An attempt to solve a classic motor racing problem
“A maze of legend has grown up about the destiny of those five Mercedes cars, at least three of which are known to survive . . a whole chapter could easily be filled with them, which does nothing but bear out Mark Twain’s old aphorism about the fragments of the True Cross” — William Court, in “Power and Glory”.
THE 1914 French Grand Prix at Lyons on July 4th was one of the most interesting races of all time. For several reasons, in the first place, there was an element of high drama. Three white Mercedes cars streamed over the finishing line at the conclusion of the 20-lap, 467-mile contest in first, second and third places, having vanquished the French hero, Georges Boillot, driving a blue Peugeot, only a month before Germany went to war against the rest of Europe. Boillot then joined the French Air Service and was soon to be shot down fatally in an even grimmer conflict with this formidable adversary.
Then there was the splendid entry for this last race before the lights were doused all over Europe. Thirteen different manufacturers supported this race for cars of up to 4 1/2-litres, and there was the technical aspect, with the twin-cam, sixteen-valve Peugeots that had dominated the racing scene for the previous two years outmatched by the single-o.h.c., sixteen-valve Mercedes, which were quite the fastest cars on the course, even though they had only rear-wheel brakes, against the alleged superiority of the four-wheel-braking (said to be worth a minute a lap) used by Peugeot, Delage, Fiat and Piccard-Pictet.
Incidentally, the Mercedes Company seems to have had a happy knack of winning those races that would be long-remembered, as perhaps befits the engineering and racing expertise of the great German manufacturer — the only Gordon Bennett race to be run in Britain, in 1903, the last of the “first-series” of French Grands Prix, at Dieppe in 1908, and then this memorable conquest, at Lyons, just before war was to stop European racing for six years. In 1955 they did it again, winning the last-ever Mille Miglia.
That remarkable 1914 Grand Prix race, of 37 starters and only 11 finishers, produced many varying legends. It was said that, having early in 1914 trying their new cars on the roads of Lyons over which the race would be run, contradicted, if only to a small degree perhaps, by the alleged brief span (some five months) in which the chassis drawings of their unconquerable racers were prepared and the cars built without the 4 WB, 5th speeds or longer tails the design office would have liked them to have had, although five sets of axle-ratios were available. Some accounts say that the Mercedes team was strictly controlled during the race from the pits, Max Sailer being sent off to break-up the Peugeot opposition with military precision, others that the Mercedes drivers ran to no set orders. It has been said that so dismayed were the French when Boillot retired on the last lap and Goux’s Peugeot was only able to come home a poor fourth (third on the road) behind the Mercedes trio, that they stood silent as the three white cars, with less than five minutes between them, finished, the Marseillaise not ringing out until Goux was being flagged home; others have it that great admiration was shown for the not-young Christian Lautenschlager who had been driving for more than seven long hours over the difficult Lyons circuit, with its wicked difficult bends, including the “corner of death” and those downhill Esses, before winning this great contest for the honour of Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm II …
There was even discussion as to who had done the fastest lap and how many tyres the luckless Boillot had had to change. The fact remains that the methodical Mercedes Company had entered five cars and got them home in the first three places with two retirements, whereas one out of three of the challenging twin-cam Peugeots were forced to retire, the remaining makes to finish, behind Goux, being Sunbeam, Nagant, Peugeot (Rigal’s), Delage, Schneider, Opel and Fiat, in that order. All this is now very much in the past, but vividly recalled in those splendid books by Kent Karslake (“The French Grand Prix — 1906-1914, MRP, 1949) and T.A.S.O. Mathieson (“Grand Prix Racing — 1906-1914” published in 1965). At the time the three victorious Mercedes were highly-praised but the subsequent fate of this team of racing cars was of no particular moment. It wasn’t until after another World War had stopped pleasure motoring, that motor-racing history, always encouraged in the pages of MOTOR SPORT, began to crystalise, encouraged by writers such as Laurence Pomeroy, Anthony Heal, Douglas Tubbs and others, writing for the weekly motoring press.
