The classic Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows

Discussion in 'Classic Cars' started by ajzahn, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. * Racing and record cars between 1934 and 1939 and between 1954 and 1955
    * Racers with a legendary aura
    * Silver Arrows revived after World War II

    Where Mercedes-Benz is concerned, the fascination of competition and of continuity at the highest level is as strong as the trademark itself. This is attributable to first-class products in all vehicle segments, as well as to the all-out determination to engage in sporting competitions. Customer wishes and markets in the global environment change all the time – and the company is responding to these changes on an ongoing basis.

    Determination to show one's mettle in competition is also, and in particular, expressed by Mercedes-Benz's activities in motor sports. In racing, it is clear to see who's out in the lead – this is where engineering, team and tactics must be well matched to score success. The commitment reflects positively on the brand, and this in turn justifies the enormous costs. As early as 1907/1908, the annual report of Benz had this to say: "We consider the additional expenditure on racing to be indispensable for our brand to hold its own in international competition." Today, sponsors and partners use the popularity of motor sports for their own interests and thus reduce the financial risk.

    While still in its infancy at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the automobile already demonstrated its performance and reliability in competitions. Vehicles of Benz and Daimler competed in all famous racing events around the world. And they established new speed records time and again. The Lighting Benz is an impressive example of this; in 1909 it was the first car to exceed the magic mark of 200 km/h. Soon afterwards, the supercharged racing cars from Mercedes-Benz appeared on the scene and dominated all major racing events.

    The classic Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows

    The company's early racing history culminated in a very special chapter in the 1930s: the era of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows. They scored top results in international races, set the standards in terms of sporting spirit, and put the engineering to the acid test. The Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows were evidence for the company's commitment to competition – every year and with every driver. At the same time, every victory clinched with these special racing cars and every record established contributed to a legend which has been intriguing people to this very day, and which is effortlessly being continued by the modern-day Silver Arrows which have been entered in racing since the 1990s.

    Silver Arrows – the words have a magic. The popular racing car designation originated in the 1930s when Mercedes-Benz changed the colour of their Grand Prix cars from white to silver at the beginning of the 1934 racing season. Exactly when and where this change took place has provided occasion for speculations and legends down to this day.

    In the decades that followed the popular name "Silver Arrows" turned out to be quite flexible. In the 1930s, it was also used for competitor Auto Union. And the name resounded quickly throughout the country after the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-12 had been presented in mid-February 1997, sporting the attractive livery of its sponsor West, in which silver prevailed. First and foremost, however, the legendary name is applied to the Mercedes-Benz racing and record cars of the 1930s and 1950s.

    Series of successes in several steps

    Four racing car models shaped the first Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow era during the five years between 1934 and 1939. The series of triumphs began with the W 25 (1934 – 1936) and the W 125 (1937) for the 750-kilogram formula. Then came the W 154 complying with the three-litre formula in 1938/39, and finally the W 165 for the one-and-a-half-litre race in Tripoli in May 1939.

    Over and above this, Silver Arrow was also the befitting name for several record-breaking cars, for instance the streamlined versions of the W 25 (1934 and 1936), the record-breaking versions of the W 125 (1938) and W 154 (1939), and finally the awe-inspiring T 80 (1939).

    An attempted comeback with the pre-war W 154 at two races in Buenos Aires in February 1951 wilted into a footnote of history. The modern (post-war) period was initiated in 1952 with the 300 SL (W 194) racing sports car. Two years later the Silver Arrow legend came alive again: Entering the W 196 R Grand Prix car from July 1954, the Stuttgart-based company harked back on the unprecedented series of triumphs in 1939. In 1955, the successful 300 SLR racing sports car did its bit to the greater glory of the brand.

    The driver personalities

    The Silver Arrows were piloted by a number of drivers. The most eminent of these between 1934 and 1939 and then again between 1952 and 1955 were:

    * Manfred von Brauchitsch
    * Rudolf Caracciola
    * Luigi Fagioli
    * Juan Manuel Fangio
    * Karl Kling
    * Hermann Lang
    * Stirling Moss
    * Richard Seaman
  2. The Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows from 1934 to 1939

    * The W 25 (1934 to 1936) establishes the legend of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows
    * The subsequent racing cars W 125, W 154 and W 165 continue the string of successes

    The Mercedes-Benz SSKL, an extremely successful racing car in the 1920s and early 1930s, had served its purpose, driving from success to success. A new age dawned from 1934: the project for the future was the W 25. As to its premiere, Daimler-Benz set its sights on the Avus and Eifel races in the run-up to the French Grand Prix on July 1, 1934, the second of the season. To win the race in France would have been quite a feat, almost exactly 20 years after the one-two-three triumph of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) in Lyon. Eventually, it was an Alfa Romeo P3 Tipo B that actually won the race in Montlh�ry, but it was the W 25 which represented the state of the art.

    Hans Nibel was responsible for the entire project, Max Wagner for the chassis, Albert Heess and Otto Schilling for the engine. In the testing department under Fritz Nallinger, Georg Scheerer, one of the spiritual fathers of the early supercharged cars built by Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG), put the machines through their paces. Otto Weber assembled them, while the chassis were put together by Jakob Kraus, both men being veterans of the DMG excursion to Indianapolis in 1923. Strong stimuli came from a Daimler-Benz production car, the Mercedes-Benz 380, launched at the Berlin Motor Show in February 1933. This model set new standards with its independent wheel suspension, double wishbones at the front, a swing axle at the rear and an eight-cylinder in-line engine with integrated supercharger.

    The racing engine, even from today's perspective a highly modern four-valve unit with twin overhead camshafts, to which two blocks of four combustion units complete with cylinder head and coolant jackets were welded, tipped the scales at 211 kilograms. The transmission was flanged onto the differential (transaxle design) to improve the distribution of the axle loads. The supercharger was mounted at its front, providing two pressure carburettors with compressed air. The tank held 215 litres, 98 of which were emptied per 100 kilometres at racing speeds. The four gears and one reverse gear were actuated via a gate with a locking mechanism to the right of the driver's seat.
    The car's frame was composed of two U-section side members with cross-bracing, all of which extensively pierced for lightness as on the SSKL. The body was hand-beaten aluminium, with a large number of cooling louvers. Aerodynamic fairings enclosed the front as well as the rear suspension, whereas a simple vertical-bar grille fronted the body with its strikingly tapered tail.

    The race cars for 1934 were ready by the beginning of May. At dawn of the Thursday before the Avus race on 27 May, Manfred von Brauchitsch, Luigi Fagioli and Rudolf Caracciola took their seats behind the steering wheels of their W 25 cars. In spite of this successful test, the Mercedes-Benz management withdrew the three cars on the grounds that they were not ready for racing yet. Their debut would be a week later in the Eifel race where the Silver Arrow legend was born.

    Ironically, the 750-kg formula had been created to curb the ever-escalating speed of the powerful racing cars � built for example by Alfa Romeo, Bugatti and Maserati. The very opposite was achieved since design engineers at once resorted to bigger displacements. The Mercedes-Benz technicians had envisaged 280 hp (206 kW) for the initial M 25 A, extrapolating the 85 hp (63 kW) per litre of the supercharged 1924 two-litre M 2 L 8 engine with which Rudolf Caracciola had won the 1926 German Grand Prix on the Avus, and arriving at a theoretical capacity of 3360 cc for the new engine. The actual output of the eight-cylinder engine at the beginning amounted to a massive 354 hp (260 kW). Several engine versions with boosted power output followed. The M 25 AB (3710 cc) variant generated 398 hp (293 kW), followed by the M 25 B (3980 cc and 430 hp/316 kW) and C (4300 cc and 462 hp/340 kW) variants, and eventually, in 1936, the ME 25 version (4740 cc) producing 494 hp (363 kW) � always at 5800 rpm.

    The career of the Mercedes-Benz W 25 was brilliant, with 16 victories in Grand Prix and other major races to its.

    Mercedes-Benz W 125 (1937)

    For the 1937 season, Mercedes-Benz developed a new racing car, the W 125. Its backbone consisted of an extremely sturdy, tubular oval frame made from special steel, with four cross members. It benefited from tests with production car frames as, for instance, the one used on the 1938 generation of the Mercedes-Benz 230. The wheels were located differently, by double wishbones and coil springs at the front, as on the celebrated, noble 500 K and 540 K models, and by a double-joint De Dion rear axle which ensured constant camber, plus longitudinally installed torsion bar springs and lever-type shock absorbers. Lateral links transferred thrust and brake moments to the chassis.
    After extensive tests on the N�rburgring, the engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut came up with a revolutionary suspension configuration: setting a precedent for later Grand Prix car designers, Uhlenhaut just reversed the basic suspension set-up used until then, stiff springing but little damping: the W 125 had soft springs with long spring travel and stiff dampers and thus served as a role model for all modern Mercedes-Benz sports cars. Its outer appearance resembled its predecessor's, unmistakable all the same by the three cooling air inlets. For the ultra-fast Avus race on 30 May 1937 (Hermann Lang achieved an average speed of 261.7 km/h), it was kitted out with a streamlined body. The transmission and differential formed an integrated unit. The car's eight-cylinder in-line engine represented the highest evolutionary stage of the Grand Prix machine used since 1934. The supercharger was positioned behind the carburettors and thus supplied with the mixture itself � a first with Mercedes-Benz racing cars.

