One of the most revered sports cars in the world is the SSK, and this one features the most dramatic body of them all. It’s nicknamed after Carlo Trossi who was its first owner and had close connections to the industry. In fact, he had the foresight to be an initial investor of Scuderia Ferrari and later became the team’s President.
Trossi knew where to get the best cars in the world and he purchased an SSK when it was a sports car of choice. They were designed by Ferdinand Porsche and became known as White Elephants for their brute force. The series started with the 1927 Type 680 S and matured with the shortened 720 SSK. They had a brilliant racing career and were praised for their famous history. Only five original SSKs survive today and each is a ‘holy grail’ among car collectors.
While most of the SSKs featured purposeful bodywork and cycle fenders for competition, a few were sent to the premier design houses to be fitted with an elegant body. Our feature car was purchased by Trossi after its competition career was over and he sent it, chassis number 36038, to Willie White who fashioned a body of steel. White was a relatively unknown coachbuilder and he formed the body to Trossi’s design which probably explains why the car is simply known as the Trossi Roadster.
The most noticeable feature of the body is its teardrop profile which is emphasized extended fenders that have accent lines along their highest edge. The split wind shield is well integrated and mimics the front radiator’s angle. The hood’s trailing edge is also shaped to match the rake of windscreen and meet up to its base. Whether these features were designed by Willie White or Carlo Trossi, they were trend setting and later adopted by French design houses.
The cabin has no doors, but once inside the occupants are treated to custom dash board complemented by a huge Mercedes-Benz steering wheel. Most of the dials are standard Mercedes-Benz fare, except for a Jaeger ammeter. The speedometer still contains the same markings used by Count Trossi to keep track of engine rpm.
Behind 18 inch wheels sit huge copper brake drums that were originally designed to aid brake cooling. These wheels may have been originally red, but were changed to better match the elegance of the design. This is also true of the upholstery color which was green, but is now black.
Underneath the hood is an engine that completely fills the bay. Displacing nearly seven liters, the inline-six provides a full 300bhp thanks to an ‘elephant’ supercharger that came straight from the special SSKL. Like them, the forced induction is stepped and only engages when the accelerator is fully pressed. It translates into 300bhp at 3400rpm and 507lb ft lbs at 2000 rpm! It’s a wonder that any brakes, yet alone pre-war drums would be able to cope with the forces of such power and two tons of weight.
Supposedly, Count Trossi bought and sold this car several times from when he first registered it in 1932 through 1949. It eventually ended up with Ralph Lauren who had it comprehensively restored by Paul Russel and company. After 5000 work hours and two years, the car debuted at the 1993 Pebble Beach Concours where it won Best In Show. The car doubled this trick and it’s price tag by taking the 2007 Villa d’Este Concours Best in Show as well.