963 Acropolis Rally, which it dominated in the early 1960s. Image: Mercedes-Benz Classic
In this edition of our series of stories from the Shannons Club, we take a look at a classic rally machine from Mercedes, and its adventures in the ’60s.
The Mercedes Benz 220SE Fintail may not seem like an obvious candidate for a story on the three-pointed star’s greatest competition cars, given the marque’s glorious pre and post-war ‘Silver Arrow’ grand prix and sports cars.
However, this humble 2.2 litre six cylinder sedan proved to be a formidable works rally car and circuit racer in the early 1960s – both in Europe and Australia.
The reason it was thrust into the motor racing spotlight can be traced back to 1955. The dominant Mercedes Benz works team withdrew from Formula One and the World Sports Car Championship at the end of that tragic season, in which one of its cars was involved in a fiery crash at the Le Mans 24 Hour race that killed 83 spectators.
Obviously rattled, Daimler-Benz’s board of directors imposed a blanket ban on all employees getting involved in any form of motor sport. However, given its rich competition heritage, petrol continued to flow through the corporate veins.
It wasn’t long before the ban was lifted, but rather than return to the race track the famous Stuttgart firm changed course for 1956 and decided to concentrate on rallying as its new competitive outlet.
The emphasis would be on using standard production cars, to show the world how Mercedes Benz design and engineering could conquer some of the worst roads and conditions imaginable.
Image via Mercedes-Benz Classic