    Although the W 125 served its fast purpose for one year only, it did so with great variability. It could precisely be adjusted to the respective racetrack by means of different transmissions, tank volumes and petrol cocktails, carburettors, superchargers, rim and tire sizes, tire treads and even exterior dimensions. Engine power, torque, top speed and the speeds achieved in the individual gears varied accordingly. As many as eight different transmission ratios were available, for instance, plus two rear-wheel sizes (7.00-19 and 7.00-22). An output of 592 hp (435 kW) at 5800 rpm quoted by the factory refers to the Gran Premio d'Italia in Livorno on 12 September 1937. The engine, which had arrived at a capacity of 5660 cc in the meantime, devoured one litre per kilometre, an aggressive special mixture made up of 88 percent methanol, 8.8 percent acetone and traces of other substances. Ready to race, the W 125 weighed 1097 kilograms (1021 kilograms without driver) in that configuration, including 240 litres of petrol, seven litres of water, nine litres of engine oil and 3.5 litres of transmission oil. The Untert�rkheim engineers evoked up to 646 hp (475 kW) from the 222-kilogram engine on the test bench, corresponding to a massive power-to-swept-volume ratio of 114 hp (84 kW) and an equally astounding power-to-weight ratio of 1.16 kilograms per horsepower. Those were values that were surpassed only decades later, just like Hermann Lang's average speed of 261.7 km/h in that year's Avus race.

    Mercedes-Benz W 154 (1938 to 1939)

    In September 1936, motor racing's legislative body, the AIACR (Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus), decreed the parameters of the new Grand Prix formula from 1938 onwards. The key elements: a maximum displacement of three litres for supercharged engines, or of 4.5 litres for naturally aspirated units, a minimum weight of 400 or up to 850 kilograms, depending on the engine's displacement.

    The 1937 season hardly had ended when the Mercedes-Benz engineers were already busy preparing the next with a host of new ideas, concepts and concrete steps. A naturally aspirated engine with three banks of eight cylinders each, i.e., a W 24 configuration, was considered, as were a rear-mounted engine, direct petrol injection and fully streamlined bodies. In the end, above all because of thermal reasons, the engineers opted for a 60-degree V12 developed in-house by specialist Albert Heess. In doing so, with 250 cc per combustion unit, they had again arrived at the minimum displacement in each of the eight cylinders of the supercharged two-litre M 2 L 8 engine of 1924. Glycol as coolant permitted temperatures of up to 125�C. Four overhead camshafts actuated 48 valves via forked rocker arms. Three forged steel cylinders at a time were united within welded-on coolant jackets. The heads were not removable. Powerful pumps pressed 100 litres of oil per minuServer: Orion/2.0.7
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    te through the engine which weighed 500 kilograms. Two single-stage superchargers were used initially, to be replaced by a two-stage supercharger in 1939.

    In January 1938 the first specimen was running on the test bench, and the first almost trouble-free test run was completed on February 7, when the engine developed 427 hp (314 kW) at 8000 rpm. In the first half of the season, drivers Caracciola, Lang, von Brauchitsch and Seaman had 430 hp (316 kW) at their disposal, towards its end more than 468 hp (344 kW). In Reims, Hermann Lang's car was fitted with the most powerful version with 474 hp (349 kW), howling down the long straights of the Champagne circuit at 283 km/h at 7500 rpm in his W 154. And for the first time a Mercedes-Benz racing car had five gears.

    Max Wagner's task in the suspension design department to come up with a suitable chassis was much easier than that of his colleagues in the engine department. He took over the basic architecture of the previous year's state-of-the-art solution for the W 125 to a major extent but increased the frame's torsional stiffness by another 30 percent. The V12 was installed deeply and at an angle, with the carburettors' air intakes projecting out of the radiator whose grille was progressively broadened before the beginning of the season.

    The driver was seated to the right of the propeller shaft. The W 154 cowered close to the tarmac, the body profile being considerably lower than the tops of its tires. This not only endowed it with a visually dynamic appeal but also suitably lowered its centre of gravity. Manfred von Brauchitsch and Richard Seaman, on whose technical expertise Chief Engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut was able to rely, were at once taken with its road-holding qualities.

    The W 154 had been the most successful Silver Arrow until that point in time: Rudolf Caracciola clinched the 1938 European champion's title (a world championship did not yet exist), and the W 154 won three out of four Grand Prix races counting towards the championship.

    In order to avoid problems in terms of weight distribution the balance was equalled out by means of a saddle tank above the driver's legs. In 1939, a two-stage supercharger boosted the V12's output to 483 hp (355 kW) at 7800 rpm. This engine was now called M 163. The endeavours of AIACR to reduce the open-wheel Grand Prix racing cars' speeds to acceptable levels had practically failed. The fastest laps, for instance on Bern's Bremgarten circuit, were almost identical in 1937 (still according to the 750-kg formula) and in 1939 (with the new-generation three-litre cars). In all other respects as well, the W 154 had been refined a great deal over the 1938/39 winter. A higher cowl line in the cockpit area provided greater safety for the driver. A small instrument panel in his direct field of vision was attached to the saddle tank. As usual, it gave only the most essential information, with a large rev counter in the middle, flanked by the gauges for water and oil temperatures. This was entirely in keeping with Uhlenhaut's principles. The driver, he used to say, must not be distracted by an excess of data.

    Mercedes-Benz W 165 (1939)

    The Grand Prix teams' favourite race in the 1930s was a race which did not even count towards the European championship: the Tripoli Grand Prix in Libya, an Italian province since January 1934. Its governor was bearded air marshal Italo Balbo, addicted to motor racing and other good things in life � and a brilliant host to boot.

    The Tripoli Grand Prix simply was an attractive proposition for the teams. They were greeted by summer heat while Europe was still shivering with cold, an exotic ambience on white marble terraces and under palms, glittering parties and generous prize money, not least because Italy had been indulging in betting on place and win within the framework of a lottery since 1933. Small wonder, therefore, that the Grand Prix circus liked to come to Tripoli.

    But in secret the organisers were quite annoyed that the last victory of an Italian racing car, an Alfa Romeo, dated back to 1934. Ever since, the Silver Arrows had been virtually subscribed to first places on the fast, 13-kilometre Mellaha racetrack, round the eponymous lake outside the city gates of Tripoli. The 1935 was won by Rudolf Caracciola. In 1937 and 1938 it was Hermann Lang's turn driving the Mercedes-Benz racing car. In 1936 the winner had been an Auto Union racing car.

    That nuisance had to be remedied. In 1937 and 1938 there had already been a separate 1.5-liter category to ensure Italian triumphs, at least in the lower echelons. Rumour had it that the Grand Prix formula from 1941 onwards might be for cars with the same displacement. To be suitably ahead of things but also to put a stop to the perennial German victories, the Italian motor sport authorities decreed a 1500 cc limit (voiturette formula) for their own open-wheel cars from 1939. Alfa Romeo with their Alfetta 158 and Maserati with their new 4CL were well prepared for this.

    The new regulations were announced in September 1938.

    Mercedes-Benz racing manager Alfred Neubauer was informed about this after the Gran Premio d'Italia in Monza on 11 September 1938. The 13th Tripoli Grand Prix was to take place on 7 May 1939. So there were less than eight months to come up with a new car � a race against time. It was, however, to end in outstanding triumph.

    A first meeting of the men involved was scheduled on 15 September 1938. Max Sailer, ex-racer and chief engineer since 1934, shrugged off the objections raised by the design engineers that such a project was impossible to realise in view of the scant time. It had to be. On 18 November followed the official order by the management. By mid-February 1939 all the essential drawings by engine specialist Albert Heess and passenger car design chief Max Wagner were finished. In early April there was the first encounter between drivers Rudolf Caracciola and Hermann Lang and their new mount, one of two built, in Hockenheim, resulting in 500 almost trouble-free kilometres. To everybody's surprise the final list of contestants issued by the organisers of the Tripoli Grand Prix on April 11 included two Mercedes-Benz W 165 cars � the brand's first 1.5-liter racing cars since the Targa Florio in 1922.

    The immense time pressure haunting the project inescapably triggered practical necessities. The W 165 obviously had to follow the lines established by the up-to-date W 154 Grand Prix car, which, of course, was being feverishly further developed at the same time. Indeed the open-wheel W 165 looked like a scaled-down version of its big brother, 3680 millimetres long (W 154: 4250 millimetres) and with a shortened wheelbase of 2450 millimetres (W 154: 2730 millimetres). The braces of its tubular oval frame consisted of nickel chromium molybdenum steel, its five cross members being complemented by the rear engine support. The driver's seat was slightly offset to the right, and so were the windshield and the rear-view mirrors. As on the W 154, the propeller shaft was angled though, because of the cramped conditions, it had been impossible to create the space for the customary central position. What's more, the seat was positioned farther forward, as Wagner wanted to stow away as much petrol as possible within the confines of the wheelbase. Again there was the tank in the tail, as well as a saddle tank above the driver's thighs. Topped up but without its driver, the W 165 weighed a mere 905 kilograms, 53.3 percent of which were placed above the rear axle.

    The engine, weighing just 195 kilograms, could not deny its kinship with the W 154's V12. It was a compact 1493 cc 90-degree V8 with four overhead camshafts and 32 valves, its valve gear and arrangement being almost identical with the Grand Prix engine's. Its right-hand bank was offset forward by 18 millimetres, either bank consisting of four combustion units sharing a common base plate and (glycol) coolant jacket. The heads were welded together with the cylinders. Tests with a centrifugal supercharger were discontinued as boost pressure dropped quickly at low revs. So the mixture formation system was made up by two Solex suction-type carburettors, powerfully assisted by two Roots blowers. Its 254 hp (187 kW) at 8250 rpm were equivalent to a power-to-swept-volume ratio of 170 hp (125 kW) � indeed an impressive value. Their taming had been efficiently looked after as well, as huge brake drums (with a diameter of 360 millimetres) filled almost the complete interior of the wire wheels. Even the heat of the Libyan host country (52�C on racing day) had been allowed for in that the fuel feed lines were guided through a tubular radiator.

