Writers like Eoin Young, Doug Nye and Michael Riedner have been recalling that splendid Mercedes-Benz transporter built to carry racing cars like the W196 Mercedes quickly to and from the 1950s race circuits. Powered by a 300SL engine, this impressive transporter had a top speed of about 100 mph and accommodation for one W196 or 300 SLR racing car on its flat platform, behind a cab that overhung the front wheels. An impressive machine, it was a piece of genius on the part of Rudolf Uhlenhaut.
It was a far cry from that high and ungainly Mercedes truck, which ran at first on solid tyres, used by Count Louis Zborowski for transporting his racing cars, such as the 2-litre Miller, about Europe in the mid-1920s. The photographs I first saw of it were shown to me by Sydney Maslin, who worked for the Count, and one was reproduced in MOTOR SPORT. When low-pressure balloon tyres became news this Mercedes was equipped with them and S C H Davis said of it in his autobiography, when it was used to take the Miller to Lyon for the 1924 French GP: “We had a tremendous time, the car journeying to Lyon in a special, beautifully fitted Mercedes lorry, capable of 52 mph . . .”. Imagine driving such a vehicle over the roads of those days, far into France and Spain! Incidentally, after Zborowski had been killed at Monza later in 1924, driving for Mercedes in the works team, his body was brought back to England on this same Mercedes lorry. . .
All this overlooks another MercedesBenz racing car transporter, the pig in the middle, as it were. In 1927 Raymond Mays drove a 2-litre Targa Florio Mercedes in sprint events, with considerable success. In his autobiography Mays describes how this car was taken to and from these meetings: “Frank Seddon (MD of the British Mercedes-Benz Company) provided a supercharged Mercedes chassis, fitted with a special body to carry the racing car, and Moore, the mechanic, was to drive this ‘freighter'”. It seems probable that this was a 33/180 hp Mercedes, a car of the type demonstrated by Mays over the New Year weekend in Scotland, or perhaps it was a 33/140 hp chassis, as the more powerful Mercedes model did not arrive in England until 1926, and a brand new one might not have been spared for the purpose. Was this forgotten Mercedes racing car transporter ever photographed, I wonder? WB
As a number of errors crept in last month; the picture on p.374 is of the 1907 Renault in America, with its new mudguards, not David Harrison’s, the KRC in a cornfield was actually using this as part of the NW London MC’s trial, and in the article on MCC trials Kimber’s MG won a “gold” on its first appearance in the 1925 Land’s End, the little cars in the 1921 event were Marcays, not Marcuys, and the KRC would have been taxed at £9, not £39. And the “Silver Bullet” was in Southport, Lancs., not London.
Arising out of the Forgotten Makes feature on the Calcott, Ernie Warmington, who has three Calcott cars, a Calcott motorcycle and a Calcott bicycle, reminds us that there was a 6cwt van, made in 1915 only, and that the first motorcycle was a 3 1/2 hp White & Poppe engined machine announced in 1910.
We are sorry to learn of the death, at the age of 81, of Eric Gordon Tate, who was well acquainted with the MOTOR SPORT staff, chaps like Lionel Hutchings, W S Braidwood, Grenville Manton and others, who were in almost at the birth of the paper. Indeed, Mr Tate discussed them, and the hilarious times they had all those years ago, when we lunched at the “Radnorshire Arms” in Presteigne some time back. He was clearly a 100% motoring enthusiast who had raced his first motorcycle at the age of 14 and in the days when he lived in Bushey ran a Morris two-seater before acquiring faster stuff. When I met him he was a Jensen enthusiast! WB
This year’s Bugatti OC Spring Rally was based on Malvern and Hereford, with the Saturday lunch at the Cider Museum in the latter town, where a 1902 Minerva motorcycle bought for one of Bulmer’s earliest travellers greets visitors in the foyer. (There had been thoughts of holding the event at Brooklands but the £1000 fee demanded seemed too high for what could be regarded as a useful pre-view of coming Museum rallies.)
In warm Spring sunshine those attending included organiser Ian Finlater (T43), Neil Corner in the ex-Symondson T57S which he finds a practical everyday car, G St. John’s black and yellow T55, Bob Wickham’s T37A with luggage strapped on the side in pukka Continental touring style, the Brescias of Ernie Allen, David Sewell and Paul Roberts, Robin Townsend’s Japanese-owned T43, B Clark’s 140, T Cardy’s T43A, Lord Raglan’s red T51, J Barton’s replica-chassised T37, Mark Garfitt with Sally Marsh’s T35, M Marshall’s T35 with replica chassis and Rosemary Burke in her T30.
The Boltons had substituted their 1928 Salmson GPS for the Brescia and supporting cars included Barrie Price’s immaculate Mercedes-Benz 300SL coupé and an equally immaculate open 6.7-litre Bentley Continental convertible. A fine assembly of the right sort of motor cars and when I left their crews were going off to admire the GWR King George V and other steam locos at the Bulmers Railway Centre. WB
Following our piece last month on the old MCC trials, for those who wish to join this very long established club, the membership secretary is M D Furze, 405 Chartridge Lane, Chartridge, Chesham, Bucks. HP5 3SL and the magazine Triple keeps one informed of current MCC events and more of its history. WB
Bill (ERA) Morris held a party to celebrate the import from Australia (six months by sea and some damage en route) of his 1922/23 16/40 Sunbeam semi-sporting tourer with the ov (No. 27) four-cylinder 3-litre single-ohc 16-valve engine, the only one of its kind in this country. An interesting item is the use of twin ignition distributors side-by-side at the front of the engine, on the off-side, whereas the prototype engine (probably brought out by Louis Coatalen as a stop-gap to the Bentley challenge, before the twin-cam 3-litre was designed) had the coil ignition distributors set as a vee. There was a six cylinder 4 1/2 litre version of this engine announced in 1921 but speculation suggests that it was never made. Among those who discussed these things and admired this handsome and unique Sunbeam were Sunbeam historian Anthony Heal, who arrived in his well-known twin-cam 3-litre, Bill Barrott, Secretary of the STD Register, Winifred Boddy, STD President, Mr Wyndham-Welsh who owned two twin cam 3-litres before turning his attention to an MG Magna and Bill’s brother Ben, who is a motor cycling enthusiast. WB