GERMANY’S CARS ON PARADE
HERR HITLER OPENS THE BERLIN MOTOR SHOW: TECHNICAL NOVELTIES IN DESIGN
ONE expects great things of a motor show in a country where motoring receives the enthusiastic support of the Government. and when one goes to Berlin one is not disappointed. Nine vast halls housed the 1938 exhibition, one more than last year, for in the meantime the new Masurenhalle had been
built. Cars, motor-cycles, transport vehicles, huge streamlined coaches, caravans, accessories, and every phase of motoring were on view.
The Berlin Show, for all its size, is not so international as those of other countries, especially the British Motor Show, at which one may see vehicles of all car-producing nations. The national spirit is so strong in Germany that other interests have to take second place. Fourteen German car manufacturers had taken space in the main hall, but only one British firm, Austin, had its products on view. There was also a Bentley on one of the special coachwork stands. Italy had three representatives, and Austria, the U.S.A., and France one each. The long-awaited Volkswagen, or people’s car, did not appear, although it is believed that Dr. Porsche’s final design has now been approved, and the experimental models have been seen running about quite openly for some time. A relief model of the enormous factory which is shortly to be built at Fallersleben, near Brunswick, for the production of the Volkswagen., was on view in the
..Vasurenhalle. Besides a tremendous spread of works buildings and offices, it will have houses for the workers Included in the estate, together with a sports stadium and athletic ground.
It is thought that the Volkswaeen will have an engine of about 2-litres, at the rear, and that it will have independent suspension of all four wheels, and a full five-seater saloon body, all at a cost less than 100.
Herr Hitler, who, amid scenes of marching troops and impressive pageantry, opened the exhibition in person, said that plans were already far advanced, but development of the necessary synthetic materials had retarded actual production on an economic basis. It was also necessary that the purchasing power of the country as a whole should be increased before the great project was launched. This, as part of the National Socialist Government’s policy, had now made great strides, and, Herr Hitler said, the rise of the motor industry had contributed largely to the general improvement in the standard of living.
In 1932, before the first Four Years’ Plan, there was one motor vehicle for every forty persons in Germany, whereas at the present time there is approximately one for every twenty-four. It is a fact that demand greatly exceeds supply at the moment, for with most factories delivery dates are three or four months from the time of ordering, and in the case of lorries sometimes more than a year. This year there was no procession of racing cars through the streets of Berlin at the opening of the exhibition, in deference to the accident to Berndt Rosemeyer. Herr Hitler, having referred in his speech to the national loss sustained in the death of this great diiver, made the interesting announcement that a decoration was to be given in future for outstanding success in motor sport, a remarkable evidence of the standing achieved by
motor racing in Germany. Although it cannot be denied that little interest is as a rule taken by the British Government in motor racing, even as part of the National Fitness Campaign, one must not forget that both the late Sir Henry Segrave and Sir Malcolm Campbell received their knighthoods for success in this branch of sport.
Caracciola’s record-breaking 271 m.p.h. Mercedes-Benz had a special stand in the Hall of Honour, and. was constantly surrounded by throngs admiring its beautiful streamlined form. The streamlined Auto-Union, which, it must not be forgotten, still holds the world’s record for the standing mile at 138 m.p.h., also had a place of honour, together with Henne’s and Winkler’s record-breaking B.M.W. and D.K.W. motor-cycles. Little could be seen of the construction of the two record cars, but it was noticeable that, whereas the Mercedes had almost a flat undershield to its body from nose to tail, the Auto-Union’s nose was raised slightly at the front, the object being, no doubt, to take the pressure off the tyres. When one has seen the remarkable aerodynamic body of the record Mercedes, it is interesting to note that, in spite of the general tendency towards streamlining, due to the influence of the Autobahnen, there was not a single ” streamlined ” car on the Mercedes stand in the main hall. This was because the opinion of the Mercedes designers Is that half measures are of little avail
in Matters of streamlining, and that to obtain real advantage one must ” go the whole hog.”
On the other hand, a really fully streamlined body is something. of a handful in city streets, and in other ways is scarcely practical for ordinary work. Streamlining does not in any .case begin to exert a marked influence up to speeds of about SO m.p.h., while it is doubtful whether semi-streamlining is effective even at higher speeds. In support of this argument, one may note that the majority of the vehicles rejoicing in such names as Airglide, which appeared some years -ago ‘at an ‘Olympia Show, have now dropped out. Instead of streamlining, one found on the Mercedes stand the two big novelties of the Berlin Show. Both are of interest to the enthusiast, though neither is intended as a sports machine. First, there was the new Grosser Mercedes, an impressive machine with an engine of
7.7-litres. Formerly, this car, ‘which is rarely seen in England, was the only machine in the Mercedes range without independent suspension of all four wheels. Now it is the most -advanced of all the models, as a direct result of racing practice. The engine, while not increased in size, has a higher power output, of 155 h.p. without the supercharger, and 230 h.p. -with the supercharger in use. The front suspension is now independent, with coil springs, and the rear suspension is most interesting. Coil springs of very large diameter are again employed, but the -wheels are linked by a continuous solid
The differential, however, is mounted on a cross-tube of the frame, quite independently of the wheels, and the drive is taken through two swinging halfshafts. The rear wheels are located by triangulated tubes, which take both thrust and torque independently of the springs. This at last clears up the matter of the suspension of the Mercedes Grand Prix
racing-cars, for both front and rear suspension systems on the Grosser Mer., cedes are those which have been developed with such success on last year’s formula cars. Whether the new formula cars will employ the same system remains to be seen.