    The rest is racing history at its very best. The Mercedes-Benz W 165 cars gave their opponents no break. Caracciola, on fresh tires, raced right through with his short-ratio car, while Lang with his "long" rear axle ratio (and thus a higher top speed) made one quick pit-stop and won the Tripoli race almost one lap ahead of his team-mate. He might have lapped him but then his scruples prevailed 9
  3. Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows from 1934 to 1939 � Technical data
    Mercedes-Benz W 25

    * Entered in racing: 1934 - 1936
    * Engine: Supercharged eight-cylinder four-stroke in-line petrol engine
    * Displacement: 3360 cc
    * Output: 280 hp (206 kW), later boosted to 494 hp (363 kW)
    * Top speed: approx. 300 km/h

    Mercedes-Benz W 125

    * Entered in racing: 1937
    * Engine: Supercharged eight-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine
    * Displacement: 5660 cc
    * Output: 592 hp (435 kW), later boosted to up to 646 hp (475 kW)
    * Top speed: over 300 km/h

    Mercedes-Benz W 154

    * Entered in racing: 1938/39
    * Engine: V12 four-stroke petrol engine with two superchargers,
    60 degrees, 1939 version with a two-stage supercharger
    * Displacement: 2963 cc
    * Output: 427 hp (314 kW), later boosted to 474 hp (349 kW)
    * Top speed: 330 km/h

    Mercedes-Benz W 165

    * Entered in racing: 1939
    * Engine: V8 four-stroke petrol engine with two superchargers, 90 degrees
    * Displacement: 1495 cc
    * Output: 254 hp (187 kW)
    * Top speed: 272 km/h
  4. The races from 1934 to 1939

    * Always in the van of Grand Prix events with sophisticated technology
    * Numerous European championships as reward for all the efforts
    * Victories also in reliability trials and other competitions

    In 1934 a new formula was to take effect in Grand Prix racing. Without fuel, oil and tyres the cars were allowed to weigh no more than 750 kilograms, and the body had to have a width of at least 85 centimetres. Otherwise there were no restrictions according to the rules adopted in October 1932 by the AIACR. Mercedes-Benz decided in 1933 to develop a new racing car for this formula. It was the return to top-level racing after a period of depression.

    High unemployment, economic crisis, the Mercedes-Benz factory racing department shut down � the year 1932 was not a great time for motor sports activities in Germany. When the Nazis seized power in 1933, the conditions for motor sports changed in Germany: the Nazi government was bent on promoting the motor vehicle industry, took over the existing autobahn construction projects, cut taxes on new vehicles and urged the major manufacturers to involve themselves in motor sports.

    This gave rise to the competition between Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union that put its stamp on racing in Europe in the years up to 1939. Auto Unionbought the P-car project of Ferdinand Porsche. Mercedes-Benz likewise had to have an entirely new car. The supercharged racing cars, serial winners in the 1920s, belonged to a past era. Their weight alone made it impossible to develop them further under the new Grand Prix rules.
    Pressed for time, the technicians around chief engineer Hans Nibel developed a completely new racing car designed as a monoposto (open-wheel car), the Mercedes-Benz W 25. The monoposto design, designed for one driver and no mechanic or co-driver, was the body form of the future for the elite class of racing. The days of racing with Grand Prix cars with two seats and four-seater touring cars were over. The combination of a slim body, a mechanically supercharged 3.4-litre in-line four-cylinder engine, independent wheel suspension, and a transmission directly mounted on the rear axle added up to an absolute winner.

    In 1958 racing manager Alfred Neubauer recalled the first driving tests with the new racing cars that would become the brand's first Silver Arrows: In February 1934 Mercedes-Benz organised test runs in Monza and on the autobahn between Milan and Varese; testing in Germany followed. "The little car was sheer delight," Neubauer writes in retrospect. Rudolf Caracciola, who was recovering from his severe accident, also trained in Germany with the monoposto car: "I was cautious on the first lap, hesitant. � Then I opened the throttle more, the car got faster. The woods to my left and right consolidated into a greyish-green wall. The white ribbon of the road appeared to narrow even more, and the wind sweeping past had a high and clear singing tone."

    The W 25 attained top speeds of more than 250 km/h. It would see its first competitive action in the International Eifel race on the N�rburgring. Drivers Rudolf Caracciola, Luigi Fagioli, Manfred von Brauchitsch, Hanns Geier and Ernst Henne were the members of the new Grand Prix team. Before the race on 3 June 1934 at N�rburgring, Mercedes-Benz changed the racing colour from white to silver, making the W 25 a forerunner of the "Silver Arrows", as Mercedes-Benz racing cars soon would be called. Manfred von Brauchitsch completed the race at an average speed of 122.5 km/h to set a new course record.

    The silver of the racing cars was retained for future races, and Mercedes-Benz continued its winning ways. Caracciola won the Klausen race, Luigi Fagioli the Coppa Acerbo. The two drivers shared the victory by Mercedes-Benz in the Italian Grand Prix in Monza: The 1276 curves and 928 chicanes to be negotiated over the full distance made the race in Monza the toughest one in the entire 1934 season, and after his accident in Monaco in 1933, Rudolf Caracciola wasn't fit enough yet to stick it out over the entire time. So at the half-way mark in the race, Luigi Fagioli took over the wheel of Caracciola's car with the competitor's number 2 and defended the lead built up by Caracciola up to the finish.
    Fagioli also won the Spanish Grand Prix, with Caracciola taking second.

    Mercedes-Benz had returned to the pinnacle of international racing. The 1934 season left no doubt about that. However, the new competitor Auto Union also proved a powerful force in the struggle for victory. The Stuttgart people answered the challenge with new generations of the W 25 in 1935. The most powerful version now developed 462 hp (334 kW) with a displacement of 4310 cubic centimetres.

    This car gave Mercedes-Benz almost unlimited domination in the 1935 racing season: Rudolf Caracciola got back into top form and in his W 25 won the Grand Prix of Tripoli, the Eifel race, the French, Belgian, Swiss and Spanish Grand Prix races. He won the European champion's title in 1935. Also in 1935, Luigi Fagioli won the Monaco Grand Prix, the Avus race and the Grand Prix of Barcelona � ahead of Caracciola. "1935 was a year of triumph for Mercedes-Benz," Alfred Neubauer recalls. "We captured first place in five of the seven classic Grand Prix races in Europe."

    Mercedes-Benz competed in the next season with a revamped W 25. "Our Mercedes engineers have come up with something entirely new for the 1936 racing year. The car is smaller and shorter now. But its displacement is 4.7 litres, and the engine develops well over 420 hp," Neubauer summarizes. But the latest stage in the evolution of the
    W 25 could not pick up the thread of the successes of 1935. Mercedes-Benz managed only two victories in 1936, in the Grand Prix of Monaco and Tunis, both won by Rudolf Caracciola.

    After the more or less average performance of the modified W 25 in its third season, Mercedes-Benz designed a new car for the 1937 racing year. The W 125 would dominate 1937 with its eight-cylinder engine in which a mechanical supercharger made for peak outputs of more than 600 hp (441 kW) obtained from a displacement of 5.6 litres. The W 125 was designed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut � an engineer who even impressed the stern racing manager Neubauer: "A genial young man has given our cars a new touch. His name is Uhlenhaut, and he is the only design engineer who ever knew how to drive a heavy Grand Prix car around a course at racing tempo with his own two hands."

    The engineers relied on new detailed solutions. For instance, for the first time in a Silver Arrow the compressor was arranged downstream of the carburettors. That is to say, the supercharger compressed the finished mixture. The in-line eight-cylinder marked the highest stage of development of the Grand Prix power plant in use since 1934. The W 125 enabled Mercedes-Benz to move to the fore of European racing again. For the ultra-fast Avus race on 30 May 1937 it was fitted with a streamlined body. Hermann Lang won this race, as he did the Grand Prix of Tripoli. His average speed of 271.7 km/h on the Avus course was not beaten until 1959.

    In the Eifelrace Caracciola and von Brauchitsch took second and third place, while Caracciola won the German Grand Prix ahead of von Brauchitsch. This marked the fifth win by Caracciola in a Mercedes-Benz in this Grand Prix, which is so important for the German public. The brand claimed one victory after another that year. Manfred von Brauchitsch won the Grand Prix of Monaco, followed by Caracciola and Christian Kautz as well as Geoffredo Zehender (5th). In the Swiss Grand Prix the men on the winner's rostrum were Caracciola, Lang and von Brauchitsch; Caracciola won the Italian Grand Prix, with Lang in second. By winning the Masaryk Grand Prix in Brno ahead of von Brauchitsch, Caracciola polished off a record-setting year which once again came to an end with him holding the title of European Champion.

    Along with the successes in formula racing, the Stuttgart racing department also impressed with wins in reliability trials and other competitions mainly carried out with touring cars. But it was the W 125 in particular that gave Mercedes-Benz a magnificent racing year. It was a string of successes which could not be repeated, because the 750-kilogram formula ended with this season. From 1938 new rules applied limiting the displacement to three litres with mechanical supercharger or 4.5 litres without supercharger. And once again the fathers of the Silver Arrows demonstrated their unconditional commitment to competition, in the Development department and on the racetrack: For 1938 the entirely new W 154 racing car was created. It would take up where the successful 750-kilogram racers had left off. An average 430 hp (316 kW) was available to the drivers in the first half of the 1938 season, at the end of which it was more than 468 hp (344 kW). And with these power reserves and its outstanding technical concept, the W 154 "muscle machine", crouching low on the asphalt, became the most successful racServer: Orion/2.0.7
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    ing car of the era.

