Home Lamborghini Miura the works / Georges Houel Mercedes-Benz W198 300 SL Gullwing chassis 5500640 — Supercar Nostalgia

the works / Georges Houel Mercedes-Benz W198 300 SL Gullwing chassis 5500640 — Supercar Nostalgia

the works / Georges Houel Mercedes-Benz W198 300 SL Gullwing chassis 5500640 — Supercar Nostalgia


History of chassis 198.040.5500640

Chassis 198.040.5500640 was the first of four steel-bodied 300 SL Gullwings specially prepared by the Mercedes-Benz competition department for assessment during 1955. Steel as opposed to aluminium-bodied variants were selected on account of their greater robustness which was an important consideration given the type of gruelling road rallies that were expected to be undertaken by Gullwing owners.

Delivered to the Sportabteilung headquarters on August 27th 1955 (ten days after completion), chassis ‘5500640’ was enhanced with a specially enhanced motor that featured an uprated camshaft, venturis, fuel-injection pump and exhaust plus ventilated drum brakes and an enlarged oil tank. Other equipment included lowered ride height, Rudge wheels and a 3.48:1 axle ratio.

After 13 months with the competition department, during which time ‘5500640’ was most likely tested by an array of Mercedes’ factory drivers, the car was sold to Bernard Hans Hommel in order for his friend Georges Houel to contest the 1956 Tour de France. In something of a coup, Houel had convinced Stirling Moss to come on board for the seven-day contest; Moss agreed so long as he would do the driving and Houel would act as navigator.

Although a troublesome ignition system led to severe misfiring which hampered their early progress, once rectified Moss and Houel roared back through the order and, having won the Montlhery test, they ultimately finished the marathon event second overall behind the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta of Alfonso de Portago / Ed Nelson. Just 37 of the 103 starters made the finish in Paris.

Afterwards, Georges Houel went on to use the trick 300 SL in three more events before the end of the year; he placed third overall in the 16 lap Coupes du Salon for GT and Touring cars at Montlhery and then bagged a brace of fifth place finishes alongside navigator Sacazan in the Rallye d’Automne La Rochelle and Tour de Corse.

1957 proved less successful for Houel and the Mercedes. Chassis ‘5500640’ failed to finish on any of its four outings and for 1958 Houel began to compete with a less complex Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ.

By the late 1950s the Gullwing was in the possession of a Mr Besnies who in turn sold it to the French MB importer, Mercedes Archambeaud.

In 1966 chassis ‘5500640’ found its way into the possession of a family that retained it for over 50 years and eventually put the car through a painstaking restoration back to its 1956 Tour de France trim.

Notable History

17/08/1955 completed

17/08/1955 delivered to the Mercedes-Benz competition department

Registered 226 Z 4886

09/1956 sold to Bernard Hans Hommel, France

23/09/1956 Tour de France (S. Moss / G. Houel) 2nd oa, 2nd ST / GTM class (#149)
07/10/1956 Coupes du Salon, Montlhery (G. Houel) 3rd oa, 3rd T/GT 3.5 class (#29)
04/11/1956 Rallye d’Automne La Rochelle (G. Houel / Sacazan) 5th oa (#??)
18/11/1956 Tour de Corse (G. Houel / Sacazan) 5th oa (#66)

01/03/1957 Rally Sestriere (G. Houel / ??) DNF (#??)
14/07/1957 Reims 12 Hours (G. Houel / C. Menditeguy) DNF (#??)
28/10/1957 Rallye des 6 Heures de Saint Cloud (G. Houel / ??) DNF (#??)
??/??/1957 Rallye Andorra-Monaco (G. Houel / ??) DNF (#??)

Late 1950s sold on

Text copyright: Supercar Nostalgia
Photo copyright: Mercedes-Benz –



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