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 by the author.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Mercedes-Benz at the Silvretta Classic Rally July 7-10, 2016
Mercedes-Benz 280 SL of the W 113 series (1963-1971).
From the diesel as the class winner in the 1955 Mille Miglia to the exclusive high-performance E 500 Limited Saloon: at the Silvretta Classic Rally Montafon 2016, Mercedes-Benz demonstrates the variety of the sporty brand tradition with classic cars from various eras. One thing characterises all five vehicles: an affinity with their standard-production counterparts. The three rally stages from 7 to 10 July 2016 cover around 600 kilometres, taking in picturesque alpine roads through Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Stuttgart. Throughout the brand's history, Mercedes-Benz has consistently developed standard-production vehicles into winning racing sports cars or exclusive high-performance cars. At the Silvretta Classic Rally Montafon 2016, the Stuttgart-based brand demonstrates with five cars from the company's collection just how close standard production and successful sportiness are in the brand tradition. Mercedes-Benz Brand Ambassadors Klaus Ludwig and Karl Wendlinger will also be lining up at the start.
The 180 D (W 120) "Ponton" achieved a triple victory in the diesel class at the 1955 Mille Miglia. Compared with the road version, the saloons were hardly modified for the legendary road race from Brescia to Rome and back.
The racing version of the 1955 190 SL Roadster (W 121) also symbolises the close link between tried-and-tested standard-production technology and racing success. With the competition version of the 190 SL, Douglas Steane achieved a class victory at the 1956 Macau Grand Prix.
At the turn of the 1970s, the 280 SL "Pagoda" marked the most sophisticated development stage of the W 113 series. It was the first SL generation that took forward the common heritage of the 300 SL and the 190 SL, both direct motor racing offshoots. Eugen Böhringer, for instance, took the chequered flag at the 1963 Liège–Sofia–Liège Rally in a 230 SL from this model series.
The AMG 300 SEL 6.8 (W 109) dates from the same time as the 280 SL. Designed as an uncompromising high-performance touring sports car, it was affectionately nicknamed the "Red Sow". The racing touring car derived from the former Mercedes-Benz luxury class 300 SEL 6.3 Saloon took second place and a class victory at the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps in 1971.
Finally, the Mercedes-Benz E 500 Limited (W 124) highlights the perfect combination of sportiness and exclusive equipment and appointments. Only 500 units of this special model of the high-performance saloon with V8 engine were built in 1994.
Classic car meet
Classic car aficionados have been enjoying the Silvretta Classic Rally Montafon with its route along grandiose alpine roads since 1998. This year 160 teams are lining up on the grid. The field of participants stands out with its wide range of classic vehicles. Mercedes-Benz is a Premium Partner in the regularity race and is also sponsoring the Silvretta E-Auto Rally for alternative drives.
Following accreditation and technical inspection (from 5 July 2016) the Silvretta Classic 2016 will set out on the first stage on 7 July. From Partenen over the Silvretta High Alpine Road, the Bielerhöhe Pass and Gargellen, the route takes the participants some 115 kilometres to Schruns. A 296-kilometre stage from Partenen via St. Anton in the Montafon valley, through the Principality of Liechtenstein into Switzerland and back to Gaschurn follows on July 8. Sights to be savoured along the route include the Schwägalp Pass at 1278 metres and the 1487-metre-high Faschinajoch Pass. The third and final stage gets underway on July 9 in Partenen and takes in the Bielerhöhe Pass, the 1793-metre-high Arlberg Pass and the 1773-metre-high Flexen Pass to the finish in Vadans. On 10 July, the rally ends with a farewell event in St. Gallenkirch.
Mercedes-Benz drivers at the Silvretta Classic Rally Montafon 2016
Klaus Ludwig Born on 5 October 1949 in Bonn, Germany
Honoured with the title of "King Ludwig" by his fans, the outstanding racing driver and three-times DTM Champion Klaus Ludwig began his motor racing career in the early 1970s with slalom races, orientation rallies and touring car races. His first major successes included the German Motor Racing Championship (DRM) title in 1979 and 1981, and victories in the 24-hour race at Le Mans in 1979, 1984 and 1985. Ludwig came to the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) in 1985, where he initially competed for Ford and won his first title in 1988. In 1989 he moved to the AMG-Mercedes team, with which he won two championship titles (1992 and 1994, runner-up in 1991) and a total of 19 race victories in the years up to 1994. In 1995 and 1996 he competed in the ITC (International Touring Car Championship) for Opel Team Rosberg. He subsequently returned to AMG-Mercedes, winning the driver and team trophy in the International FIA GT Championship together with Ricardo Zonta in 1998. He subsequently officially retired from motor sport, but competed once again in the new German Touring Car Masters (DTM) in 2000, ending the season and his motor racing career with a third-place finish in the overall rating in a Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM.