    The very first race, the Grand Prix of Tripoli, was a triple victory for Hermann Lang, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Rudolf Caracciola. In the French Grand Prix
    Mercedes-Benz managed to repeat the triple win, this time with Brauchitsch before Caracciola and Lang. Briton Richard Seaman won the German Grand Prix on the N�rburgring, with the car jointly driven by Caracciola and Lang coming in second, while Hermann Lang won the Coppa Ciano in Livorno and Rudolf Caracciola the Coppa Acerbo in Pescara. In the Swiss Grand Prix three W 154 cars again took the first three places (Caracciola, Seaman and von Brauchitsch); for the third time Rudolf Caracciola was crowned European Champion that year.

    In the last racing season prior to the Second World War Mercedes-Benz continued the successes of 1938 with the W 154. The first major race of that year was the Grand Prix of Pau, from which Hermann Lang in a W 154 emerged as winner ahead of Manfred von Brauchitsch. In the Eifel race in May, Lang was again the first driver to cross the finish line; Caracciola came in third, von Brauchitsch fourth. Hermann Lang followed through on these early successes, displaying an impressive continuity throughout the summer and autumn: In the Vienna Mountain Road Race he captured victory in the W 154 hillclimb car (von Brauchitsch was 3rd); the two drivers repeated this placing at the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa; in the Swiss Grand Prix Lang finished ahead of Caracciola and von Brauchitsch.

    Hermann Lang also won the Grand Prix of Tripoli. This race was the big exception among the Mercedes victories of 1939. It was announced that the competition would be held not in the three-litre formula dominated by the Stuttgart cars, but in the 1.5-litre category (voiturette formula). With this trick the organisers wanted to ensure victory for the Italian racing cars. But in only eight months the Mercedes-Benz engineers developed a completely new racing car, the W 165.

    In the race the two Mercedes-Benz W 165 cars gave their opponents no break. Caracciola, on fresh tyres, raced right through with his short-ratio car, while Lang with his "long" rear axle ratio (and thus a higher top speed) made one quick pit-stop and won the Tripoli race almost one lap ahead of his team-mate. In 1939 Lang took the title of European Champion and German Mountain Champion. Caracciola, who won the 1939 German Grand P
  5. ercedes-Benz record cars (1934 to 1939)

    * Perfect for terrific speeds on long straightaways
    * The Mercedes-Benz W 125 achieves 432.7 km/h on a public road � a record unbroken to this very day
    * Modified racing cars at first, later special designs

    Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union were rivals not only on the racetrack. The two German brands fought to assert the supremacy of their cars in record-breaking attempts as well. The cars used by Mercedes-Benz were derived by the Stuttgart engineers from the Grand Prix cars. A version of the W 25 with aerodynamic cockpit panelling made a start in 1934.
    Alfred Neubauer reported on the record-breaking attempts in Hungary: "It's October. A cold, wet wind is blowing on the expressway at Gy�n, south of Budapest. We fear this wetness, this wind. Because we want to capture world records." Rudolf Caracciola sat at the wheel of the record-breaking car. "Rudi is driving, and for the first time in his life he is doing more than 300 kilometres per hour. Faster than any human being ever has driven in a conventional racing car on a road. Caracciola is setting world records. This is his greatest victory this year."

    Caracciola underscored the performance capabilities of the 430 hp (316 kW) racing car by setting international records in class C (3 to 5 litres displacement) over one kilometre (317.5 km/h) and one mile with a flying start (316.6 km/h). He also managed a new world record of 188.6 km/h for one mile with standing start. In December 1934 Caracciola additionally set an international class record (class C) of 311.98 km/h over five kilometres on the Avus course.

    The W 25 also was the basis of the record breaker with which Mercedes-Benz gave a foretaste of the innovative potential of the new W 125 in 1936: on 11 November Caracciola established five international class records and one world record on the "Reichsautobahn" Frankfurt � Darmstadt in a Mercedes-Benz streamlined record-breaking car featuring a twelve-cylinder engine. The 1936 record breaker was completely faired. The aerodynamically perfected body even included the wheels and the underfloor. Developed in the wind tunnel of the Zeppelin works in Friedrichshafen, it had a sensationally low drag coefficient of 0.235. A V12 with 616 hp (453 kW) and a displacement of 5577 cubic centimetres delivered the power. The world record set by Caracciola was 333.5 km/h for the ten miles with flying start; his top speed was 372 km/h.
    432.7 km/h on a public road

    Another spectacular product of the wind tunnel, this time the one belonging to Deutsche Versuchsanstalt f�r Luftfahrt (German Aviation Research Laboratories) in Berlin-Adlershof, with a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.157, was the 1938 record variant of the W 125. With it, on 28 January 1938 Rudolf Caracciola produced records for public roads which have held to this day: 432.7 km/h for the kilometre with flying start and a top speed of 436.9 km/h in one direction. Attempting to break the records a few hours later, Auto Union's star driver Bernd Rosemeyer lost his life: travelling at full speed, his car was struck by a gust of wind that pushed it off the autobahn.
    The W 125 was propelled by the latest evolutionary stage of the 5.6-liter twelve-cylinder engine. Two Roots blowers boosted its output to 736 hp (541 kW) at 5800 rpm. A preliminary version of the 6.25-meter-long record vehicle tended to loose ground contact at 400 km/h. That was why Rudolf Uhlenhaut minimised the frontal area, thereby reducing the radiator's flow resistance. Just two small nostrils supplied intake air to the huge V12. Optimal working temperatures over the short distances in question were looked after by the conventional radiator of the W 125, embedded in a chest filled with half a cubic meter of water and ice and resting on two supports in front of the engine.
    In 1939 specialisation had made such advances that two record-breaking versions for class D (two to three litres displacement) were developed from the contemporary
    W 154: one car for the flying start records (398.2 km/h for the kilometre, 399.6 km/h for the mile) and another variant with faired wheels and a characteristically notched section in the cockpit for the standing sprint (175.1 km/h for the kilometre, 204.6 km/h for the mile).
    The record version of the W 154, developing 468 hp (468 kW) at 7800 rpm, was largely based on the three-litre road racer, not least in terms of its chassis. As much of its weight as possible had been shed for its special assignment, the car tipping the scales at 949 kilograms (without driver). An ice-cooling system had been relocated to the rear axle and thereby also improved traction. There can be no doubt that this record breaker looked the way a streamlined Grand Prix racer of the brand might possibly have.

    Quite the opposite was true of the 8.24-meter-long T 80 of the same year, designed by Ferdinand Porsche in order to annihilate the existing world record of 484 km/h established by Malcolm Campbell. It was armed with the DB 603 RS aircraft engine, an 807-kilogram V12 generating a massive 3500 hp (2574 kW) from 44,500 cc at 3640 rpm. However, the T 80 was never used. With the beginning of World War II, history had other priorities to set, and there was no more room for speed records. Today the T 80 is displayed in the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
  6. Mercedes-Benz record-breaking cars from 1934 to 1939 � Technical data
    W 25 streamliner, 1934

    * Engine: supercharged eight-cylinder in-line four-stroke petrol engine
    * Displacement: 3360 cc
    * Output: 430 hp (316 kW)
    * Top speed: 318 km/h

    W 25 streamliner, 1936

    * Engine: V12 four-stroke petrol engines with two superchargers,
    60 degrees
    * Displacement: 5577 cc
    * Output: 616 hp (453 kW)
    * Top speed: 372 km/h

    W 125 record version, 1938

    * Engine: V12 four-stroke petrol engine with two superchargers, 60 degrees
    * Displacement: 5577 cc
    * Output: 736 hp (541 kW)
    * Top speed: 433 km/h

    W 154 record version, 1939

    * Engine: V12 four-stroke petrol engine with two superchargers,
    60 degrees
    * Displacement: 2963 cc
    * Output: 468 hp (344 kW)
    * Top speed: approx. 400 km/h

    T 80, 1939

    * Engine: supercharged four-stroke petrol engine with direct injection and charge air cooling
    * V12 with a cylinder angle of 60 degrees
    * Displacement: 44,500 cc
    * Output: 3500 hp (2574 kW)
    * Top speed: 650 km/h
  7. The link: Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 194, 1952/1953)

    * Racing sports coup� developed in just nine months
    * Gullwing doors a technical necessity � and yet accounting for the 300 SL's cult status
    * Victories on the N�rburgring, in Le Mans, Bern and the Carrera Panamericana

    The 300 SL racing sports coup� is an important link in the racing history of
    Mercedes-Benz. As first sports car of the brand after the Second World War in 1952, and very successful to boot, it put new life into motor sports before Silver Arrows again were sent into the fray in 1954.

    When the Second World War came to an end, Mercedes-Benz's first concern was reconstruction � it was only after 1950 that Neubauer's racing department began thinking about competing again. A first attempt was the participation of the last pre-war Silver Arrow W 154 in two races in Argentina. Hermann Lang, Karl Kling and Argentinean Juan Manuel Fangio put up a good fight in Buenos Aires, but the performance of swift but heavy cars no longer sufficed to score victories. The 1.5-litre W 165 racing car was never reactivated.

    The parameters for future activities in motor sports were outlined during the all-important Mercedes-Benz management meeting on June 15, 1951, the gist being that top-flight racing and sports cars were the way to go. New racing cars would have to wait until 1954, however. The company's coffers were empty; the Formula One regulations applicable at the time would expire at the end of the year, and the interim solution for 1952 and 1953, corresponding to the contemporary Formula 2 with two-litre displacement, did not comply with the brand's profile and product range. But a sports car took shape quickly after Alfred Neubauer and Prince Wilhelm von Urach, deputy of Chief Engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut, had reported about the Le Mans 24 Hours they had watched, also in June that year. The concept of the winning car, a Jaguar XK120C, was convincing: a light frame, a light body, as many standard components as possible. Such a car, Nallinger pointed out, could be set up on the basis of the Mercedes-Benz 300, the saloon with which the Stuttgart enterprise had been steering a middle course between prestige thinking and post-war austerity since April 1951.