The frame is also developed from that of the Grand Prix model, employing oval tubes of deep section. Another feature of the big car, though not derived from the racing-cars, is an overdrive in the differential housing which can be brought into effect on any gear. As there are four forward gears, all with synchromesh engagement, this gives the effect of eight speeds.
The Grosser Mercedes—unfortunately, as many will say—is not intended for sports work, but as a luxury carriage for the supremely wealthy, or for the use of State potentates. Actually it is not any faster than the 5.4-litre supercharged car, having a top speed of about 103 m.p.h. The other novelty on the Mercedes stand was the Gelandewagen, or “estate car.” This would appeal greatly to British trials enthusiasts, as it has not only four-wheel-drive, but four-wheel-steering as well ! Furthermore, the car can be driven either with front steering and rear drive, in the normal fashion, or with front steering and the drive on all four wheels, or with all four wheels both driving and steering. The changes in the various mechanisms may be effected
easily from the driver’s seat by means of two extra levers. The car, which has a 2-litre four-cylinder engine, has a five-speed gearbox, in which bottom gear is in the neighbourhood. of 40 to 1. It has a maximum speed of about 53 m.p.h. The Gelandewagen, as its name implies, is designed for travelling about over very rough surfaces, as for agricultural or hunting purposes, or for
military use. All four wheels are independently sprung, and, as a matter of fact, bah front and rear axles are identical, except that one faces forward and the other backward. The steering linkages, the differentials, the means of taking the drive, and the suspension systems are the same in both cases. With the fourwheel-steering in use, the Gelandewagen can turn round in a circle of only 7 metres.
The other Mercedes-Benz models, from 1.7-litres upwards, are all continued with few alterations. Taking the productions of this great firm as typical of the German motor industry, one notes increased pains to give reliability at high speed, or rather at sustained high speed, which is quite a different matter. In this way special valve seats are now fitted in the alloy head for the exhaust valves of the 1.7-litre car, and on the big 5.4-litre supercharged car the exhaust valve stems are hollow and are filled with salt for cooling purposes. This principle is by no means new, but it is only lately that valves of this type have become a practical proposition. Salt-cooled valves are also used on the Horch, the splendid 5-litre car produced by the famous Auto-Union combine, whose members are Horch, Audi, Wander
er, and D.K.W. A 5-litre Horth with special roadster drophead cabriolet body was greatly admired, while one of the smaller V8-engined Horeh cars had a neat three-seater cabriolet body, with a single rear seat placed transversely. This type presents many advantages to the open car enthusiast, since the rear passenger is thus nearer to the screen, and receives 111.0.1*(: protection, he sits well within the wheelbase, and communication between front and rear passengers is facilitated. The body can moreover be short and compact, and there is plenty of room for luggage in the rear if no passenger is carried. Cabriolet bodies of solid build and pleasing lines were a feature of the exhibition, appearing on almost every stand. The term ” coupe,” incidentally, i8 not used in Germany at all, and ” cabriolet ” is used for all convertible bodies, whether
two-seaters or four-seaters. The threeseater type of body referred to above appeared this year on a number of stands. Open sports-cars were not shown in any numbers, owing to the popularity of the drophead body in Germany. B.M.W. showed the 100 m.p.h. two-seater, and Wanderer showed the 2-litre supercharged car, which is now establishing a reputation for itself. A neat sports body also appeared on the 1.7-litre Mercedes, and the Eifel Ford (or Ford Ten)
was shown with a nicely built sports two-seater body with rounded tail. A particularly fine example of drophead coachwork appeared On another Eifel Ford, with finely finished two-threeseater body. Streamlining was ninth in evidence on the Adler stand, where the new 2.5-litre car was shown with various styles of coachwork, and also in sectioned form. The most streamlined Model, with three-carburetter engine, develops 80 b.h.p., and is said to be capable of
00 m.p.h. The super-streamlined 1.7litre Adler, which has recorded 100 m.p.h.., was not on exhibition. An interesting German car is the Hansa, with all four wheels independently sprung, and a backbone type inswept tubular frame. The Stoewer also has a backbone type frame, . and employs a horizontally opposed air-cooled fourcylinder engine. The Steyr, too, has a horizontally opposed engine, with water
cooling. Such unconventional designs do not alarm the Continental motorist, who is alive to technical progress in a manner possessed only by the enthusiast in England.
This interest in technical matters was shown in striking manner in the Masurenhalk, a large part of which was given up to exhibits showing the progress of scientific research in various directions, as in the production of synthetic fuel,. Synthetic wood, upholstery, etc. Buhne artificial rubber is among the most advanced of the synthetic products upon which Germany is concentrating. Formerly six times the cost of natural rubber, it is now only 3.6 times as expensive, and, since better endurance qualities are claimed for it, it is rapidly becoming a factor to be reckoned with. Light metals. are also being studied, and a body was_ shown saving 100 kgs. over a similar construction in steel.