After 2 successful seasons winning two SCCA Class D Production (DP) championships the Mercedes Benz supplied team of George D Tilp and driver Paul O’Shea were hoping to make it a threepeat even though they were planning on swapping from the 300 SL Gullwing to the new for ’57 300 SL Roadster model.
However the SCCA would not mandate running the 300SL Roadster in the DP class in 1957 on the grounds that insufficient numbers of the Roadster had been built.
To get around this problem the Mercedes Benz Rennabteilung built two special lightweight SLS Roadsters for George Tilp to run in the SCCA class D modified for Paul O’Shea.
Despite sending George Tilp two cars, two Mercedes Benz race mechanics, Erwin Strupp and Karl Bunz with a container load of spares, the plan was to run only one car to give the operation the semblance of a privateer effort, however after Paul crashed one car at Thompson Connecticut and turned up six days later with an apparently completely repaired car at Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin the cat was out of the bag that George Tilp had two cars at his disposal for Paul.
Paul went on to threepeat his and Mercedes Benz third SCCA class championship and the two SLS Roadsters were returned to the Mercedes Benz factory where they were scrapped, allegedly over fears the lightweight bodies would deteriorate.
Subsequently numerous SLS variations have appeared most notably Chuck Porter built and raced one very successfully, where the second S stood for scrap, from a burned out Gullwing that closely resembled the 1955 300 SLR’s, several roadsters have also been converted to Tilp / O’Shea SLS replica’s more recently using 300 SL Roadster donor cars, including one by Kienle Automobiltechnik, in Heimerdingen, Germany.
Today’s featured replica seen at Goodwood Festival of Speed with Indy Legend Dario Franchitti at the wheel, was converted to SLS spec by Mercedes Benz who used one of their former test 300 SL Roadsters as a starting point.
My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for information on his Uncle George Tilp’s racing team.
Thanks for joining me on this “D Modified” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a triumph of presence over elegance. Don’t for get to come back now !