So naturally, when P. C. T. Clark, an enthusiastic and active member of the VSCC, discovered and restored one of the 1914 GP Mercedes that he had found in this country and bought the very day WW2 started, speculation arose as to which one of the team cars it was, and what had become of the others. The problem is far from being solved, and it is this to which I have been turning my attention, without, I confess, getting much further. So let me throw it open to those erudite sleuths, the MOTOR SPORT readers. It is first necessary to line-up the Mercedes team:
Before we immerse ourselves in the mystery of what became of these cars after war had broken out, it is interesting to think about their drivers. Although Lautenschlager won in 1914 and had done so in 1908, when he averaged 69.0 m.p.h. for 477 miles of the Dieppe course on an 18.8-litre Mercedes, he was not cast in the hallmark of a professional racing driver. He was a cautious man, more a Mercedes test-driver than a racer like Boillot and Goux, yet, although unknown in 1908 he pulled off that long, arduous race and succeeded again six years afterwards. But William Court, in “Power and Glory — A History of Grand Prix Motor Racing, 1906-1951” (Macdonald, 1966) thinks that Lautenschlager was lucky to win in 1908 for many reasons and lucky again in 1914, when he had the best car but nevertheless Wagner would have beaten him had an officious official not delayed his start. Louis Wagner was a truly great driver; but otherwise Mercedes, in the two French Grands Prix they won, had engineer-testers rather than racing drivers, in Max Sailer, their Director of Racing, dashing though he may have been, Otto Salzer and Theo Pilette, their Belgium agent, who raced as an amateur.
Peter Clark, having a 1914 Mercedes of his own, naturally became interested in what had happened to the remainder of these by now historic team cars. He, and later Ronald H. Johnson, then the Mercedes-Benz Club’s historian, pondered the matter and came up with the following:
In trying to unravel this and decide who, if either, is correct, I am aware of Sherlock Holmes’ dictum that when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. The trouble here is that we are dealing with a great many complex “probables” and only a few “impossibles”.
However, let’s see! Mr. Johnson pointed out that the three Mercedes which finished the Grand Prix so successfully all returned to the Patent factory at Stuttgart immediately after the race. This certainly seems to be confirmed by a photograph of these cars, bearing race nos. 28, 39, and 40, apparently lined-up outside the factory. The picture could have been taken in Lyons, but the lack of much interest, and the Germanic background, suggests otherwise, although the laurel wreaths each driver is wearing must have been brought with them, unless others were ready at Stuttgart — they are also wearing laurel-garlands on their heads, making them look more like Roman gladiators than stern Teutonic racing racing motorists!
Confusion arises because apparently the winning race no 28 was painted on all the cars before they went to the National Agents for Publicity purposes! Of the three left behind after the victory, Clark (who had the benefit of doing his research first, 29 years before Johnson applied himself to the problem) had it that Pilette’s damaged car went to the Mercedes depot in Long Acre, by London, Sailer’s was acquired after the war Count Masetti, and that the spare car probably told ended up at the Mercedes factory in Germany. He told me that he was certain that the car he had was the Pilett one, confirmed to him by Pilette’s son André which had been used as a practice car and entered for the race at the last minute, when Mercedes were anxious to take every possible step to break-up the opposition. Presumably they did this at double entry fees. This seems to be borne out by a pre-race photograph of the team-cars showing four cars numbered for the race but the fifth (Pilette’s?) having only a type number on its radiator. (See heading picture.)
Johnson saw it differently, suggesting that Pilette’s car, suffering engine damage, and not a broken prop.-shaft, was hastily put on a train to Germany on the outbreak of war but was intercepted by the Allied Military authorities and detained by them for the duration. Sailer’s car, he thought, got to the Paris Mercedes agent and was then requisitioned by the Military but was fortunately recognised by Baron Petier, who owned the Aries Motor Company, and so the broken con-rods and bearings were repaired and he used this Mercedes as his personal Staff-car, in his capacity of Inspector of Motorised Troops. He is said to have made many long runs in the old racing car, sometimes driving it from Lyons after the morning business was finished, to Paris, some 300 miles distant, and then on, after dinner to Chalons or somewhere else behind the fighting line, another 100 miles, all at some 18 m.p.g. This story came from an article W. F. Bradley did for The Autocar in 1925. It was supported by a photograph of the alleged Mercedes, said to have been taken at a French Army-depot during the war, with Sailer’s race number “14” painted on the radiator. However, the number is not as used in the race, when one numeral was on one face, the other numeral of the double number on the other face of the vee-radiator, one is the same kind of “4” used (a point that escaped Johnson). This inclines me to the view that the picture was faked to accord with the text; admittedly the occupants look like French officers rather than German racing drivers but the windscreen and mudguards Bradley says were fitted are absent. It may also be significant that, although Clark bases his other findings on Bradley’s article, he differs over this, and should, presumably, have known which car later came to him! It should also be remembered that Bradley was primarily a journalist.
