Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mercedes-Benz 2.5-liter racing car W 196 R, 1954

Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps, 5. Juni 1955: Juan Manuel Fangio in a Mercedes-Benz W 196 R number 10.

In 1954 Mercedes-Benz returned to Grand Prix with a completely newly developed racing car. The W 196 R was built in accordance with the conditions of the new Grand Prix formula defined by the CSI (Commission Sportive Internationale). These conditions included a displacement limit of 750 cc with supercharger or 2,500 cc without a supercharger. The fuel composition was arbitrary. The Mercedes-Benz engineers developed a 2.5-litre engine which initially produced an output of 188 kW (256 hp) at 8,260 rpm from a displacement of 2,496 cc. In 1955, the output duly rose to 213 kW (290 hp) at 8,500 rpm. The aerodynamically optimised streamlined version was the first to be built for the 1954 season, because the first race in Reims (France) allowed very high speeds. A second variant with open wheels followed in due course. The spaceframe of the W 196 R was light and sturdy; the chassis had a torsion-rod suspension and a new single-joint swing rear axle as well as huge turbo-cooled Duplex drum brakes. To power the vehicle, the engineers chose an eight-cylinder in-line engine with direct injection and desmodromic (positively opened and closed) springless valves, which made high engine speeds above 8,000 rpm possible. In the opening race, the French Grand Prix on 4 July 1954, Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling drove W 196 R streamlined racing cars to a double victory. Fangio finished the season as World Champion. In the improved version of the streamlined car, he also won the last race in which the W 196 R competed – the 1955 Italian Grand Prix. This sealed Fangio’s second world championship title driving the Silver Arrows.
Technical data – Mercedes-Benz 2.5-litre streamlined racing car W 196 R Period of use: 1954 to 1955
Cylinders: 8/in-line
Displacement: 2,497 cc
Output: 188 kW (256 hp) to 213 kW (290 hp)
Top speed: more than 300 km/h

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