    In just nine months the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL � the very first SL � was created; the letters stand for "Sport � Light". The racing sports coup� was presented to the press on 12 March 1952, and demonstrated the following day on the Stuttgart � Heilbronn motorway. The team in charge of concept development and design was led by Rudolf Uhlenhaut. It comprehended the likes of Wolf-Dieter Bensinger, Franz Roller, Manfred Lorscheidt and Ludwig Kraus. The majestic Mercedes-Benz 300 saloon contributed the SL's suspension, slightly modified and made lighter, double wishbones at the front, a swing axle at the rear, and telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers and coil springs all round. The additional torsion bars on the saloon�s rear axle were dispensed with. As to the track, the team opted for a compromise between the two extremes of wide (reducing the negative consequences of camber changes brought about by the swing axle) and narrow (keeping the frontal area small). Because of their lighter weight and their good-natured way of dealing with the negative consequences of the swing axle, 15-inch wheels, initially bolted on as on the production car but later fastened with central locks (of the knock-off type), were preferred to bigger units that might have led to higher mileages and lower temperatures. The 300's brakes (drum diameter 260 millimetres) were carried over as well, their width enlarged to 90 millimetres.

    A large number of parts adopted from the Mercedes-Benz 300

    The 300's four-speed transmission remained almost untouched, while its 265-kilogram high six-cylinder in-line engine was subject to a number of modifications. Three Solex downdraft carburettors and a "sharper" camshaft raised its output from 115 hp (85 kW) to 175 hp (129 kW) at 5200 rpm. To achieve the aforementioned smaller frontal area and to lower the centre of gravity, the engine was installed in the supporting structure at an angle of 50 degrees to the left. This would have severely obstructed access to the spark plugs. So they were relocated from the block to the cylinder head, with corresponding changes to both.

    The tubular space frame as supporting structure, constructed by Franz Roller and his team to Uhlenhaut's specifications, was a filigree latticework of a large number of triangles, absorbing tensile and compression forces. Tests comparing it to the W 154's ladder-type frame with its oval tubes showed that it had about the same stiffness but, at 50 kilograms, was 20 kilograms lighter. Apart from acting as the SL's backbone, the space frame also supported its body.

    To ensure maximum stability, the space frame reached high up at the sides. This design necessitated the use of the legendary gullwing doors with entry from above across the broad vehicle sides. Initially the doors' lower edge was at the level of the waistline, apart from chassis number six that first appeared at the model's Mille Miglia racing premiere in early May 1952. From the Le Mans 24 Hours in mid-June onward, the doors extended into the sides of the aluminium bodies. The 300 SL�s bodywork, too, was a design masterpiece with its smooth plainness and the narrow roof structure, as borne out by a drag coefficient as low as Cd = 0.25. Its oval grille resembled the W 154's, harking back on the great pre-war tradition. The first two bodies were made by skilled panel-beaters on a wooden form in the Untert�rkheim works, the others � seven had been envisaged in September 1951 � at the Sindelfingen testing department.

    On 3 May 1952 the 300 SL took the start at the Mille Miglia. Karl Kling and Hans Klenk took second place in the thousand mile race. Rudolf Caracciola finished fourth. It was not a victory yet, but Mercedes-Benz was the only brand that could boast two cars among the first five finishers. At the Bern Prize for Sports Cars on 18 May the 300 SL managed a triple win: Karl Kling crossed the finish line ahead of Hermann Lang and Fritz Riess. The race in Bern was overshadowed by the severe accident of Rudolf Caracciola, which put an end to his racing career.

    A double victory in the renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans underscored not only the performance of the gullwing car but its durability too: the team of Lang/Riess finished first ahead of Helfrich/Niedermayr. At the Grand Prix Jubilee for Sports Cars on the N�rburgring in August, the 300 SL competed in a new form: four coup�s had been converted to roadsters, and one of them took the start with a shorter wheelbase and narrower track. The fours cars triumphantly crossed the finish line in the order Hermann Lang, Karl Kling, Fritz Riess and Theo Helfrich.

    But the double victory of Karl Kling/Hans Klenk and Hermann Lang/Erwin Grupp in the Carrera Panamericana caused an even bigger stir: In November 1952 the German drivers captured the title in the race in faraway South America. The exotic flair of the long-distance event is underscored by the collision of team Kling/Klenk with a vulture that crashed through their windscreen. After that the 300 SL the continued the race with a protective grille in front of the glass.

    Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 194)

    * Entered in racing: 1952/53
    * Engine: six-cylinder in-line four-stroke petrol engine
    * Displacement: 2996 cc
    * Output: 175 hp (129 kW)
    * Top speed: 240 km/h
  8. The Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows of 1954/1955

    * Great variability: Body and wheelbase matched to the racetrack
    * Race organisation with outstanding precision
    * Brilliant record: nine victories and fastest laps as well as eight pole positions in twelve Grand Prix races and the world champion�s titles in 1954 and 1955 for Juan Manuel Fangio

    The Mercedes-Benz W 196 R designed for the 1954 season met all the demands of the new Grand Prix formula decreed by the sport's governing body, the CSI (Commission Sportive Internationale): a capacity of 750 cc with or 2500 cc without supercharger, free choice of gas mixture, a racing distance of 300 kilometres or a minimum of three hours. The streamlined version was completed first because the Reims race kicking off the season permitted very high speeds. After that there was also a version with exposed wheels.
    Fritz Nallinger was in charge of the project as a whole, ably assisted by Rudolf Uhlenhaut, Chief Engineer of the racing department since 1 September 1936, and after the war also head of the Car Testing department, who influenced the development decisively. Uhlenhaut headed a team of engineers including Hans Scherenberg, Ludwig Kraus, Manfred Lorscheidt, Hans Gassmann, and Karl-Heinz G�schel, as well as further top-level staff of the company. And although, yet again, in the case of the W 196 R, the whole was much more than the sum of its parts, every component is worth mentioning: cutting-edge technology in terms of its era, in spite of the fact that, in some cases, there had been precedents in the history of motor sports.

    This silver masterpiece, of which 14 units including a prototype were built, drove its competitors to despair in the following two years. Its original streamlined body was both expedient and visually appealing. From the German Grand Prix on the N�rburgring in early August 1954 onward, however, an open-wheel (monoposto) version also formed part of the line-up. Its tubular space frame was light and sturdy, its suspension with torsion bars and a new single-joint swing axle at the rear as well as the giant, turbo-cooled, and at first centrally arranged Duplex drum brakes were unconventionally good. The eight-cylinder in-line engine with direct injection and desmodromic valve control (1954: 256 hp (188 kW) at 8260 rpm, 1955: 290 hp (213 kW) at 8500 rpm) was installed into the space frame at an angle of 53 degrees to the right to lower the centre of gravity and reduce the frontal area. What's more, meticulous preparations for each individual race harked back to the glorious 1930s while at the same time anticipating the modern Formula One approach. But there was something else as well: so as to have the best cars in the world raced by the best drivers, racing manager Alfred Neubauer hired the � initially reluctant � superstar Juan Manuel Fangio, plus the up-and-coming Stirling Moss in 1955 � a virtually invincible pairing.

    Two versions: monoposto car and streamliner

    The two versions of the W 196 R were interchangeable quite effortlessly. Chassis number ten, for instance, glittering with former glory in its brand-new aluminium body one day, was entered with open wheels in the 1955 Argentinean Grand Prix (driven by Hans Herrmann, Karl Kling and Moss to fourth place) and the Dutch Grand Prix (with Moss at the wheel, finishing as runner-up), and fully streamlined again performed tests in Monza. Which of them was used depended upon the peculiarities of the circuit, the strategy chosen and the likes and dislikes of the respective driver.

    The W 196 R featured a swing axle with low pivot point instead of the customary De Dion layout � a configuration explained by Uhlenhaut with its better behaviour under acceleration. An almost perfect balance was achieved by positioning heavy elements in the extremities of the W 196 R, the water and oil coolers right at the front, the tanks holding petrol and oil in the tail. In 1955 the front drum brakes were relocated into the wheels on some cars, while three wheelbase lengths were available: 2150 millimetres, 2210 millimetres, and 2350 millimetres. The shortest was ideally suited for the tight round-the-houses circuit in Monaco, at the same time it had an ambience of stocky purposefulness. But it did not, of course, prevent the disaster that struck the silver cars on that 22nd day of May: Hans Herrmann suffered a severe accident during a practice session, Fangio had to retire from the race with a broken propeller shaft, and both Moss and replacement driver Andr� Simon in the third Silver Arrow with engine damage.

    The engine as a high-precision machine

    As usual, before a fully-fledged eight-cylinder engine gave its first roar on the test rig, a single-cylinder test unit with 310 cc and four valves had to go through its paces. This solution uncovered a deficiency the Silver Arrows' racing engines had already struggled with in the 1930s, namely valve-gear problems when exceeding 8000 rpm and above all fragile springs. Going home after work in a streetcar in the evening of 20 May 1952, suburban commuter Hans Gassmann came up with the answer, presenting it the next morning. Cam lobes and rocker arms would control both the opening and closing of the valves so that one could make do without springs. The advantages of that concept were obvious: higher revs, more safety, greater power. As it also permitted to employ larger and heavier valves, the engineers opted for two valves per cylinder.

