SPORTING CARS ON TEST.
THE 36-220 h.p. SUPERCHARGED MERCEDES.
By THE EDITOR.
year, it will be remembered, we enjoyed an exciting trip in the very impressive 33-180 h.p. supercharged Mercede3, a car with a performance not easily forgotten.,
While the speed and general behaviour of this model left little to be desired, there is no doubt that its great weight, size and considerable height, somewhat detracted from its utility as a genuine ” sportwagen.”
The introduction of the new 36-220 h.p. model, with its remarkably low chassis, and short wheelbase, combined with an even more powerful engine, was an event which stirred the imagination of all road-burners, though it was not an altogether unexpected development. Some months having elapsed since our test of the earlier model, we arranged with Messrs. British Mercedes, of Long Acre, for a run in one of the cars which had been actually used in various continental races during 1927:
As the photograph shows, the new Mercedes presents a most imposing and racy appearance ; while retaining the well-known Mercedes characteristics—pointed radiator and outside exhaust pipes—it has an entirely new found neatness, never previously associated with this marque.
The chassis, as mentioned above, is short and low, and the body conforms to the Le Man’s specifications, in that it is a nominal four seater ; however, since the engine and bonnet utilise quite half of the available length, it will be realised that the accommodation of four adults is no easy task. The new model differs from its predecessors in having
a central gear lever of the ball type, and central hand brake, the particular specimen in question being also arranged with left hand steering, for use on the Continent. The driving seat itself is very comfortable, with ample leg room, and the bodywork is cut down to allow an easy and natural position for the outside elbow. This modification in the coachwork renders doors unnecessary for the front seats, but small doors are provided for the tonneau.
In the front seats one feels extremely lowrand a tall person could almost touch the ground with his .‘hand were it not for the running board. Having inspected the “Mere.” and found it good, we climbed aboard, the two passengers in the rear seats
uttering many groans and cries of dismay, they being both over six feet in height.
We then commenced the inevitable five mile crawl through London traffic. When testing the older Mercedes we were astonished at the docility of that road-devouring car, but this time we were quite ready to discover a certain intractibility in what is, to all intents and purposes, a road-racing motor. However, we were destined to be amazed again, for the great car oozed through the densest tangle with a gentle persistence delightful to experience. Gear changing was definitely unnecessary, unless a dead stop were unavoidable and it proved possible to trickle along on top gear without a sign of jerk or snatch.
Using the gear-box, whenever a gap appeared in the stream of vehicles, the ” Mere.” accelerated in a most satisfying manner, the upholstery simply hitting one in the back. During the run down to Brooklands no opportunity
SPORTING CARS ON TEST— continued.
presented itself for travelling very fast, but it was sufficiently clear that the new Mercedes embodied several improvements on the older production. Cornering was more certain and could be executed with greater joie de vivre, the advantages of the lower chassis being immediately noticeable.
The gearbox is another advance on the previous design. It became apparent that the new box enable us to effect far more certain and rapid changes than the older type the ratios are extremely close, thus reducing to a minimum the pause in changing up. This feature was particularly noticeable between third and top ; indeed, it proved possible to plant the lever from position to position either up or down without touching the accelerator or clutch! Except on third gear, the box is reasonably silent; the latter ratio appears to have received rough treatment, and emitted a pronounced whine.
On arriving at Brooklands, we found the track in dry condition, and we at once proceeded to discover the extent, if any, of the improvement to the surface, effected during the winter. We were not impressed, those in the rear seats being very definite in their remarks on this score.
On the Track.
On the Byfleet banking on our first lap, the engine was turning over at 2,600 r.p.m. with the supercharger sounding like a siren in front, which rate of revolutions is equivalent to a road speed of 104 m.p,h.
On the second lap we attained a speed of 110 m.p.h. on the Railway straight, the most outstanding feature at this speed being the extreme comfort of the front seats, and the extreme discomfort of the rear ones.