Before continuing with this attempted unravelling, it may help to refer to the full beliefs of these three investigators shown in the table below.
When the enormity of the problem is seen, I hope I may be excused for dodging the task of resolving it, beyond the point of making such observations that occur to me. To add to the confusion, for instance, David Scott-Moncrieff, in “Three-Pointed Star” (Cassells, 1955), says that Zborowski’s car was the one Rolls-Royce examined during the war and that it was destroyed by fire or otherwise damaged after Lou’s death and never rebuilt, and that the de Palma car was brought to England about that time, sold to Edward Mayer, the great English Mercedes fancier, and became the Veal / Clark car.
Applying logic to the race outcome, the three cars that came home 1, 2, 3 were presumably in good order and returned at once to the Fatherland. Writing of a later Mercedes race winner, Neubauer told of patching it up, “as it would never do not to get it quickly back to the factory” — so, after such a fine 1914 team performance, all these cars no doubt returned there. Of the other three, Pilette’s was said to have broken its prop-shaft. It is known that the Mercedes engineers preferred chain drive as used on their 1913 GP cars and only used propeller shafts at the last moment, so this could have been the “Achilles’ heel.” Or, as the cylinders did not have removable heads, so the usual excuse, “blown gasket”, wasn’t valid, the prop-shaft perhaps became the scapegoat for an engine blow-up? Later in the race, when Sailer’s bearings gave out and the con-rods broke, either it was impossible to disguise the total disaster or by that time it had become evident to Mercedes that they were in a dominating position, so that it didn’t matter. (There hadn’t been time to fit a geared-up fifth speed, so with Sailer out to frighten the Peugeots and Pilette to prove himself in the hardly used training car no wonder these cars retired!)
Credence is given to the theory that Pilette’s engine broke, because Peter Clark told of his engine having its number four cylinder, stamped “No. VI,” suggestive of the “pot” from the spare car or spare engine having been used after the race to enable Pilette’s car to be driven to Brussels. The manager of the London Mercedes Company is reported as saying both Mercedes retired with “serious engine trouble”, and he, presumably, should have known, but this statement, made by Watney, was strongly denied by Mr. Davis, who then said that “Seiler’s (sic) car went out due to a broken petrol pipe and Pilette’s because it hit a bank and overturned”! The latter could, I suppose, have been a consequence of a broken propshaft. The ACF was strongly criticised for not issuing official reasons for the race retirements, so speculation was widespread, and no doubt biased. As Mercedes must have had more reserve engines than cars, surely (there is a 1914 GP engine in the Deutsche Museum) car No. VI could be repaired later.
If the intention was to send one to London, one to Belgium, and one to Paris, what would the ploy be? I would have thought Pilette would have driven his car to Brussels, Wagner perhaps have been responsible for the Parisienne display, and the spare car be shipped to London, for repair there. Johnson spoils this by suggesting that Pilette’s car had such serious engine damage that it was put on a train to Stuttgart on the eve of the war; rumour says the Allied Military Authority waylaid it and interned it for the duration (possibly confusion here with the fate of Sailer’s car?) and Clark by emphasising that, although Pilette was the Belgian Mercedes agent, he didn’t get his “own” car.
