Junkyard Find: 1972 "Gazelle" Mercedes-Benz SSK Replica

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1972 gazelle mercedes benz ssk replica

Trying to track down the history of all the varieties of fiberglass-bodied kit cars intended to look something like the Mercedes-Benz SSK will drive you crazy in a hurry because so many companies building these cars popped up in the 1970s and 1980s. You could build an “SSK” based on hardware from a Chevy Chevette, a Ford Pinto, or a VW Type 1 Beetle. Many did. Because Classic Motor Carriages and Fiberfab and Tiffany Motor Cars all called their versions “Gazelle” (trying to parse the relationships between those companies is like deciphering the wiring in a Porsche 928), this has become the generic term for these cars.

Anyway, here is an early variety of Gazelle, built on a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle pan, that I found in a Denver yard a few weeks ago.

About the one thing all these cars had in common was this grille, no doubt manufactured in a dodgy facility owned by shadowy Cayman Island investors.

The riveted-on manufacturer’s tag is long gone from this car, but I’m guessing it’s a Tiffany.

It had been sitting outdoors for many, many years prior to arriving here, and the Colorado sun has had its way with the stuff made of wood, cloth, and leather.

VW used generators (which suck) for many years after most other manufacturers switched to alternators. The electrical demands of a Gazelle weren’t very serious, so this rig probably worked well enough.

Look, safety! If you want to know how these cars were assembled, you can still find the manual (PDF).

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  • Hawox Hawox on Jan 26, 2016

    i like the dune buggy, i also like many other well made kit cars, and hot rods. but i really don't like mercedes and rs 550 spyder stiled kit cars based on the beetle. never saw a good one, and don't understand the joy of driving one. the vw beetle is allready funny car to drive and look. not to mention that a well made fiber body would be eavier than the beetle steel.

  • Nick Nick on Feb 10, 2016

    Has anyone ever produced a neo-classic kitcar that wasn't just horrible? There used to be a VW-based Jag 120 kitcar in my hometown and I always desperately wanted to set it on fire just to rid the world of it.

  • Probert Sorry to disappoint: https://robbreport.com/motors/cars/tesla-model-y-worlds-best-selling-vehicle-1234848318/and any list. of articles with a 1 second google search. It's a tough world out there - but you can do it!!!!!!
  • ToolGuy "We're marking the anniversary of the time Robert Farago started the GM death watch and called for the company to die."• No, we aren't. Robert Farago wrote that in April 2005. It was reposted in 2009 on the eve of the actual bankruptcy filing.The byline dates are sometimes strange/off with the site revisions (and the 'this is a repost' note got lost), but the date string in the link is correct (...2005/04...). Posting about GM bankruptcy in 2005 was a slightly more difficult call than doing it in 2009.-- The Truth About Calendars
  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.