This speed, with a car in full touring, every-day trim, and after months of demonstration work, is no mean feat, and definitely places the 36-220 Mercedes in the first class among motor vehicles.
On the Road.
Content with our performance on the track, we decided to run down to Winchester for lunch. During this part of the road-test, many will probably accuse us of having been dangerous. This is, however, untrue. None of us desired an early and messy exit from this life, and the driving, therefore, was never reckless. One danger, however, made itself apparent and was swiftly recognised and guarded against. I refer to the ease with which the car glided through wayside villages at 50-6o m.p.h. after cruising on the open road
at between So and 90 m.p.h. Seventy became a normal speed, ninety not uncommon, and on two separate occasions three figures were exceeded! The two stretches whereon we passed Ioo m.p.h. were of no great length, but free from cross roads or
side-turnings. The first stretch was perhaps a mile long, half-a-mile of which was up an appreciable hill, but the hill made not the slightest difference to the Ioo m.p.h. ! The other stretch was longer and dead level, and I was able to keep my foot hard on the floor for a corre spondingly longer period. At no time and at no speed was there a tendency for the car to wander about the road. Although the steering wheel itself was juddering
in my hands, the car maintained a perfectly straight course, yet the steering, at all speeds, was almost incredibly light and required little more than finger pressure. With a car capable of these speeds—not that the normal owner would use the full range—brakes must be
correspondingly effective, and here the particular car we tested did not attain the high standard of its other performances. The design of brake fitted to this chassis is apparently good, but the power was not quite so effective as I
should have liked. When one is sweeping over roads at over So m.p.h. one likes to feel a tremendous stop-. page when one applies the brakes. I have only once experienced this—and that on a foreign car–and the Mercedes compares very well with other marques. It may have been that, as on the earlier model, I did not reckon with the enormous speeds and the weight of
SPORTING CARS ON TEST–concluded,
the car. However, I suggest that the braking system might be improved, by the addition of some form of servo mechanism.
Apart from this, and the discomfort of the rear seating accommodation—which is really a dickey included in the body-work—criticism must end. The “Mere.” is a veritable greyhound of the road. It can hold its own with and even beat anything, no
matter what its power. The only thing to come near its performance would be a car with a maximum speed of some 125 m.p.h. with acceleration to match, and I would like to see that motor. The exhaust note, which promises to be healthy when one regards the shining outside pipes sweeping from the bonnet, proved to be extremely quiet and unosten tatious. At high speeds the chief impression of sound is from the super-charger, which maintains a shrill
scream not unlike a siren, and is most awe-inspiring. The exhaust itself seems to be lost in the crescendo howl from the blower. On our return from Winchester, rain came on, and our speed was naturally decreased. A slight indication of the ” pep ” of the ” IVIerc.” was given when I rather incautiously opened out on a glistening wet stretch. The tail of the car wagged viciously from side to side of the road, the wheels spinning merrily. It was a
remarkable fact that even on the bumpy track at Brooklands there was not much bounce and spin when all out on the dry concrete.
One other point arises for discussion on this car, in connection with the application of the supercharger. Without expressing any criticism, I must say that as a matter of personal opinion, the use of the supercharger at full throttle only (by means of a vigorous further depression of the accelerator) is not ideal. Granted, that it would be unwise to tear about the country with the blower screaming all the tim?:, for tyres and transmission might suffer unduly, as well as life and limb of John Citizen, to say nothing of the Merc’s crew!
At the same time I feel that the use of the supercharger should be possible at all throttle openings by a more delicate control. With the present system it is, comparatively speaking, “full blast or nothing” at high engine speeds. A blower which could be connected by a separate lever would provide much more sensitive control at high speeds, as the somewhat disconcerting difference in power, caused by the sudden application or otherwise of the supercharger, would be avoided.
In conclusion, I suggest that I enthused sufficiently over the older Mercedes, and it should be enough to say that the new one is an even greater achievement in automobile engineering.