Of the successful Mercedes, Zborowski was reputed to have Salzer’s car when he entered it for Brooklands races in 1920 but it was later rumoured to be Lautenschlager’s winning car. It must be said that so often a car has been described as of the same type as a winning car and this has later been changed to “the winning car”, as has happened to “Malcolm Campbell” Bugattis, “Moss and Fangio” Maseratis, and so on, along the years. Johnson says Zborowski collected the car from the Continent, repeating what Capt. (later Lt.-Col.) Clive Gallop thought happened when I asked him, in 1947, hoping he might say “from Rolls-Royce”, which at the time seemed logical. But although Gallop may have prepared the car for Brooklands, I think the Count could have acquired it before Gallop joined him to work on “Chitty I” (it was raced here by the summer of 1920) and it may have been at Higham before Gallop arrived there. Mercedes, realising a ban would be imposed on German race entries, as they were until 1921, would have acquiesced to such a keen Mercedes enthusiast as Count Zborowski racing for them. It would seem highly probable that he had the R-R car. After all, Gallop was an Aero-Engine Inspector during the war and must have known the car was in Derby; it may have been Gallop who told W. O. Bentley of the interesting discovery at Mercedes’ London depot on the eve of the war. Incidentally, the Mercedes was towed by Comdr. Wilfred Briggs, RN, Head of the RNAS Engine Division, to R-R, Derby, on August 4th, 1914, suggesting it was the spare car awaiting its missing cylinder, although it could equally well have been Pilette’s, as Clark thinks.
I have heard that R-R were so honest that they paid DMG (Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft) royalties after the war on the Mercedes design-aspects cribbed for their Eagle aero-engines, so they would undoubtedly have reassembled the car they stripped and have returned it to Long Acre — and, as we know that the young Zborowski frequented the Mercedes depot in London at this time, doesn’t it all seem to fit? Except that in 1914 DMG were adamant about not disposing of the real No. 28, which they claimed to have in their museum until Mr. Mann queried this. Oh dear!
If DMG were glad to let Zborowski represent them in post-war Britain, when de Palma asked to buy one of the victorious GP team cars to race in the USA, they would have been happier still — German representation in a then-neutral America! Johnson says de Palma paid 6,000 dollars for a car and spares and even quotes the date — 25/7/14 — when it left for the States, that is, three weeks after the race. (Journalist Bradley says, dramatically, that it left just before the British Navy closed the high seas, that there were no spares for it, and that after winning the 1915 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race it was never much good — yet Mathieson credits it with many successes, up to 1920) I would have expected Mercedes to regard the winning Mercedes as too stressed for de Palma’s purpose and to have sold him Salzer’s 3rd-placed car but with a new engine. De Palma used a long-tailed body which may have been made in America, possibly to the DMG drawings Philip Mann showed me of bodies intended for the GP cars but with no time to complete them. Johnson says the USA car vanished after 1920, but I prefer the story that a man named Patterson (can any American historians assist here?) brought it to England with him and that it remained here, the Clark discovery. (After de Palma’s car got to America Horseless Age said first that it was the winning GP car, later that it was Salzer’s; a Mr. Patterson was its entrant for the Elgin races.)
Let’s look more closely at the alleged story of this Mercedes. Whether you think it the spare car or Pilette’s, Major Veal is supposed to have paid a deposit on it while it was at Long Acre in 1914. It is then said to have been purchased by an American, in 1919, called Harrison and sent to New York, and convened to touring trim with electric lighting only to return to London in 1922 for a “softer” camshaft. The Mercedes expert Edward Mayer is then thought to have added it to his long Mercedes repertoire (and he thought it was the spare car), until Major Veal found it under a dust sheet at Hooper’s and bought it in 1925. There is mention of a law-suit brought by the Major over the car. However, sooner or later in motor-racing history law-suits are mentioned that can be neither confirmed nor denied. I have never liked the “Harrison clues”. Why send a car across the Atlantic merely to have a different camshaft fitted? But if we accept the Patterson theory (Harrison an error for Patterson) it begins to fit. The American owner of the de Palma Indy-winning Mercedes brings it to England — probably the chassis — a member of the Mercedes-Benz Club thinks he saw it at C. H. Crown’s workshops in Kennington Lane, London, at the relevant time with its body removed, perhaps awaiting its touring camshaft and an overhaul. Veal is said to have discovered it languishing under a dust-sheet at Hooper’s the Coachbuilders, although as there was a vee-radiator Ninety Mercedes there before the war, I have wondered about possible confusion. Anyway, Major Veal, with an eye to an exciting motor car in the mid-vintage years, bought it, added more touring equipment, used a up to 1927, and sold it to Peter Clark, after it had been laid up for a dozen years.