    The injection pump, developed together with Bosch and not unlike the ones used in diesel engines, consisted of a casing with eight cylinders which fed the gas straight into the combustion chambers at a pressure of 100 kilograms per cubic centimetre. The eight-cylinder in-line configuration was inspired by the famous 18/100 hp Grand Prix car of 1914 in that the cylinders (two groups of four, with central power take-off) were firmly connected to a base plate, though bolted to an aluminium casing separate from the valve gear housing and surrounded by a welded-on cooling-water jacket. The fuel used was a highly reactive Esso mixture with code RD 1, concocted from 45 percent benzene, 25 percent methanol, 25 percent 110/130 octane petrol, three percent acetone und two percent nitro-benzene. This blend would have eaten away a tank made of unprotected steel overnight, as Hans Herrmann remembers.

    The W 196 R's track record was impressive indeed: nine victories and fastest laps, as well as eight pole positions in the twelve Grand Prix races in which it was entered, and, of course, Fangio's world champion�s titles in 1954 and 1955. There was little room for improvement.

    Mercedes-Benz W 196 R

    * Entered in racing: 1954/55
    * Engine: eight-cylinder in-line four-stroke petrol engine with direct injection
    * Displacement: 2496 cc
    * Output: 256 hp (188 kW), later boosted to up to 290 hp (213 kW)
    * Top speed: over 300 km/h
  9. Colourful exception: Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR (1955)

    * Two seats and one Grand Prix engine
    * Space frame weighing just 60 kilograms
    * Record time established by Stirling Moss in the 1955 Mille Miglia unbroken to this day

    The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR is a colourful exception in the racing history of the brand. It is based partly on the technology of the successful Grand Prix car, but also has the body of a road racer. It secured major victories for the brand in 1955 and did its part to establish its fame.

    The 300 SLR was planned for the 1954 season, and the company already had entered it in the Le Mans 24-hour race, but then withdrew it at short notice � the car wasn't ready yet. As late as September 1954 a prototype hit the track in Monza for a couple of test laps, with a dry weight of 860 kilograms including two spare wheels in its luggage compartment. Even Rome wasn't built in a day, and the silver racing roadster was a premium product � as robust as a tank but as agile as a jungle cat, as eloquent 300 SLR driver John Fitch put it in his autobiography, Racing with Mercedes. Its internal designation W 196 S already indicated its close family relationship with the contemporary Grand Prix Silver Arrows, upon which it was indeed modelled in most respects. Its 2982 cc engine, with two millimetres more bore and a stroke increased by 9.2 millimetres, was the most powerful version of the W 196 R's eight-cylinder in-line unit and delivered 296 hp (218 kW) at 7400 rpm. The recommended engine speed, output and tank size changed according to the characteristics of the forthcoming race, from a sprint event such as the Eifel race on the N�rburgring over 228.1 kilometres to a marathon like Le Mans. As of yore forty years earlier, the basic concept of a one-piece unit combining the head and the cylinders was left untouched, the two cylinder blocks with four combustion units each being made of silumin, a lightweight high-strength aluminium alloy, instead of steel, unlike the W 196 R's engine. At a ready-for-installation weight of 235 kilograms, this engine sported surprising stamina. One specimen was tortured on the dynamometer at racing revs for 9800 kilometres plus another 32 hours. Only its oil rings were exchanged after 5945 kilometres. Canted to the right at an angle of 57 degrees, it was installed into the SLR chassis four degrees closer to the horizontal than in the W 196 R's, though ground clearance was a great deal higher than the single-seater's, in view of the gruelling circuits on public roads that were part of the championship cycle. It was fuelled by a mixture of 75 percent commercial petrol, 15 percent methanol and ten percent benzene.
    Almost untouched, though fine-honed for the special requirements of, for instance, the two Italian races, was the W 196 R's wheel suspension with double wishbones at the front and a swing axle at the rear. The lavishly ramified space frame of the sports car, 60 kilograms light, had, by contrast, been derived from the 300 SL of 1952, a latticework of tubes 25 millimetres in diameter and one millimetre in wall thickness, above all along the sides below the doors, and with stronger braces in the area of the suspension. After all, there had to be space for two, and Ludwig Kraus, the engineer responsible for the chassis, and his team had to allow for the parameters laid down in FIA Appendix J, specifying two doors and the passenger compartment dimensions. In spite of this, the driver sat with his legs straddled over the clutch tunnel, as in a Grand Prix racer. The detachable steering wheel was located on the left side, unlike its Jaguar or Ferrari opponents', although the latter were better equipped that way for European circuits which were driven in clockwise direction.

    Only in the Mille Miglia, two of four drivers were actually accompanied by navigators: red-bearded English motoring journalist Denis Jenkinson supported Stirling Moss. Hans Hermann was accompanied by Fangio's mechanic Hermann Eger. Fangio himself and Karl Kling preferred to embark on the race alone. A strange job fell to the lot of the second man on board: he had to sound the horn if necessary since the wizard at the wheel had his hands full keeping the car under control.

    Braking aids improve deceleration

    In Le Mans, the silver two-seaters caused quite a stir with unconventional braking aids. Via four push-buttons, a dash of oil could be squirted on the respective brake drum when one of the brakes locked, something that happened quite often to vehicles of all brands. And actuated manually by the driver, an air brake was erected from the SLR's rear into the air stream when required. The effect was remarkable: the car had been restrained as if by some invisible rubber strap, John Fitch remembered, and Moss pointed out that the air brake � while still on its way down into rest position � definitely increased traction when accelerating out of the corners.

    The device was used once again in the Swedish Grand Prix (for sports cars) at Kristianstad in early August, which did not count towards the world championship. For the journey to that race, guest driver Count Wolfgang Berghe von Trips arrived in one of two enclosed SLR versions which Uhlenhaut had had developed for future long-distance races. They were never used in competition. Hellishly loud, they mainly served for the personal transport of the racing department's boss, and so got the nickname Uhlenhaut coup�. It was no wonder that, at that time already, Uhlenhaut's hearing had been severely impaired.

    Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR (W 196 S)

    * Entered in racing: 1955
    * Engine: eight-cylinder in-line four-stroke petrol engine with direct injection
    * Displacement: 2982 cc
    * Output: 310 hp (228 kW)
    * Top speed: over 300 km/h
  10. The races of 1954 and 1955

    * Juan Manuel Fangio world champion in both years in a Mercedes-Benz
    * 300 SLR guarantee of successes with racing sports cars in 1955 � and winner of the "Constructor's Prize"

    In early 1953 the then Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler-Benz AG, Fritz K�necke, formulated the grand goal for the resumption of international racing activities: Mercedes-Benz should capture the double world championship in 1954, in the Formula One and for sports car, with factory drivers.

    In the second European race of the season, the French Grand Prix, the new Silver Arrows took the start for the first time. In training the fully faired W 196 R had posted the fastest time, and now, at their racing debut on the 4th of July in Reims, they would exceed all expectations of the public and the competition. The newly engaged Argentinean driver Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling won a double victory in their streamlined monoposto cars. This sensational success also had historic implications, for exactly 40 years earlier, on 4 July 1914, Mercedes racing cars won the French Grand Prix in Lyon.
    Mercedes-Benz concentrated on winning the title of World Champion for Juan Manuel Fangio in 1954. In the British Grand Prix on 17 July in Silverstone Fangio had only finished fourth in the streamlined car, whose contours were hard to overlook on winding courses. But Uhlenhaut had sped up the construction of the second variant of the W 196 R, this one in the classic Grand Prix car design with exposed wheels. In the remaining races in 1954 there was always at least one Silver Arrow driver on the winner's rostrum. Fangio won the German, Swiss and Italian Grand Prix races and placed third in Spain; Hans Hermann came in third in Switzerland. Fangio's victory on 22 August in Bern-Bremgarten in the Swiss Grand Prix already made him the Formula One World Champion for 1954.

    With the improved Grand Prix car and the 300 SLR (W 196 S) racing sports car based on it, the Racing department then actually did go out in 1955 to get the two titles. Alongside World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio, Neubauer brought Briton Stirling Moss into the team as second star. In the course of the 1955 season, Peter Collins, Werner Engel, John Fitch, Olivier Gendebien, Hans Herrmann, Karl Kling, Pierre Levegh, Andr� Simon, Piero Taruffi, Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips and others drove for Mercedes-Benz along with Fangio and Moss.

    The 1955 racing season opened with the Grand Prix of Argentina, a hot-weather race from which Fangio emerged as winner. Fourteen days later he also won the Grand Prix of Buenos Aires. On this 30th of January 1955, four Silver Arrows took the start with the three-litre engine which was also to be fitted in the new Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racing sports car. Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss scored a double victory in this high-speed test, and Karl Kling came in fourth.

    The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR had its competitive premiere on May Day in the Thousand Miles of Brescia. Four of the new cars lined up at the start, and the young Briton Stirling Moss won the race with his co-driver Denis Jenkinson � the first foreigner since Rudolf Caracciola (1931 winner in a Mercedes-Benz SSKL) to do so. Moss posted the best time ever stopped in the Mille Miglia: ten hours, seven minutes and 48 seconds, which figures out to an average speed of 157.65 km/h. Fangio, driving alone, came in second.

    The W 196 R Grand Prix racer with its different wheelbases and body versions featured a large range of variation. Which version was used depended upon the peculiarities of the circuit, the strategy chosen and the likes and dislikes of the respective driver. Common to the individual versions are technical details like the swing axle with low pivot point and the eight-cylinder engine.

