Mercs’ first return to Britain
The great interest aroused by seeing or reading about demonstrations of historic GP cars was amply confirmed by Motor Sport‘s world exclusive in the December 2003 issue of the drive at Donington by the editor in the 1939 D-type Auto-Union. I was reminded of how, back in 1958, the VSCC managed to have demonstrations at Oulton Park during its Richard Seaman Race Meeting of a W125 and a W163 Mercedes-Benz, driven by Tony Brooks and Peter Collins. The more mercenary-minded were hinting that each got a £250 fee.
On the Friday the W125 arrived on the 100mph 300SL Mercedes-Benz transporter. Continental had made new tyres and Esso had mixed 100 gallons of the methanol, acetone, nitro-benzine and ether required for the 483bhp W163, and the benzine, gasoline, ethanol and methanol consumed by the 646bhp W125. Karl Kling supervised it all.
The W125 was reluctant to start, but after a broken key in the fuel pump had been replaced, all was well. In relentless rain both drivers had gone entertainingly quickly while getting used to the cars. Brooks, who arrived in a Morris Minor, queried a vibration; it was explained to him that this was induced by wheelspin in all three of the higher gears! He used 5,000rpm in third, on a tachometer red-lined at six thousand. Engineer Werner warmed the W125 up at 1800rpm, after a small fire was put out. Collins arrived on Saturday in a Ford Zephyr and took the W125 out using second and third gears on the damp track. “What a car; it makes the V16 BRM feel like an Austin 7!” he said. Brooks then did a lap at 84.23mph in the W163.
On race day these now historic Mercedes-Benz were the event of the afternoon. Kling went out first in the W163; a tooth in the fuel pump broke, but it did not stop the action. Brooks in the W125 and Collins in the W163 later put on a dummy race. The VSCC time-keepers recorded Collins as lapping fastest in the W125 in 2m0.50s (79.52mph), Brooks 0.08sec slower, and Brooks quickest in the W163 in 2m0.40s (80.16mph). Donington could not be compared with Oulton Park, but in the 1937 GP there von Brauchitsch’s W125 tied for fastest lap with Rosemeyer’s 6-litre Auto-Union in 2m11.4s (85.62mph) and in the 1938 GP Nuvolari won in a 3-litre Auto-Union and made the fastest lap, at 83.71mph.
Taxing question of parking
New Labour’s war on vehicle users has been stepped-up by the ridiculous 50cm kerb parking rule, with abnormal fines, the surcharge on speeding fines, the increase in speed-cameras, and the charges for entering London by car. Those who vote may be diminishing but PM Blair may get a shock at the next General Election.
He may well find that vehicle users will vote in enormous numbers in order to defeat the ever-increasing stealth taxes including those imposed not only on those who find pleasure or necessity in car ownership but also on those who have to use vehicles for their business, from small vans to enormous commercials. We are all heavily taxed, on ‘road-fund’ duty and fuels, and under other schemes. So be careful how you vote.
Parking problems would never have arisen had it been made unlawful to leave, on any public road, horseless carriages as soon as they had begun to appear, in the same way that horses and carriages were not left outside unattended but were taken into stables and carriage houses. This might have seemed hard on motorists as cars came into more general use. In fact, drivers would have been able to enjoy un-congested roads and the building trade would have benefitted from putting up garages at houses previously without one.
By 1921 Peugeot made the 667cc 3ft 8in-wide Quadrilette so that even those in Paris or elsewhere with only a narrow alleyway in apartment blocks could keep a car off the highway. Too late now for off-road parking. But what a lost opportunity!