Now we need to turn again to the winning (Lautenschlager) car. After the race, Gordon Watney, the celebrated Weybridge Mercedes-beautifier, announced that he had bought it for £1,200, and would race it at the next Brooklands meeting. This was announced in the motor press five days after the Lyons victory. DMG refused and he had to make-do with a Peugeot instead. Watney was offered one of the other four cars which one to be specified later, but it was not to be raced and would not be supplied for four weeks as it would be overhauled. Watney refused to have a car he wouldn’t be allowed to race, or £1,200 for one of the spare cars, so the deal was not concluded. Mr. Dewis of Milner-Daimler-Mercedes Ltd., representing DMG, announced that the winning car was not for sale, but that it would be displayed in their Long Acre showrooms; they expected it to arrive on July 27th. With all the cars given the victor’s number, perhaps this was the only line open to them, whether or not they received the Lautenschlager car!
It could be that someone had also promised Major Veal the winning Mercedes, on which he had paid his deposit, and it was from this that a law-suit resulted. If Veal had attained the rank of Major by that date he should have had a busy time ahead of him for the next few years; having seen a car of the sort he craved in 1914, when he emerged unscathed eleven years afterwards it may well have still tickled his motoring palate. . . .
There was a Trocadero banquet to celebrate the GP result, and it has been said two team-cars were on show thereat, but this appears to have been but a rumour. I believe there was the pre-race luncheon at which a Mercedes representative is said to have outlined the forthcoming Grand Prix plans, adding arrogantly that it was Mercedes’ intention to win! A Royal Aeronautical Society publication has it that an English brewer bought the winning Mercedes and took it to London before it went to Rolls-Royce, but I am inclined to think there may be confusion here with the Guinness’ purchase of the 1905 V8 Darracq, much earlier, unless Veal had brewing connections and had tried to get the Lautenschlager car without success. (The Mercedes that went to R-R at Derby is said in some reports to have been “stolen” from Shaftesbury Avenue, but the Mercedes showrooms and offices were then in Long Acre.)
Regarding the three 1914 cars that were used, rather surprisingly, in post-war Targa Florios, Count Masetti’s red-painted one winning the 1922 race, it must be remembered that there had been a difficult but courageous drive by Sailer, over war-torn roads on an impoverished supply of tyres, to get a 28/95 Mercedes to the 1921 Targa Florio, in which it was vanquished by Masetti’s 1914 GP Fiat. Seeing Masetti’s dashing driving and knowledge of the course, Sailer would have had no hesitation in conceding to the Italian Count’s request for one of the 1914 GP Mercedes, which he must have thought superior to his same-age GP Fiat, as an insurance against a Mercedes defeat in the 1922 Targa. DMG made a car available in 1921, in time for the Count to win the rather appropriate Gran Premio Gentlemen at Brescia, at 71.9 m.p.h. for 215 miles, from Ceirano and Alfa opposition. It is said that improved pistons were ready, with the 4WB for the 1922 Targa Florio, which Masetti wiped up at 39.2 m.p.h., after driving for not far short of seven hours, against strong Mercedes factory representation, including Lautenschlager and Salzer also in 4WB 1914 GP cars, Johnson says Sailer’s and Pilette’s, respectively. Rumour says these engines were now of 4.9-litres. There may be an identity clue in that at Brooklands Zborowski’s Mercedes was declared at the original GP size of 93 x 165 mm. Also, would Sailer’s car, found that year in France, according to Johnson, have been rebuilt in time for the Targa Florio? Anyway, I thought it wasn’t discovered until Sailer was in France in the 1930s with the Mercedes’ W.125 GP team?
