This blog will expand on themes and topics first mentioned in my book, "The Automobile and American Life." I hope to comment on recent developments in the automobile industry, reviews of my readings on the history of the automobile, drafts of my new work, contributions from friends, descriptions of the museums and car shows I attend and anything else relevant to those interested in automobiles and auto history. Copyright 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 , 2016, 2017, by the author.
Friday, July 24, 2015
The 1955 Mille Miglia and Mercedes-Benz at Schloss Dyck
Mercedes-Benz 180 D (W 120) in the Classic Insight "1955 success stories", 23 April 2015 in Italy.
Stuttgart. – At the Classic Days Schloss Dyck from 31 July to 2 August 2015, Mercedes-Benz Classic is celebrating the brand's outstanding victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia: Exactly 60 years ago, Mercedes-Benz not only dominated the overall ranking in this legendary road race from Brescia to Rome and back with a double victory by the 300 SLR racing sports car (W 196 S), but also achieved a triple class victory for series production sports cars over 1.3 litres with the 300 SL "Gullwing" (W 198) and with the 180 D Saloon (W 120) in the diesel class.
Mercedes-Benz Brand Ambassadors Ellen Lohr, Roland Asch and Dieter Glemser will present the two class winners of the 1000-mile race held 60 years ago, both in the drivers' paddock and on the track during the special Mercedes-Benz demonstration run. The success of John Cooper Fitch in the series production 300 SL is not only commemorated by the original 1955 car bearing start number 417, but also by the Gullwing-inspired "Mille Miglia 417" special edition of the current Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster (R 231).
Mercedes-Benz Classic is also showing another highlight by presenting the 540 K Streamliner on the orangery terrace. This innovative one-off example was built in 1938 on the based on the sporty Mercedes-Benz flagship model of the 1930s. It impresses with its dynamic appearance as the systematic implementation of scientific findings obtained in the wind tunnel. The aerodynamically optimised body has an excellent drag coefficient of Cd = 0.36. This makes a cruising speed of up to 170 km/h possible - and when assisted by the supercharger the Streamliner is even capable of a 185 km/h top speed. Mercedes-Benz Classic is presenting the 540 K Streamliner as part of the concours d’élégance "Jewels in the Park".
Rhineland Mecca for automotive classics
In 2015 Sir Stirling Moss is a guest of honour at this festival for automotive classics in the park of this moated castle on the Rhine. 60 years ago Moss wrote his name indelibly in the history books of motor racing with his overall victory in the Mille Miglia, driving a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racing sports car and achieving the best ever time in this road race of 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds. Together with his co-driver Denis Jenkinson, Moss led the double Mercedes-Benz victory for the 300 SLR racing sports car ahead of Juan Manuel Fangio, who was driving alone.
Since the first event in 2006, the Classic Days Schloss Dyck have quickly developed into one of the highlight events in the automotive classic calendar. Mercedes-Benz Classic has actively supported this development as a committed partner from the start. Against the backdrop of the moated Dyck Castle in the Rhineland, the Classic Days will once again offer an attractive and rewarding programme of events centred on the culture of classic vehicles. These include access to the drivers' paddock, regularity runs by "racing legends" on the circuit around the castle and the "Classic Meeting" of the brand clubs on the large field outside the castle. Almost 150 classic Mercedes-Benz vehicles owned by private collectors and enthusiasts are expected in the Mercedes-Benz Club area. The castle's hospitality rooms are also exclusively available to members of the Mercedes-Benz brand clubs with reservations.
The exclusive concours d’élégance "Jewels in the Park" will take place on the museum island, where the orangery is also located. Particularly beautiful, elegant and rare vehicles will be presented here. The "Lovely Heroes" from the time of the economic miracle in the 1950s have their very own chapter in automobile history. During the Classic Days there will also be a meeting of historic advertising vehicles under the motto "Made in Germany", and the programme is rounded off by events such as "Charm and Style" with picnics and presentations of past eras, or the classics camping event "Nostalgic Journeys".
The Classic Days Schloss Dyck are open to visitors on Friday, 31 July from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturday, 1 August from 7 a.m. (access for classic vehicles) and 7:30 a.m. (entry for pedestrians) to 6 p.m. and on Sunday, 2 August from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The vehicles from Mercedes-Benz Classic at the Classic Days Schloss Dyck 2015
Mercedes-Benz 540 K Streamliner (W 29, 1938)
Built in 1938, the Mercedes-Benz 540 K Streamliner was the pinnacle of the aerodynamically optimised vehicles developed by Mercedes-Benz in the 1930s. Based on the Stuttgart-based brand's top sports car model, this unique vehicle set benchmarks both in technical and aesthetic terms. It allowed Mercedes-Benz to take the lead in a development that occupied the entire automobile industry at that time: the rapid pace of technical change and the growing network of fast roads enabling higher potential cruising speeds. Consequently, the aerodynamics of powerful passenger cars became increasingly important with regard to efficiency too. With its aluminium body's flowing lines and low silhouette, minimal sources of disturbance on its surface and underbody cladding, the Streamliner applied research findings in an exemplary way, giving it a sensationally low drag coefficient (Cd value) of 0.36. In 2014, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the vehicle to the public once more following lavish restoration.
