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These Vintage Mercedes Rally Photos Will Make You Want to Jump an Old Benz

Or, at the very least, drift a 230 SL in the dirt.

Conner GoldenWriterManufacturerPhotographer

One of our favorite pastimes is scrounging around automakers' media archives and digging up some seriously cool—and occasionally absurd—pictorial artifacts. Sometimes, we stumble upon a mothballed concept that's long since faded from collective memory, and other times, we uncover a trove of old motorsports photos hidden in plain sight, from an event that is no longer run or even remembered.

Most automakers maintain some form of physical archives, though few allow the public to rifle through their records, instead trickling a few image galleries out now and then to commemorate an anniversary, or when a new model resurrects a bygone nameplate.

Not Mercedes-Benz. The German automaker's ultra-extensive digital media archive is free for anyone to leaf through, with thousands of images spanning the entire length of its 94-year history. After a long afternoon of distracting ourselves with this hoard of digital riches, we found some of the most jaw-dropping vintage photos of Mercedes' rich history in rallying.

Naturally, we grabbed an armful of our favorites and compiled them here for you. This collection runs the entire rally gamut, from wild African rallies in a C107 SLC and bashing through rocks and snow in a fintail in Monte Carlo, to Geländewagens and Unimogs slicing through the high desert in the Paris-Dakar.

A pair of Mercedes-Benz 280 GEs conquers the 1983 Paris-Dakar

 We're starting strong with one of the most notoriously grueling rallies ever, the Paris-Dakar rally. Crossing six countries and thousands of miles through the desert, it's a phenomenally harsh test of vehicular and human fortitude. Jacky Ickx and co-driver Claude Brasseur won their class in the Texaco-branded G.

1960 Mercedes-Benz 220 SE cuts through a snowy pass during the 1960 Monte Carlo Rally

It's not just rocks, dust, and mud facing rally drivers, but depending on the season, snow and ice could pose serious challenges, too. A gorgeous 220 SE claimed another win for Mercedes at the 1960 running.

Pit stop for 1959 Mercedes 190 D

Mercedes motorsports legend Karl Kling stops to clear splattered insects and choking sand from the grille of his 190 D during the Cape Town Rally.

A little mud can't stop the Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC

If we're picking favorites, this is it. The wonderful C107-generation SLC found surprising success on the rally stage, as shown here splashing through a large mud puddle to take victory at both the Bandama Rally in Côte d'Ivoire, which the marque won in both 1979 and 1980.

A pair of Mercedes-Benz W111 220 SEs tackles the Liège-Sofia-Liège rally

It doesn't get more picturesque than this. The almighty 220 SE took home the overall win here again and—hmm, we're starting to see a pattern here. History is written by the winners, we suppose.

Fix-a-flat, East African Safari style

All of these action shots during the rally are heroic, but you'll rarely get a glimpse of the frustrating break-downs and crashes that occur—at least from the manufacturer. Here's a rare glimpse of a tire change for the 450 SLC during one of its many rallies.

Thank you for flying the friendly skies with the 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SE

It's not all dusty power slides and rooster tails through mud, as this 300 SE proves in Argentina.

The almighty Unimog crushes rocks, opponents at the 1984 Paris-Dakar

There isn't much that gets in the way of the Mercedes Unimog, as proved in 1984 when a properly equipped 'mog took home the laurels at the Paris-Dakar.

Want more vintage Mercedes rally goodness? So do we. While you check out the gallery below, we'll go dig around in the archives for some more amazing images.

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