    In the 300 SLR, at the end of May Fangio won the 18th Eifel race before Moss, and also won the Belgian Grand Prix in June in a W 196 R. Disaster followed these triumphs, in June, in Le Mans, where three 300 SLR started: Pierre Levegh's racing sports car was involved in a collision owing to a risky manoeuvre by another car; his 300 SLR was hurled into the stands; the disaster claimed 82 lives and injured 91 persons. Under the impression of this horrible accident, Daimler-Benz decided to withdraw Moss, who was in the lead, from the race. The tragic accident overshadowed the rest of the season.
    In the Dutch Grand Prix a 1-2 win by Fangio and Moss in the W 196 R followed. The young British star Stirling Moss then won the British Grand Prix in a short-wheelbase
    W 196 R, followed by Fangio, Kling and Taruffi. This was a sensation for the British public: for the first time an Englishman had won this major race in his home country.
    In the sports car race for the Swedish Grand Prix, Fangio again finished ahead of Moss in the 300 SLR; Karl Kling complemented this double victory with a win in the sports car class in a 300 SL. One of the two 300 SLR Coup�s designed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut also was along for the ride in Sweden as a training car. The Coup�s were never entered in a competition though.

    In the competition for the Italian Grand Prix on 11 September 1955 the W 196 R Silver Arrows gave their last performance. As four of the season's events had been cancelled, this simultaneously was the first appearance made by the aerodynamically faired, streamlined racing cars in 1955. The W 196 R with exposed wheels competed in all the other races. After extensive alterations, Monza presented itself as a high-speed course on which the field passed the grandstand twice. Because of the high average speed allowed by this course, Neubauer decided that Fangio and Moss should start in the streamlined car with the long wheelbase. Kling got a monoposto with a conventional body and medium wheelbase, Taruffi started in a short "Monaco" car. Unchallenged, Fangio brought home his last victory for Mercedes-Benz, followed by Piero Taruffi, just 0.7 seconds behind him. With 40 points, the Argentinean champion became Formula One World Champion in that season for the third time; Stirling Moss (23) was runner-up.

    But it was still not clear whether the second goal of the Racing department for 1955 would be achieved. Alfred Neubauer recalls: "There is just a little blemish on the medal: the racing sports car world championship, also called the 'constructor's prize', hardly is going to end up in our possession. The competition for the 'constructor's prize' was held for the first time in 1953. It doesn't go to the driver, but to the company whose car wins. Ferrari has a clear lead and hardly can be caught � unless a miracle happens."
    On 17 September, three 300 SLR took the start at the Tourist Trophy in Northern Ireland, and the miracle longed for by Neubauer came to pass: Stirling Moss and John Cooper Fitch won the race ahead of the 300 SLR of Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling. Third place was taken by Wolfgang Berghe von Trips, who had experience racing the 300 SL, but was driving the 300 SLR for the first time in competition, and Andr� Simon.

    The Sicilian adventure called the Targa Florio, in mid-October, finally secured the manufacturer's championship for Mercedes-Benz. Rival Ferrari could not be allowed to do any better than third place there. And so it came to pass � great effort being taken to make sure of it. Eight racing cars and eight heavy trucks as well as 15 other cars were heaved out of the ferry from Naples in Palermo. They had 45 mechanics to look after them. SLR driver Stirling Moss likes to emphasise that he never experienced such a measure of preparation, such precision und logistical effort again during his entire long career.
    Neubauer brooded over the tactics: "I had never planned a race more thoroughly and carefully. I mustered all my experience, my skill, my tricks, my love, and invested it in this 1955 Targa Florio." Perhaps the most important plan of the racing strategist involved the change of drivers: contrary to the customary relieving of the driver after three laps, this time the Mercedes-Benz drivers were not supposed to get out of the cockpit until they had completed four laps. Uhlenhaut had the 300 SLR reinforced for the harsh course.

    At 7 a.m. on 16 October 1955 the first car started. Stirling Moss took the lead, but dropped back into third place after an accident. Peter Collins took over the wheel of his car and on his first lap with the dented Mercedes-Benz set a new lap record. Now in the lead, Collins handed over the car to Moss, who won by a margin of four minutes and 55 seconds before Juan Manuel Fangio. John Fitch and Desmond Titterington in the third 300 SLR came in fourth behind Eugenio Castellotti and Robert Manzon (Ferrari 860 Monza). Mercedes-Benz managed to pull off the double victory needed to win the manufacturer's world championship � the goal had been reached.

    That marked the end of the heyday of the classic Silver Arrows. Prior to the Le Mans disaster Mercedes-Benz already had decided to discontinue the activities of the RacingServer: Orion/2.0.7
    Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2009 18:01:59 GMT

    department following the 1955 season: The expense and effort for the development and production of the racing cars and for providing racing support was immense. Daimler-Benz AG had more urgent need for the energies of the engineers and mechanics to develop new passenger cars. Fritz Nallinger, Board of Management member responsible for Engineering, confirmed this at the ceremony honouring the successful racing drivers on 22 October 1955: "The further development of our product range makes it appear advisable to us to put these highly skilled people to work now, without overtaxing them, solely in an area which is the most interesting to our many customers worldwide, namely the field of production car engineering. The knowledge and experience gained from racing car construction will benefit my employees in this work."

    The withdrawal from racing was an honourable retreat at the peak of success: In 1955 the W 196 R racing cars took part in seven events, winning six of them and taking five second places and one third place. The 300 SLR racing cars started in six races, posting five wins, five second-place finishes and one third-place finish. Mercedes-Benz hardly could have dominated the season more clearly. Further successes by factory drivers and private entrants driving Mercedes-Benz cars complement the results for 1955: Paul O�Shea (USA) in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was class D sports car champion in the United States for the first time. O�Shea also won the title in the following two years. Werner Engel secured the European Rallye Championship in his Mercedes-Benz 300 SL in the same season. Armando Zampiero was Italian sports car champion in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.

    The era of the Silver Arrows on the major racing courses was over for the time being. Many years would pass before Mercedes-Benz returned to championship sports car racing and Formula One. It was a melancholy farewell, as Alfred Neubauer recalls, drawing a line under a grandiose season: The drivers drew white cloths over the cars and said goodbye. "We shook hands once more. Then they drove off, heading for who knows where � Fangio and Moss, Collins, Kli
  11. Manfred von Brauchitsch (1905 - 2003)

    He was the bearer of a famous name. But he did not just lay claim to the dignity that arose from it but exuded a natural charisma himself. Manfred von Brauchitsch was born into a family of pronouncedly military heritage. He nevertheless refused to continue the family tradition but rather set his sights on motor sports. Supported by affluent patrons, he started to compete in Mercedes-Benz sports cars � and proved to be highly successful. Between 1934 and 1939, he was a works driver for Mercedes-Benz. Apart from his brilliant debut in the 1934 Eifel race in a W 25, the highlights of his career were his victories in the 1937 Monaco Grand Prix and above all in the 1938 French Grand Prix.

    After the war, Manfred von Brauchitsch decided in favour of the then German Democratic Republic (GDR), serving as President of the Society for the Promotion of the Olympic Idea for many years. He found it difficult to come to terms with the situation, changed once again, after German reunification in 1990. In his last years, he led a withdrawn life. Many people would have been surprised had they known that he was still with us. Manfred von Brauchitsch died in February 2003.
  12. Rudolf Caracciola (1901 - 1959)

    From 1934, the Rhinelander with Italian ancestors became virtually synonymous with the first-generation Silver Arrows. Six times he was, for instance, victorious in the German Grand Prix, contested on Berlin�s Avus in 1926 and then always on the N�rburgring � 1932 in an Alfa Romeo and on all other occasions with Mercedes-Benz. His European championships in 1935, 1937 and 1938 can well be compared to today's Formula One world championship titles. He was a veritable artist in the rain � and more versatile than most of his competitors, as borne out by his European hillclimb championships between 1930 and 1932, one victory in 1931 and a fourth place (in 1952) in the Millie Miglia, his achievements with the record cars of the brand, and his remarkable performances in the 1930 and 1952 Monte Carlo rallies. Caracciola enjoyed cult status wherever he appeared.
    In three serious accidents � in 1933, 1946 and 1952 � he also got to know the painful side of his trade. He spent the remaining years of his life until his sudden death in September 1959 as a representative of Daimler-Benz, especially at product launches and motor sports events. In-between, he lived a secluded life in his beautiful villa, Casa Scania, in Ruvigliana, a posh quarter of Lugano high above the lake of the same name.
  13. Luigi Fagioli (1898 - 1952)

    In racing terms, Luigi Fagioli, affectionately called "The Old Abruzzi Robber" by all who liked him, was a late developer. Not before 1926, at the age of 28, did he compete in his first race. In 1930 he won his first race, the Coppa Principe di Piemonte, in a Maserati. In 1933 Fagioli became Italian champion for the Alfa Romeo squad run by Enzo Ferrari. He did not look like a racing driver. But behind the wheel he stood out because of his stamina and passion.

    These characteristics earned him an invitation to join the Mercedes-Benz works team in 1934. Fagioli returned the favour with the Grand Prix wins in Monza (shared with Rudolf Caracciola) and in Lasarte, Spain. In 1935, he topped this with another first in the season opener in Monaco. He also justified his inclusion by scoring victories in the Coppa Acerbo in Pescara (1934) as well as on the Avus and in Barcelona (1935). His contract expired in 1936.