Whichever they were, these old Mercedes continued to gain hill-climb and other successes up to 1925; it is said that when one was dug out for Salzer, he recognised his 1914 engine, confirming, perhaps, that de Palma had a new engine for the car he took to America. Even the great Caracciola, when already quite accomplished, used a 1914 GP Mercedes, with the remarkable addition of a supercharger, by which means Prof. Porsche pushed the power up, it is said, by nearly 50 b.h.p., which I would have expected sorely to any the 12-year-old long-stroke engine. Apparently a 2-litre chassis was used for this ploy, with a larger vee-radiator. The story goes that this car was sold in 1927 to Adolf Rosenberger, a wealthy driver whose racing stable DMG maintained. He got several minor victories with it but, foiled in his ambition to drive for Auto-Union, because he was Jewish and Hitler had come to power, he left for the USA and sold the 1914 car back to Mercedes. It is thought to have become part of their Museum rebuild, which may explain the over-large radiator one critic thinks he had noticed on that car.
The most interesting car in this speculation is that owned by Philip Mann, which was written up in MOTOR SPORT for June, 1970, when I described it as representing the “Restoration of the Decade.” It is universally thought to be the winning Lyons car, although Clark thinks that one went back to Stuttgart and never left.
Conversely, Bradley said that it was sent to Long Acre immediately after the race and “captured” by Rolls-Royce. It does rather look as though, if Zborowski got it, he did so from “somewhere in Europe” after the Armistice, when its allure would be somewhat diminished in a defeated Germany. Whichever it was, the Count and his friend R. F. (“Shugger”) Cooper had considerable success with the old car at Brooklands in 1920/22 but it was disposed of to the Robinson brothers around 1923. They had raced a Berliet of the same literage and a bigger Mercedes at the Track, but had little success with the Zborowski Mercedes and after that enthusiastic Brooklands exponent, C. G. Brocklebank, lost his 1913 GP Peugeot in the sad accident in 1924, that killed Capt. Toop, he acquired the car as a replacement. It was, however, never raced, and around 1927 the engine from his 4 1/2-litre Berliet and a London built four-seater body were used, on the Mercedes chassis. (This may have been due to the “blow-up” and fire referred to by Scott-Moncrieff.) The work is said to have been done by L. C. Rawlance, which makes sense, as he had done work on Brocklebank’s Peugeot.
Later the hybrid was sold to a relation, a Capt. G. Pane. It is to his great credit that he not only put the Mercedes engine back into the chassis, although retaining the touring body, but ran the old warrior until 1932 — he must have been a keen motorist! Stanley Sears and Philip Mann found the famous car languishing in Essex after the war. After much persuasion they were allowed to buy it and when Sears went to Portugal, Mann took over, having the Mercedes meticulously resuscitated.
I was the first to ride in the car afterwards. A “non-factory” con-rod was found in the engine, but whether a legacy of a Lyons, a Zborowski, a Robinson or a Brocklebank catastrophe, I do not know. A few queries remain. The car’s identity as the Lautenschlager Mercedes is said to be confirmed by the “No. IIs” stamped on it in various places, but it is not clear to me whether the full engine and chassis numbers are still there that were declared for this car when it was entered for the BARC races in 1921 for Zborowski, probably by the conscientious and meticulous Gallop, assuming this is that car. Johnson hinted at other than team-numbers being on the Museum cars, and that the same team-numbering of parts may have been duplicated on all the cars. If all the cars were numbered 28 after the race, why shouldn’t the thorough Germans not have stamped “II” on all the components as well? There is the further puzzle as to why, when Mann located the allegedly Lautenschlager car, it was registered DD 982, instead of FN 3392 as Zborowski’s Mercedes had been. The swopping about of number plates should not be taken too seriously; but it does seem odd that, as it is the chassis which is registered, and there was therefore no need to alter the number plates when another engine was installed and as we may presume that none of those through whose hands the car passed was so impecunious as to have to share one licence between two cars(!), this change took place. The DD registration, incidentally, was not used either for Brocklebank’s Berliet or his GP Peugeot, which both had London number plates. And that Mr. Mann has never, as far as is known, applied for the more historic registration . . .
