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Rare Mercedes-Benz 500 Rally Joins Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance World Rally Car Class

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Filed under Automotive, Jacksonville, FL, Mercedes-Benz

Exciting news from our friends at The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance:

RARE MERCEDES-BENZ 500 SL RALLY JOINS 20TH ANNUAL AMELIA ISLAND CONCOURS d’ELEGANCE WORLD RALLY CAR CLASS

Jacksonville, FL (February 5, 2015) – The 20th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will showcase a lone Mercedes-Benz factory rally car that never competed in the World Championship but was specially built for two-time World Rally Champion Walter Rohrl in 1980.

1980 500 SL Mercedes-Benz Classic - Credit Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC

The Mercedes-Benz SLs have earned a well-deserved reputation as civilized, high speed, high-comfort grand touring coupes with the emphasis on speed and comfort. The Mercedes-Benz SL family is the antithesis of the typical smaller, radically modified versions of  mass produced economy cars or the specially created, single purpose (sometimes single use) cars that have become common in the World Championship rallying.

All Mercedes-Benz’s SLs – for “super light” – descend from the iconic 1952 Le Mans 24-hour winning 300 SL coupes with their signature “gullwing” doors. The philosophy that created world class racing grand touring cars was a solid foundation for a world championship-class rally car.

In 1978 Hannu Mikkola’s 450 SLC won the brutal Bandama Rally for Mercedes-Benz on Africa’s Ivory Coast. Bjorn Waldegard followed up with another Mercedes SLC Bandama victory in 1979, all clearing a path to the 500 SL Rally’s role in the World Championship.

The 500 SL Rally is a one-off prototype intended for the 1981 World Rally Championship. With a shortened wheelbase, 220-pound weight reduction and a modified 5-liter 320 hp V-8 light alloy engine, the 500 SL Rally was an improved, refined and more powerful version of the 1979 and 1980 Bandama winners. It was never permitted to fulfill its intended mission when Mercedes-Benz ceased its rallying activates at the end of the 1980 season.

After duty as a test and reconnaissance car for the Bandama Rally, the 500 SL Rally was assigned to Scuderia Kassel, a German dealer team, for the 1982 and 1983 German Rally Championship.

“It’s an unexpected treat to have this extraordinarily rare Mercedes-Benz on the field; the 500 SL Rally is a radically different take on the entire rally car ethos,” said Mark Becker, Vice-Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. “You can tell that there’s Le Mans and Mille Miglia DNA in the 500 SL Rally’s veins from the days when world championship sports car racing was a pure blood ancestor of today’s open-road rally championship.”

The unique Mercedes-Benz 500 SL Rally will join a small and exotic fleet of rally championship Lancias and Porsches on Amelia’s 20th anniversary field on March 15, 2015.

The 2015 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will be held March 13-15th on the 10th and 18th fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.  The show’s Foundation has donated over $2.5 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc. and other charities on Florida’s First Coast since its inception in 1996. In 2013 the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance won Octane Magazine’s EFG International Historic Motoring Event of the Year award.

About the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Now in its second decade, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world.  Always held the second full weekend in March, “Amelia” draws over 300 rare vehicles from collections around the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island for a celebration of the automobile like no other. The 20th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 13-15, 2015.  For more information, visitwww.ameliaconcours.org

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