"The cars of Betty Haig"
Sir, I was very interested in the comment regarding the tendency of Betty Haig's S.S.100…
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THF,RE must be comparatively few people who really enjoy driving a fast car, and who, having once tried it, do not find something of the same thrill in ski-ing. The sensations are so very similar ; there is in both cases the sensation of terrific speed and the grand excitement of taking a difficult corner. What is more, those of us who might be more skilful on the snow, recapture that glorious uncertainty possessed by the older sports cars as to whether or not it is possible to stop. A friend of mine, as a matter of fact, foUnd this particular thrill so lacking in the fast cars of to-day that in despair he mounted himself recently on a horse. He got, incidentally, all or more than he asked for, as the animal’s throttle stuck open on the main road into Manchester, and it wa-s not until he had overtaken a Morris Cowley with ease almost at the beginning of the tramlines that he managed to get his mount into a broadside dry skid and thus stop in the ditch. He told me that he had not had so good a thrill since he last drove a back wheel braked “30-98,” but I am still to be converted.
A Winter Holiday.
However to return to the subject of ski-ing. I had always thought that its one crab was that the practice of it was incompatible with motoring. Memories of going to Switzerland in the winter are linked in my mind with stopped and benighted railway trains in deserted stations where a gloomy man shouts .” Troyes” or ” Mulhouse ” with a wail of despair. Another friend of mine, however, was determined to go a ski-ing this winter and equally determined to go in a motor. For the purpose he selected one of these new Fords, which he assures me is a real sports car in every proper stnse of the word. With it he crossed to Antwerp and thence made for Munich, got into the valley of the Iun and followed it past Innsbruck, arriving at St. Moritz at eleven o’clock one night. He came back by Stuttgart, and strange to relate turned aside there to a neighbouring town called Untertiirkheim. In spite of the fact that he was by no means driving a Mercedes, he tells me that he got a wonderful welcome there ; they took him round the museum where is everything from the earliest Cannstadt Daimler to one of the 4i-litre Mercedes of the type which won that notable 1, 2, 3 victory in the 1914
Grand Prix ; showed him everything of interest in the factory, and finally sent him away with a load of literature, which in the kindness of his heart he has passed on to me as something to make up for the fact that I did not go with him.
Along with a wonderful collection of catalogues and descriptions of all the modern Mercedes-Benz, there is a remarkable quarto book which contains a most enthralling history of the two famous concerns which are now combined.
Most people probably know the story of the early struggles, hopes, fears and final success of Gottlieb Daimler and his colleague Wilhelm Maybach, and of Carl Benz. I was particularly interested, however, in the part descriptive of the development of the first car which bore the name “Mercedes.” It seems that its outstanding features owe much more than I ever realised before to a little car designed and built in 1899 by Paul Daimler, the son of Gottlieb, and afterwards the first director of the Austrian Daimler factory at Wiener Neustadt, which did not become a separate undertaking from the German Daimler company until 1906 when Paul Daimler returned to Stuttgart.
At any rate his little car, which was known as the ” P.D.” and was rated at 4 h.p., was remarkable in that it foreshadowed many of the changes in design which afterwards made the Mercedes famous. Instead of the old cylindrical or square honeycomb radiator slung in front below the bonnet, Paul Daimler used a radiator with sloped shoulders and small raised square header tank, the whole mounted in front of the bonnet, which blended into it and was hinged at the back. The cylinders and cylinder heads were cast together, and a spiral spring or ” scroll ” clutch afterwards to become so famous, drove to a gearbox built up in unit with the engine. The latter was governed by a throttle, worked by a foot pedal, and for the first time in Daimler history electric ignition.was used.
The First Mercedes.