Karl WendlingerBorn on 20 December 1968 in Kufstein, Austria
Karl Wendlinger's motor sport career began in go-karting at the age of 14. In 1989, he won the German Formula 3 Championship. In 1990 and 1991, the Austrian was a member of the Mercedes Junior Team, along with Michael Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, and competed in the sports car world championship. In 1991 he moved on to Formula 1. From 1994 Wendlinger drove for the Sauber-Mercedes team together with Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Racing assignments in the DTM, Formula 3000 and the Le Mans 24-hour race followed. His most outstanding successes on the racetrack include winning the FIA GT Championship (1999), 1st place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTS Class (in the same year), overall victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2000 and a second-place finish in the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring (2003). From 2004 to 2011, Karl Wendlinger competed for various teams in the FIA GT Championship; with Jetalliance Racing he was the runner-up in 2007.
Mercedes-Benz Classic vehicles at the Silvretta Classic Rally Montafon 2016
Mercedes-Benz 180 D (W 120, 1954-1959)
The first diesel-engined 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. A total of 114,046 units of the 180 D saloon were produced up to the facelift in autumn 1959. Mercedes-Benz entered several 180 D vehicles with start numbers 04, 09 and 010A in the 1955 Mille Miglia. These diesel-engined saloons, which were capable of speeds of up to 110 km/h, cannot be compared with the racers and sports cars that raced to overall victory in 1955. However, 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 achieved a triple victory in the diesel class.
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
Mercedes-Benz 190 SL racing version (W 121 II, 1955)
The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL standard-production sports car embodies the attitude towards life in the "Swinging Fifties", a colourful joie de vivre and lightness. The SL became the dream car of the 1950s primarily against the economic backdrop of the fledgling recovery and the advent of individual mobility. The open-top two-seater was built starting in 1955 and set new standards for comfortable touring with a sporty note by delivering a refreshingly new take on the "Gran Turismo" idea. Even though the 190 SL, unlike the 300 SL (W 198), was not based on motor racing technology, it also made its mark in motor sport. This was especially true for the racing version available until 1956 with windowless aluminium doors, a smaller windscreen and other modifications. The bumpers and soft top on this variant could be removed for races. The major successes of the vehicle included the class victory achieved by Douglas Steane at the 1956 Macau Grand Prix.
Technical data for the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121) - road versionProduction period: 1955 to 1963 Cylinders: 4/in-line Displacement: 1897 cc Output: 77 kW (105 hp) Top speed: 180 km/h
Mercedes-Benz 280 SL (W 113, 1968-1971)
The "Pagoda SL" series W 113, thus called by enthusiasts because of its pagoda-shaped hardtop, managed the difficult balancing act between high-performance sports car and comfortable tourer. It combined the qualities of its two predecessor models: the uncompromising 300 SL (W 198) standard-production sports car and the 190 SL (W 121), which was aimed more at sporty, comfortable touring. These attributes won the "Pagoda SL" the hearts of a very ambitious clientele, who wanted the extraordinary performance and superior power delivery of a thoroughbred sports car as well as the spaciousness and ride comfort of a luxury tourer. The most highly developed variant, the 280 SL launched in 1963, had a displacement of 2.8 litres and boasted an output that was 15 kW (20 hp) higher than that of the preceding 230 SL and 250 SL models. Thanks to greater flexibility, this above all made the six-cylinder in-line model more refined. Hence the 280 SL model in the "Pagoda" line-up was almost as popular with buyers as the 230 SL and 250 SL combined, the latter of which was only built for about a year.
Technical data for the Mercedes-Benz 280 SL (W 113)Production period: 1968 to 1971 Cylinders: 6/in-line Displacement: 2778 cc Output: 125 kW (170 hp) Top speed: 200 km/h
AMG 300 SEL 6.8 (W 109, 1971)
It was at the wheel of the AMG 300 SEL 6.8 touring race car that Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz won a surprising class victory and second place in the overall classification at the 24-hour race at Spa, Belgium, on 24 July 1971. The winning car was developed by the then virtually unknown AMG, founded in 1967 by Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher in Großaspach. The modified vehicle was based on the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 which, with an output of 184 kW (250 hp), was absolutely unrivalled in its day. But Aufrecht and Melcher made the fastest German standard-production car of the period even more powerful: engine capacity grew from 6330 cc to 6835 cc, and the output of the improved V8 engine increased to 315 kW (428 hp). The win in the race at Spa marked the breakthrough for AMG and was to be followed by further victories. To this day the car is still known by its nickname, the "Red Sow". The original car from 1971 no longer exists, but in 2006 the AMG 300 SEL 6.8 was re-developed in a detailed reconstruction. It has been an immensely potent ambassador of Mercedes-AMG history on each of its appearances ever since.
Technical data for the AMG 300 SEL 6.8 (W 109)Cylinders: V8 Displacement: 6835 cc Output: 315 kW (428 hp) Top speed: 265 km/h
Mercedes-Benz E 500 Limited (W 124, 1994)
With its presentation in 1984, the 124 series in the Mercedes-Benz executive segment set the standard for safety and efficiency. In 1990, the top-of-the-line 500 E made its debut. The high-performance saloon came with a powerful eight-cylinder engine. When the W 124 was renamed the E-Class in June 1993 - similar to the S-Class and C-Class –, the model designation was changed to E 500. The E 500 Limited was brought out in 1994 as a special model with a particularly exclusive equipment line, with just 500 units being produced.
Technical data for the Mercedes-Benz E 500 Limited (W 124)Production period: 1994 Cylinders: V8 Displacement: 4973 cc Output: 235 kW (320 hp) Top speed: 250 km/h