BOOK REVIEWS, March 1990, March 1990

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Mercedes-Benz W196

Last of the Silver Arrows by Michael Riedner. 325 pp. 10N” x 9″. Haynes Publishing Group, Spark ford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ. £29.95.

Not another Mercedes book! That was the first impression of Riedner’s English version of this title that was first published in Germany in 1986. There have been so many, starting with David ScottMoncrieff’s Three-Pointed Star (Cassell, 1955, with two more editions, the last revised by Peter Hull in 1966). If I wanted information on the W196 I was content to consult Karl Ludvigsen’s very complete technical history of the Benz and Mercedes racing cars, which includes this model. However, on reading Riedner’s work it becomes apparent that he has produced a splendid tribute to the last Mercedes-Benz GP cars, consulting Daimler-Benz archives just as Ludvigsen did. The result is a very complete record of these cars, and the 300SLR sports/racing Mercedes-Benz and the great number of fine and well reproduced photographs capture extremely well the spirit and the atmo Last of the SINGE Arrows

sphere of those times. The background lead-in uses illustrations from the Daimler-Benz archives, which have been seen so many, many times previously and to some extent that applies to the later pictures, but their enlargement does them full justice. The author tells us that his interest was aroused by owning a Viking model of a W196 in 1960/61; by 1984 he became sports editor of Motor Klassik and in 1985 von Pien gave him the chance of driving a W196 for a lap and a half on the Nurburgring’s North Loop. From that stemmed this book, the first devoted entirely to the W196. It covers the car’s background, the personnel behind the car, the drivers, the W196’s design and construction, all its races, brief reference to rival racing cars, the test programme and the final withdrawal of Mercedes from the GP scene. The 300SL racing car transporter gets a

chapter to itself. As I have said, the book is packed with evocative pictures; modelmakers will like the pull-out factory drawings, although unfortunately these are of the 300 SLR, as those for W196 were not available, and various of its engineering features. The Appendices deal with technical data, with more workshop drawings, tabulated race appearances, where the cars are now and lists of those who were behind the W196, from Chairman of the M-B board, Dr Fritz Konecke, to a list of 85 named mechanics. Thorough! I enjoyed this book, even though I deplore the name “Silver Arrows” and Herr Neubauer being referred to as “The Fat Man”, and too many minor errors take the gilt off what would have been the standard work on this particular racing Mercedes-Benz. WB