In its day, the “Prinz-Heinrich Fahrt” (Prince Heinrich Tour), named after the brother of the German Emperor, was one of the most prominent automobile races in Europe. The “Kaiserlicher Automobil-Club” (German Imperial Automobile Club) staged the event between 1908 and 1910, and only permitted four-seater production vehicles to take part – so strictly no racing cars.
For the 1910 Tour, which was staged between 2 and 8 June of that year and covered a total distance of 1,945 kilometres from Berlin to Bad Homburg vor der Höhe in Hesse – via Brunswick, Kassel, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Strasbourg, and Metz – no less than ten all-new special touring cars were built. Four of them had 5.7-litre engines while the other six had engines with a displacement of 7.3 litres. All the touring cars were equipped with cardan shaft drive and featured a streamlined body with a characteristic pointed rear.
This dark green Benz special touring car with race number 38, only presented in February after being extensively restored to its original condition by Mercedes-Benz Classic, is considered to be the first true sports car by many automobile historians. It is one of only two known vehicles in the world produced by Benz for the Prince Heinrich Tour of 1910 that have survived in their original form since their first race more than 100 years ago. The vehicle from the Mercedes-Benz Classic collection finished in 11th place at the time, and then in the same year also took part in the Tsar Nicholas Tour. To this day the racing car still has the modified engine – with a displacement reduced to 5.4 litres – with which it was fitted for this race in Russia.