It has been rumoured that two spare cars were built (which seems not unreasonable to back up five in the Grand Prix team) that both came to London, one being advertised for sale there in 1930 in touring trim. It would be tidy to suggest that the three cars that went back to DMG in 1914 became the 4WB Targa Florio cars, Lautenschlager and Salzer reuniting with their GP Mercedes, that de Palma had one spare car, and that England the other spare can and Pilette’s came to England . . .
I am inclined to agree with Peter Clark who has confessed that he and Pomeroy were of the opinion that, short of actually locating each surviving car and comparing its engine number (not team number, note) with records at Stuttgart, it is hopeless to try to trace which one went where. However, someone with a more logical mind than mine, a chess-player’s intellect, may like to try. — W.B.
(It is a capital mistake to theorise before you have a the evidence. It biases the judgement. — Sherlock Holmes).
1. When looking for clues, note that the external petrol-pipe runs, and the tails of the bodies were not the same on all the team-cars. Do not be misled by a photograph of Masetti’s Mercedes, in the 1922 Targa Florio with “40” on its radiator, into assuming that proves it to have been the Wagner GP car; Mathieson says this was the car’s number in the Targa Florio also. In any case, as with the “14” on the car alleged to be Sailer’s (see text), it does not conform to the way the GP numbers were inscribed.
2.The Autocar caused confusion by at first reporting that the 1922 Targa Florio had been won by Masetti in one of the new 7.2-litre 28/95 Mercedes — and that Biagio Mazzaro had been killed (which didn’t happen until the Grand Prix). A week later both errors were corrected, Masetti being quoted as having won with one of the 1914 GP Mercedes. Ballots were 2nd and 3rd, Sailer’s 28/95 Mercedes 6th, Werner’s 8th, Lautenschlager’s 1914 car 10th, Salzer’s 1914 car 13th and a new 1 1/2-litre Mercedes 20th, behind Neubauer who was driving an Austro-Daimler. Note that all three 1914 Mercedes were quoted as of 4.9-litres.
3. The question of what became of de Palma’s 1914 Mercedes, if it didn’t return to this country was looked at by D. Scott-Moncrieff in MOTOR SPORT for December, 1970. The Packard Motor Company seems to have re-bodied the car, studying its engine at the same time, which is said to have helped them with the Liberty acre-engine — so the Paul Daimler / Dr. Nallinger design of 1914 can be said to have influenced Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Liberty and indirectly Straker-Squire power units . . .
4. The sequence of Gordon Watney’s interest, as reported by The Autocar, can be summarised as: One of the cars sold to him during week of July. Told in interview with MDM he could not race car at any English meeting in 1914. Replied that this was last thing one would anticipate when buying a racing car and not mentioned before sale confirmation at price asked (£1,200), as he had entered it for August Brooklands Meeting. MDM said on July 18th, winning car not sold, and to be exhibited at their showrooms at 132, Long Acre. By July 25th Mr. Dewis of MDM said he told Mr. Watney of the wish of DMG but did not make it a condition of acceptance of his order. This winning car was not available but Watney would be notified as to which one of the other four cars he was to receive, “delivery Unterturkheim”, after an overhaul taking four weeks. If Watney didn’t comply, order would stand, as MDM expected to be able to sell to someone else. Watney then explained on August 1st that he had announced his purchase of the winning car at a lunch at his works (in Weybridge?) to celebrate the race victory, before Dewis said the air was to be reserved for exhibition purposes. He didn’t want the car he bought overhauled, as he could do this at this works, for the special conditions imposed by Brooklands; he would now accept any one of the Mercedes that finished the race, but not the two which retired, as Dewis had told him they had serious engine defects. If he could not race the car until 1915, however, its value would have gone. (Was it over this and Watney’s deposit there was a Law-suit?) On August 8th Dewis said Watney never produced the cheque for £1,200 as alleged, but they would still sell him a car, for a deposit of £200; Dewis denied serious engine failure of Sailer’s and Pilette’s Mercedes. (Whether the agents then knew that at least three cars were to be passed off as having been Lautenschlager’s we do not know, but if they did they would have to box carefully!)
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