At this time the Austro-Hungarian Consul-General in Nice was Herr Emil Jellinek, and in 1897 he had ordered from the Cannstadt factory a car “designed for speed.” He was supplied with a 6 h.p. 2-cylinder, but although it would do a good 25 m.p.h., he was not satisfied with it, or with the 12 h.p. and 24 h p. models which followed it. Jellinek, however, recognized that in material and workmanship the products of the Daimler
works at Cannstadt were unbeatable and he was certain that if only he could induce them to turn out a high-powered car, capable of beating the famous French marques in the great races, the machine would have an enormous commercial success. I have an idea that Herr Gottlieb Daimler himself was the stumbling block to Jellinek’s plans, but on 6th March 1900, the great founder of the firm died, and less than a month later, on 2nd April an agreement was arrived at by which Jellinek should have the sole selling agency for the products of the Cannstadt factory. Moreover in order to use a good international word, it was decided that henceforth the cars should be sold under the name of Jellinek’s daughter, Mercedes. With the help of the ideas incorporated in Paul Daimler’s P.D. car, Wilhelm Maybach got down to the design of the new high-powered car, which was rated at 35 h.p., and in September, 1900, the first ” Mercedes” actually appeared.
The Mercedes “Family Tree.”
Although this machine was to be used as a racing car, it was in a sense the first sports car, as it was built for speed and intended to be sold. It was in any case the first of a long line which from that day to this has provided in the opinion of some of us, the finest sports cars in the world. In this connection, however, a rather curious point arises. It is usual to consider almost every big pre-war car of the marque as a “90 h.p. Mercedes,” but in actual fact I think very few models bore this title. The 35 h.p. was succeeded in 1902 by the 40 h.p., which perhaps won the Paris-Vienna race, and the first 90 h.p. (170 x 140 mm. bore and stroke), appeared in the Paris-Madrid race of 1903. But this was really a racing car, and the sports model of the year was the 60 h.p., the type which won the Gordon Bennett race in Ireland, and an example of which Is usually to be seen in the Brighton Run nowadays. The next year, 1904, there was another 90 h.p., with the bore reduced to 165 mm., which ran in the Gordon Bennett race in Germany, but thereafter the racing cars all had higher ratings, except the Kaiserpreis car of 1907, which was called 85 h.p. In 1905 the 60 h.p. sports car was succeeded by the 70 h.p., with a roller bearing engine and cylinders cast in pairs, while at the very end of 1906 there came the 70 h.p. 6-cylinder. By 1908 the big ” four ” had become a “60/65 h.p.” and
in 1909 the ” six ” was a “75 h.p.” The first real 90 h.p. sports car must have been introduced about 1910 or 1911, and in 1912 it was already known as the 37-80 h.p., remained the same in 1913, and in 1914, still with chain drive, became 38-100 h.p. I suppose it was during these three or four years before the War that the real “90 h.p. Mercedes “legend really grew up.
In the meantime, in 1913, there had been introduced a 6-cylinder engine, known first as the 95 h.p., then in 1914 as the 28-95 h.p., with the cylinders cast in pairs, and owing, like the famous 4cylinder 1914 Grand Prix engine, much to the firm’s experience with aero engines. The chassis with this engine appeared again after the war, and lasted on until 1927, side by side with the supercharged 33-140 h.p. in 1925 and the 33-180 h.p. in 1927. It took the 36-220 h.p. of 1928, which was later to give place to the 38250 h.p., to oust the 28-95 h.p. of 1913.
The New Fiat. that about
Well, perhaps, that is enough about Mercedes for the moment, but I do think that a good many other manufacturers would be wise to give motorists a warm welcome to their factory, such as my friend got at Untertiirkheim, and show them round the place. I remember that a visit to the Fiat factory at Turin some years ago, where I watched the cars being tested on the banked track on the roof made me a fervent supporter of the Italian firm’s racing cars in the days when they appeared in the great races. That brings back to me the announcement that this year Tazio Nuvolari is to drive for Fiat, Monaco and the Targa being specially mentioned. I am told that he will only have a sports model, but perhaps the wish is father to the thought that it may be something better. I should have thought that for a sports model it would be more probable to mention the ” 1,000 Miles” and Le Mans. Surely the day when a sports model stood any chance in the Targa has gone, hasn’t it, and I should have thought that Nuvolari could not bear to drive anything but a very fast car if Varzi was about. At any rate we shall, I suppose, see what we shall see, but in the meantime it is amusing to turn over the possibility that Alfa-Romeo having decided to retire from active racing next year, Ii Duce has ordered Mat to come forward and take their place. Just supposing therefore that the Turin firm were building a set of real special racing cars for 1933, what I wonder would they be like ?