Technical data for the Mercedes-Benz 540 K Streamliner (W 29) Cylinder arrangement: 8/in-line Displacement: 5401 cc Output: 85 kW (115 hp), with supercharger 132 kW (180 hp) Top speed: 185 km/h
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL "Gullwing" (W 198), 1954-1957)
In February 1954, the 300 SL "Gullwing" (W 198) celebrated its world premiere at the International Motor Sport Show in New York. The Coupé was referred to as the "Gullwing" owing to the roof-mounted doors resembling a gull's wings. The high-speed sports car was based on the legendary 300 SL sports racing car (W 194) from the 1952 season, and was the first series production car with a four-stroke petrol injection engine. With an engine output of 158 kW (215 hp) – a good 20 percent more than the carburettor-equipped racing version of 1952 – the W 198 was in the top echelon of series production sports cars in its day, which also predestined it for racing. Various suspension setups and final drive ratios were available on request for racing purposes, allowing top speeds between around 225 km/h and 250 km/h. One legendary triumph was the triple class victory of the 300 SL series sports car in the 1955 Mille Miglia. John Cooper Fitch achieved fifth place in the overall ranking in his car bearing start number 417, clocking a time of 11 hours, 29 minutes and 21 seconds to head the class for series production sports cars over 1.3 litres. From 1954 to 1957 a total of 1400 units of the 300 SL "Gullwing" were produced, no less than 867 of them in the year of the 1955 Mille Miglia victory.
Technical data for the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL "Gullwing" (W 198) Production period: 1954–1957 Cylinders: 6/in-line Displacement: 2996 cc Output: 158 kW (215 hp) Top speed: up to 250 km/h
Mercedes-Benz 180 D (W 120, 1954 to 1959)
The first diesel engine version of the Mercedes-Benz 180 "Ponton" (W 120) had its debut in January 1954. This meant that the Stuttgart-based brand now also offered its modern saloon with the characteristic "Ponton" silhouette with a diesel engine, which delivered 29 kW (40 hp) from a displacement of 1767 cc. A total of 114,046 units of the 180 D Saloon were produced up to the model facelift in autumn 1959. These diesel saloons, which were capable of speeds up to 110 km/h, cannot be compared with the racing and sports cars that raced to overall victory in the Mille Miglia. But the 180 D was an ultra-modern vehicle at the time, with a self-supporting body and a "subframe" on which the front wheels guided by double wishbone axles were suspended.It demonstrated its strengths and great dependability in the Italian road race: Mercedes-Benz entered several model 180 D cars in the 1955 Mille Miglia, with start numbers 04, 09 and 010A, and they achieved a triple victory in the diesel class. The class winner driven by the Austrians Helmut Retter and Wolfgang Larcher took 16 hours, 52 minutes and 25 seconds for the 1000-mile race.
Technical Data for the Mercedes-Benz 180 D (W 120) – road version)Production period: 1954 to 1959 Cylinders: 4/in-line Displacement: 1767 cc Output: 29 kW (40 hp), from September 1955 32 kW (43 hp) Top speed: 110 km/h
The drivers for Mercedes-Benz Classic at the Classic Days Schloss Dyck 2015
Roland AschBorn on 12 October 1950 in Altingen, Germany
Trained as a master automotive mechanic, Roland Asch began his motor racing career as a hobby at first, but achieved victories like a pro: after winning the German Hill Climb Championship in 1981 and the German Motor Racing Trophy in 1983, his début in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) followed in 1985. In 1988 he finished as the DTM vice-champion driving his own Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16. In the late 1980s, he finished first in the overall standings in the Porsche 944 Turbo Cup three times, and in 1991 won the championship title in the Porsche Carrera Cup. In the early 1990s, he won a total of five victories and delivered a number of other good results in the DTM for Mercedes-Benz. In 1993, he finished as the runner-up in the DTM for the second time, and moved to Ford in the Super Touring Car Cup in 1995. As a Brand Ambassador, Roland Asch has close ties to the Mercedes-Benz brand to this day, and can regularly be seen behind the wheel of important racing cars from the Mercedes-Benz Classic collection during events.
Dieter GlemserBorn on 28 June 1938 in Kirchheim/Teck
His pedal-to-the-metal career kicked off in the 1960 Schorndorf Hill Climb. Numerous class victories in various hill climbs and circuit races at the Nürburgring followed. He started racing for Mercedes-Benz in 1963, when he achieved overall victory in the Poland Rally in a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE and two 2nd places in the Germany Rally (including a class victory) and in the Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix. In the following year he was part of the triple victory by the teams made up of Böhringer/Klaus Kaiser, Dieter Glemser/Martin Braungart and Ewy Rosqvist/Eva-Maria Falk in the Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix. With Ford, Dieter Glemser celebrated a European Championship title for touring cars in 1971, a win in the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps and the German Motor Racing Championship in 1973 and 1974. He ended his active motor racing career in November 1974, following a serious crash caused by tyre damage in the touring car race in Macao, south-east China. From 1990, Dieter Glemser was a member of the Mercedes-Benz motorsport team for ten years, responsible for organisational matters as a department manager. From 2001 to 2008 he worked as a freelancer for Mercedes-AMG and Daimler AG in the area of sports and driver safety training, as well as at Mercedes-Benz Classic events where he is still active.
Ellen LohrBorn on 12 April 1965 in Mönchengladbach, Germany
Ellen Lohr came to motor sport from the kart racing scene, where she was active from 1979 to 1983. Her greatest successes were participation in the Junior Kart World Championship and a first place in the North-West German Kart Championship. After competing in the German Formula Ford 1600 series (German Champion in 1987), and first races in the DTM (BMW) and the German Formula 3 Championship with VW in 1989/90, she was signed by the AMG-Mercedes team for the German Touring Car Championship. For the 1995 season, she moved to the Mercedes-Zakspeed team, and in 1996 drove for the AMG-Mercedes Persson MS team. Ellen Lohr is the first and only woman to date to have achieved a DTM victory, which she won in May 1992 at the motor racing festival in Hockenheim driving an AMG-Mercedes 190 2.5-16 Evolution II. In 1997, she competed in the European Truck Racing Championship at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz racing truck. Subsequently Ellen Lohr has continued to be actively involved in numerous other racing series, including the Paris–Dakar Rally since 2005 and again in truck racing since 2012