    After that he drove for Auto Union, and after the Second World War for Alfa Romeo, where he ranked among the "Three Great F's": Fangio, Farina and Fagioli who by and large fought out the 1951 Formula One races among themselves. While practicing for the 1952 Monaco Grand Prix, which was held for sports cars only in that year, he lost control of his Lancia in the tunnel and crashed into a stone balustrade. "The Old Abruzzi Robber" died on 20 June 1952, three weeks after the accident.
  14. Juan Manuel Fangio (1911 - 1995)

    In the life of Juan Manuel Fangio, everything fell into place to produce perfection � a parable of how far a man can go. He was born in 1911 in Balcarce in Argentina, 400 kilometres south of Buenos Aires. Both parents came from Italy. It was equally in Balcarce that Fangio was laid to rest in July 1995.

    At the advanced age of 37, he drove his first Grand Prix in Reims in 1948. He competed in his last Grand Prix in 1958, 37 years before his death, once again at Reims whose long finishing straight gave a driver ample opportunity to think. It was there that he made up his mind to call it a day.

    During the intervening decade he was busy building his own legend. With 24 victories in 51 Grand Prix races, Fangio attained a success rate of almost 50 percent. In 48 Grand Prix races he started from the front row. His five world championships, in 1951 for Alfa Romeo, in 1954 and 1955 for Mercedes-Benz, in 1956 in a Ferrari and a year later at the wheel of a Maserati, bestowed an aura of invincibility on him.

    He was forty when he notched up his first title � at an age at which modern Formula One has completely worn out its heroes. On 16 January 1955, he won his home race, the Argentinean Grand Prix, for Mercedes-Benz. In the Mille Miglia in May 1955, he contested without a navigator, all alone with the 300 SLR sports racer for 1000 miles and ten hours and a half. He finished as runner-up behind his team-mate Stirling Moss.

    Unlike other Mercedes-Benz stalwarts such as Rudolf Caracciola, the great Argentinean's years with Mercedes-Benz were only an episode. Juan Manuel Fangio�s dowry was a victory in Reims, on 4 July 1954, and he bowed out with his tenth win for the brand in Monza on 11 September 1955. Because of that alone the names of Juan Manuel Fangio and Mercedes-Benz are bound up inseparably forever.
  15. Karl Kling (1910 - 2003)

    Young engineer Karl Kling looked after customer cars highly responsibly after joining Daimler-Benz in 1936. However, the young man, born in Giessen on 16 September 1910, would have preferred to climb behind the wheel of a racing car. The son of a teacher, Karl Kling trained as a vehicle mechanic before studying in Giessen. And he had the opportunity to compete in touring car races in Mercedes-Benz cars. After World War II, he drove a Mercedes-Benz 170 S to victory in the touring car category in the ADAC six-hour race on the N�rburgring in 1950. As early as the following year, Kling lined up at the start in a genuine Silver Arrow for the first time, driving a pre-war W 154 racing car in Argentina. His team-mates were Hermann Lang and Juan Manuel Fangio.

    The highlight in Kling�s career was the year 1952 when he raced the new Mercedes-Benz 300 SL sports car: victory in the Bern Grand Prix for sports cars and two second places � in the Mille Miglia and in the Anniversary Grand Prix for sports cars on the N�rburgring � were more than respectable results. Kling�s legendary race, however, was staged in Mexico where he won the 1952 Carrera Panamericana together with his navigator Karl Klenk, despite the fact that a vulture crashed into their car�s windshield.
    In 1954, the year of Mercedes-Benz�s return to Grand Prix racing, Kling was a member of the Silver Arrow team and finished in second place behind Fangio in the very first race in Reims on 4 July 1954. In the German Grand Prix, Kling drove the fastest lap, and he won the Avus race in Berlin at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz W 196.

    After his retirement in 1968, the former racing driver continued to support Daimler-Benz as a consultant. Karl Kling died on 18 March 2003 in his house on Lake Constance where he had led a withdrawn life after his wife�s death.
  16. Hermann Lang (1909 - 1987)

    Hermann Lang started from scratch in the motor racing hierarchy, with motorbike exploits, only to be thrown back in his promising career by the 1932 recession. Eventually he managed to find a place in the Daimler-Benz test department and became Luigi Fagioli's racing mechanic. But never did he lose sight of his objective to become a racing driver himself, and in 1935 his dreams came true. During tests in Monza, he was discovered as a driver and subsequently promoted by racing manager Alfred Neubauer. In his debut in that year's Eifel race, the order was Rosemeyer, Caracciola, Lang after a couple of laps. The young driver came off the track at Pflanzgarten but that could stop him only briefly as he succeeded in manhandling the weighty 750-kilogram W 25 back onto the circuit, finishing fifth.

    And this was not the end of his successes. Between 1937 and 1939, Hermann Lang won the Tripoli Grand Prix three times. In 1939 he became European champion, with firsts in Spa and Bern. His comeback at the beginning of the 1950s was promising and culminated in his 1952 Le Mans win at the helm of the 300 SL together with Fritz Riess. But when his car skidded off course during the 1954 German Grand Prix, Lang called it a day. In subsequent years, he worked as an inspector in the Mercedes-Benz field organisation, stubbornly withholding his former identity. Hermann Lang died in Bad Cannstatt in 1987.
  17. Stirling Moss (born 1929)

    Stirling Moss is a fixed star in the galaxy of racing drivers that has lost little of its radiation to the present day. Sixteen victories and pole positions, as well as 19 fastest laps in 66 Grand Prix races went to his credit, to the tune of innumerable successes in other categories and accompanied by loads of charisma.

    He had already flirted with Mercedes-Benz as early as 1954. Racing manager Alfred Neubauer, however, who had the final say in personnel matters, deemed neither the time nor Moss ripe for the three-pointed star. But the candidate quickly commended himself, delivering a couple of solid performances in a Maserati. In July 1955, he won his home Grand Prix in Aintree for Mercedes-Benz, split-seconds ahead of Juan Manuel Fangio. His legendary victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia, at the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR and supported by navigator Denis Jenkinson, has remained unforgotten to this day. After the withdrawal of Daimler-Benz from motor racing at the end of the 1955 season, Moss joined the private racing team of Rob Walker. A serious accident at Goodwood put an end to his brilliant career in 1962. Before he had completely recovered, and still unable to walk properly, he sat at the wheel of a racing car for tests, but the result was shattering. His reflexes were as good as they used to be, but he could not concentrate any longer the way a racing driver has to. "Someone who does not drive fast and safely," he said, "ought to throw in the towel, if only out of consideration for his competitors." He called it a day but has since been revered as the gentleman of motor racing � and a highly popular guest at historical motor sport events.
  18. Richard Seaman (1913 - 1939)

    "He whom the gods love dies young" � that comforting message is from the Roman poet Plautus. "Now the racing driver's lot has befallen him, too," was the last sentence of an obituary in the German publication Kraftverkehrs-Pressedienst of 28 June 1939. Three days before, Richard ("Dick") Seaman, leading the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa in pouring rain with his W 154, had crashed into a tree. The car was ablaze in no time; the unfortunate driver with the green dust cap, dazed by the impact and having suffered a fracture of the hand, was unable to extricate himself from the wreck. He succumbed to his severe burns in the evening of that day, at the age of just 26.

    The irony was cruel: eleven months had passed since Seaman's greatest hour when he had won the German Grand Prix on the N�rburgring for Mercedes-Benz, leading home Hermann Lang by over three minutes.
    Seaman, born as the son of a wealthy and reputable family, indulged in private driving lessons by the chauffeur of the Seaman's Daimler already at a tender age. He lived a carefree life in London and on beautiful country estates, and spent the summers in France. Initially, his mother financed his passion for motor racing. "If ever I could drive for Mercedes, I would not touch the steering wheel of another car any more," he used to say. Indeed he received an invitation to tests from racing manager Alfred Neubauer at the end of 1936 and signed a contract the following year. And he opted for living in Germany � at a time when his mother had long since cut off the money supply from the family fortune. When her son married Erika Popp, daughter of BMW chairman Franz-Josef Popp, in December 1938, Dick Seaman's relationship with his family was beyond repair.
  19. #19 ajzahn, Feb 2, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
  20. #20 WhiteChocolateWorld, Feb 2, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    Great stuff.

    What did MB do to the Silver Arrow SL of the early 2000's? As in what was special about it or was it just a paint job and a badge?

    EDIT: nvm, found it from some shitty website...

    Available in both SL500 and SL600 models, each SL Silver Arrow Edition receives a host of special equipment. Both models receive Silver Arrow metallic paint; fully-lined black soft top; brushed aluminum instrument cluster with chrome bezels; aluminum trim on the wind deflector, shift gate, pedals, grille and trunk lid. In addition, unique mechanical componentry includes new multipiece, six-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels with 245/45ZR18 and 275/35ZR18-inch tires front and rear; factory-drilled brake rotors front and rear; Xenon high-intensity gas discharge headlights and a six-disc CD changer.

    Inside, Silver Arrow SL500s feature two-tone leather upholstery in silver and black for both seats and door panels and leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob. Silver Arrow SL600s receive black leather upholstery with silver perforations, a combination leather/black bird's eye maple steering wheel and shift knob, plus a Panorama hardtop and multicontour seats. These model-year 2002 limited-production SL Silver Arrows will begin availability in April, 2001.

  21. #21 umer9, Mar 9, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    A 1939 Mercedes-Benz W154 Silver Arrow was specially featured at Lime Rock Park’s Vintage Festival September 4-7, 2009.

    A stellar attraction of the legendary period from 1934 to 1939, the W154 represented the apogee of the supercharger era of Mercedes-Benz’s racing vehicles. Rudolf Carraciola drove a Silver Arrow to the Grand Prix world title in 1938. The car dominated again in 1939, piloted by Hermann Lang.
  22. i remember that edition. By 2001-2002, the SL was so horribly outdated, the previous gen XK was eating it's sales pretty good.

    it had like diamond plate aluminum on the dash and shit.

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