Fiat now has not taken part in an active racing season since 1924 when the cars used were supercharged straight-eight 2-litres, differing very little from the first blown racers which made such a dramatic appearance in 1923. Naturally, however, the combination of a capacity limit for racing and the perfection of supercharging made the Fiat engineers consider the possibilities of an engine working on the 2-stroke principle, the great problem in connection with which has always been induction. They seem to have thought about it throughout 1925, but in 1926 I believe they actually built a 6-cylinder 2-stroke engine and fitted it into a racing car. According to the MOTOR SPORT review of racing for 1926 this car actually got as far as being tried out at Monza by the late Pietro Bordino, but the engine was apparently not a success, and in any case, its chief inspiring influence, the capacity limit, has now gone. The author of the article mentioned above, which was published in December, 1926, seems already to have known that engines of an entirely new type were being prepared for 1927, and late in the season a car fitted with one actually appeared.
A Revival of the 12-cyl. 2-stroke?
The engine in question consisted of nothing less than two blocks of six cylinders side by side with their crankshafts geared together. The earlier history of engines of this type is of some interest. Apparently Fiat themselves built an engine with two blocks of four cylinders and the crankshafts geared together and fitted it into an airship before the War, while later they took out patents for engines with two or three blocks of four or six cylinders each built on this principle. In the meantime, Ettore Bugatti, who as usual comes into the story, had taken out
patents in 1915 for this type of engine, though which patents were earlier, his or the Fiat Company’s, I have no idea. As we saw last month in connection with straight-8 engines, designs made by Bugatti were used during the War both by Bara in France and Duesenburg in America, and I believe that these two firms both built a few Bugatti engines with two straight-eight blocks having their crankshafts geared together. The fact remains that Bugatti himself certainly showed this engine at several aviation shows after the War, while tradition has it that the Duesenburg racer which in 1920 took records at Daytona at 155.3 m.p.h., burst into flames and was driven into the sea, had an engine of this type.
At any rate there is no doubt, as in the case of the 2-stroke, that the Fiat racing car fitted with a dual engine with 12 cylinders, total capacity 1,500 c.c., and two overhead camshafts per block, not to mention a blower, appeared late on in 1927. It was driven in the Grand Prix of Milan at Monza in September by Bordino, the engine apparently attained 9,000 r.p.m. and the car won the race on a wet track at 96 m.p.h., beating the 2-litre Alfa-Romeos and Bugattis. Now it seems just possible that if Fiat were building a special racing car to-day, they might choose an engine of this type. It has the advantage that a large number of cylinders can be stowed in a small space (an interesting consideration for a touring car) ; for a given total engine size therefore the reciprocating parts can be light, and the engine speed high ; a comparatively small engine can therefore be used to give the desired power, and weight can thereby be saved. Probably nothing is further than all this from the minds of those in Turin . . . but you never know.
“Inanimate Motor Bicycles.”
TA return from the realm of fancy to that of fact, I expect that during the cold weather of this winter some of those readers of MOTOR SPORT who achieve their locomotion on two wheels were tempted to wonder whether this form of entertainment was particularly good for their health. At any rate the following excerpt from a dissertation on the subject published in 1896 may not come amiss.
“Opinions are divided as to the utility and the future of inanimate motor bicycles. As a matter of fact the natural and most appropriate motor of the bicycle is the cyclist, whose activity in propelling the machine produces those hygienic results which are now admitted on all hands. On a self-propelling machine, the body, being motionless, is subject to severe chills, hence the rider must beware of pains in the knees and shoulders, neuralgia and the like.
“Something may be said for compound cycling, in which the rider may either sit motionless, allowing himself to be carried along at a terrific pace by the auto-motor, of may quietly pedal along, viewing the scenery as he goes ; or again he may, oh encountering a stiff hill, join forces with the motor and climb the steep at his ease —provided of course that the bicycle is. fitted with pedals.”
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