1934 RACING CARS
5 –T H E 2.9 LITRE MERCEDESBENZ.
SINCF, the early days of motoring the prestige of Germany in the racing world has been maintained by the Mercedes Company, and no one will forget thier successes in the French Grands Prix of 1908 and 1914. Their name, too, is associated with the early use of the supercharger, and the li and two litre cars produced after the War were conspicuously successful.
The next stage of progress saw the building of the 30-220 and the 38-250 ears, probably the most impressive vehicles which have appeared in races since the War, and in the hands of Caracciola capable of marvels in spite of their weight. ‘Ishe astonishing development of the 2.3 .Ufa Romeo and Bugatti cars, which were almost as fast and much easier to handle, proved too much for their bulkier rivals, and with the removal of Caratch to the Alfa camp, the huge white cars seemed to have disappeared from international races.
The engineers of 17ntertiirkheim were not idle, however, and when the i A at Kegulations for Grand Prix cars appeare?I in 1933, the Chairman of the DaimlerBenz Company, as it is called in Germany, was able to state that Mercedes was willing to produce Grand Prix cars within the 750 kg. limits.
It was expected that the first of the new racing cars would be tested on the Avus track last year, but further researches were called for, which prevented its debut until the middle of last January. The Avus road was not yet free from ice and snow, so the car was taken down to Italy in a large motor lorry, and a number of trial runs were made on the Milan-Varese Autostrada. After attaining some high speeds, Alfred Neubauer, the Mercedes racing manager, prononneed
himself satisfied, and the &pipe returned to Germany forthwith.
In the first announcement Of the Mercedes racing cars it was said that there would be two models, one a 2.9 litre and a larger one of 3.8 litres. So far only details of the smaller one have appeared. The engine is a 2.9 litre straight-eight Unit with two overhead camshafts. A Roots-type. MOW& permanently in engagement is fitted on the off-side, driven by gears, and these are also used to drive the camshafts. FAigine cooling is .always a serious problem on these high efficiency units, and a large port has been cut away
in the middle of the radiator block to direct a stream of air over the front end of the cylinder block. The numerous louvres in the bonnet and tmdershield facilitate its escape.
Beyond saying that it is a ,high-speed unit, the makers make no statement of the maximum engine speeds, but spectators who saw the car on its tests in Italy report that the tearing exhaust note LS even more stirring than the howl of the blower gears in the famous SSK’s.
The clutch occupies its normal position at the rear of the engine, but the gear-box is combined with the differential casing at the back of the car. This unit is supported on the chassis, since the rear wheels are independently sprung. Not having to contend with the angular movement of the propellor shaft, which can therefore be carried in a shallow tunnel, the designer has been able to seat the driver on a level with the chassis members without the complication of splitting the final drive. 1 he gear-lever is on the right of the driver.
The rear wheels are ittlepen?lently suspended with a single universal joint for each half shaft on the back axle casing, helical springs being used between chassis and axle, In the front each sNvivel in is carried oil two triangular links which allow the wheel to rise and fall in a vertical direction, and here U)9. the load i5 carried on helical springs. ‘Each wheel has its own steering arrn, as is usual with independent front springing, and with the elimination of the track-rod, the makers report unusually good road holding on bumpy corners. The rear shock-absorbers are adjustable from the driving seat.
The brake-drums are heavily finned, with holes through the fins to aid cooling, and wind-scoops on the alloy back-plate contribute to this result. The brakes are hydraulically operated.
The chassis is low-slung, straight in front and upswept at the back. A considerable saving of weight has been effected by the use of light alloys, but as far as can be determined, the actual side members are steel.
The body, which Is made of aluminium is a fine example of aero-dynamic design. The casing which covers the radiator and the front suspension is particularly smooth in outline, and gives the car something of the appearance of a Miller. There is actually only 4 inches clearance in the middle, reduced to about zero should a front tyre burst. The lower part of the body, covering the side-members is of greater width than the top part, and flows smoothly into the rear-axle fairing.
The fuel-tank is carried over the backaxle, which can be reached by removing the seat-cushion or detaching the back portion of the tail. It is notable that no attempt has been made to ” fair ” the driver’s head. The overall height of the car is not more than 3ft. 6ins. or waist level. The estimates of speed vary between 250-270 k.p.m. (155-175 m.p.h.). The cars may be seen at Monaco on Easter Monday, but the first real change of show
ing their speed will be in the French Grand Prix at Montlhery on July 1st.
The team will consist of six drivers, Fagioli, Caracciola, Henne, Von Branchitsch, Broschek and Bernet. It is thought that Fagioli will only drive until Caracciola has fully recovered from his accident. The latter of course has been a Mercedes “
ace” since 1923, when he gained a number of successes in German HillClimbs on a 1 litre car. Up to 1931 when he joined the Alfa Romeo team he had won the German Grand Prix on three occasions, the Irish Grand Prix and the T.T. once, and again won the German Grand Prix in 1932 on the Italian car. In 1933 he went into partnership with Chiron but was injured in the practises for the Monaco Grand Prix and was unable to drive during the rest of the season.
Henne is the holder of the World’s Speed Record on a B.M.W. motor-cycle. but 1934 will be his first season in a racing car. Von Brauchitsch, who is a film-star in private life, won the Avus Race and put up fastest time in the La Turbie Hill Climb in 1932. In 1933 he won the Kesselburg Hill Climb.
Broschek and Bernet are not widely known outside Germany. The former won his class at Nfirburg in 1928 on a Horch, was second in the Eifel Race in 1930 on a 2.3 Bugatti and came second in the Lwow Grand Prix on a Mercedes in 1932. Bernet specialises in longdistance high-speed trials, usually driving a Wanderer. He won the Baden-Baden 96 hour trial in 1929, and the Garmitch Winter Trial, 72 hours, 36 hours and 96 hours, in 1930-31-32, so that the Italian 1,000 Miles Race would be quite a trifle after such performances.
On paper, at any rate, Fagioli and Caracciola are the only drivers who can compare with the cracks of the Ferrari stable, but if their cars are as good as they look, they should once more make Germany a serious factor in international Grand Prix racing. All eyes turn to Montlhery.