Born in Glessen, Germany, Karl Kling was a member of the Mercedes racing team during the glorious Silver Arrow era after the Second World War. The legendary racing manager Alfred Neubauer brought him into the team as a works driver and Kling later became Neubauer's successor.
Karl Kling started as a reception clerk in the PR department of Daimler-Benz back in 1936 and competed with Mercedes production cars in rallies and reliability trails up to the start of the Second World War.
He serviced planes for the Luftwaffe during the war, then started racing again in 1946 with a BMW 328 before graduating to a Veritas sport cars and racing cars in 1947.
The next two seasons saw him crowned German sports car champion in the 2-litre class with the potent Veritas. In 1950, he raced the Veritas-Meteor in Formula 2, winning races at Grenzlandring and Solitude, and the Eifelrennen at the Nurburgring.
In 1950 he began racing for Daimler-Benz, winning the ADAC's six-hour race on the Nurburgring at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz 170S. A year later he became a member of the works team alongside Fangio and Hermann Lang.
Driving reactivated supercharged V-12 race cars from 1939, the team entered two Grand Prix events in Buenos Aires, with Kling taking second place in the Eva Peron Cup.
Kling's golden period began in 1952, when he enjoyed outstanding success in international circuit and long-distance races at the wheel of the new Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing prototype.
He won the Grand Prix de Berne and though he missed out at Le Mans, he took overall victory in the notoriously demanding Carrera Panamericana in Mexico with Hans Klenk. He proved his skills once more with a second place in the tortuous Mille Miglia in Italy and finished runner-up in the Anniversary Race for sports cars on the Nurburgring.
Kling switched to Alfa Romeo in 1953 but was back in the silver cars the following season when Daimler-Benz returned to Grand Prix racing with their new W196 Formula One car. Kling once again lined up alongside Fangio, Lang and Hans Herrmann.
On the unveiling of the new Silver Arrows at the French Grand Prix in Reims on July 4, 1954, Karl Kling finished runner-up to Fangio. He subsequently achieved a number of high-placed finishes on just about every major Grand Prix circuit - his victories in the 1954 Berlin Grand Prix held on the famous AVUS racetrack and in the 1955 Swedish Grand Prix being particularly worthy of note.
Relegated in the pecking order in 1955 with the arrival of Stirling Moss, success became hard to find in Grands Prix. He did manage third place at Aintree, behind Moss and Fangio, and co-drove the second-placed Mercedes with Fangio at the Tourist Trophy and the Targa Florio.
When Daimler-Benz withdrew from motor racing at the end of the 1955 season, Karl Kling took over from his mentor Alfred Neubauer as head of the motor sports department. He also continued to take an active part in racing - notably in long-distance races. In 1959 he won the Mediterranee - Le Cap Rally in a Mercedes-Benz 190 Diesel and drove a Mercedes-Benz 220SE to victory in the Algiers - Cape Town Rally in 1961. On both occasions, his navigator was Rainer Gunzler, a well-known TV journalist in Germany.
Since the death of his wife, Karl Kling had led a quiet life in his house on Lake Constance.