"The Men Behind the Cars"

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Sir,
If space may allow a little Mercedes-Benz nostalgia, I am reminded by your article “The Men Behind the Cars” of a meeting with Kellaway and, I think, a Mr. Jackson on the M-B stand at the 1929 Olympia Motor Show. I had had the good fortune, as a guest of the Alvis equipe at Newtownards, to see Caracciola’s legendary drive to win the Ulster TT at 72 m.p.h. in the rain that summer, with a 36/220 SS; the Mercedes stand was therefore an essential port of call. I was duly promised a run in a 36/220 by Kellaway and given a lift back to the West End in one, with Caracciola, who happened to be present, as driver. Next summer, as an impecunious medical student, I had the effrontery to claim this little run out at Mercedes-Benz, Davies Street, W1, after a ride down from Edinburgh on a 1926 TT Replica Norton. Kellaway was as good as his word. Off we went to the far end of the Barnet by-pass and I drove the car back to town. It was an experience I have never forgotten. With that 70 m.p.h. in 2nd, 98 in 3rd, about 70 at 2,000 r.p.m. in top and that supercharger screech!

I have always thought that for glamour and good looks, the 36/220 SS Mercedes-Benz of the type owned by Lord Howe (ex-Caracciola), Malcolm Campbell and the Duke of Grafton (later killed in a Bugatti at the Limerick GP) were without equal, though it may be traitorous as an ex-BDC member to say so! If perhaps Kellaway was admonished for this delightful but profitless foray, I think it only fair to add that our current family transport for the last 250,000 miles has been cars made at Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. The only other Vintage Mercedes I have driven was a rather sluggish old Model “K” or early “S” in 1940, belonging to the Sultan of Johore’s heir, the Tunku Makota of Johore (a great supporter of Malayan Motor Sport). The car is seen in the photo at the Sultan’s Palace with a “Speed 20” Alvis I took out from home.

R.D. Bell,
Lieut.-Col. RAMC (Retd.).
Richmond.

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