1923 Mercedes 28/95 Targa Florio

The Vault presented by Hagerty®

The American Mercedes Company of New York built this car to celebrate the winning of an Italian road race the year prior. The Targa Florio was a grueling, off-road race in Sicily – one lap of the racetrack took 67 miles, so the cars had to be as durable as they were fast. One of the best performing cars of the day, the imposing 28/95 was powered by a massive 7.2-liter, single overhead cam aero engine modified for road use. About half the cars that entered didn’t finish. This Mercedes had two secret weapons. The first was its engine, built by Daimler, and derived from a WWI airplane. It’s massive – a 7.2L straight-six that can keep up with a modern BMW. The other secret weapon was the brake system – drum brakes on all four wheels, which was very advanced for the time. While most were built on long wheelbase chassis suitable for formal coachwork, a short wheelbase chassis was used for the rakish Targa Florio, so named because of Mercedes’ success with similar cars at the famous event in 1921 and 1922. This roadster was commissioned by the American Mercedes Company of New York City in 1923 and delivered in 1924. Renowned NBC Radio orchestra leader Don Ricardo acquired the rare car in 1986 and retained it until his death in 2001.