THE 38-250 H.P. SUPERCHARGED MERCE’DgS. BY THE EDITOR.
NOT long ago we were present at a motoring club dinner, and after the health of the club had been proposed in a very flattering manner by some eloquent stranger invited for the purpose, the somewhat embarrassed secretary rose to reply, Supporting himself both morally and physically by clutching the edge of the table firmly with both hands he delivered the following speech, “Er—Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen.—Words fail me ! ” and resumed his seat amid tumultuous applause.
On commencing to set down our impressions of a run in the famous Mercedes in which Herr Carraciola recently won the Ulster Tourist Trophy, we cannot but envy our friend for the easy way in which he got out of a difficult task. However there is no such simple solution for us and we must attempt to convey with an inadequate pen, what can only be fully realised by actual experience at the wheel of the most amazing motor car it has ever been our fortune to drive.
Through the kindness of Earl Howe, who has now become the owner of the vehicle in question, we arrived at the Mercedes-Benz showrooms in Davies Street to find the famous white car waiting for us. We took the passengers’ seat while Mr. Garman of Mercedes took the wheel and gave us an excellent demonstration of the handiness of the big car in London traffic, and also Showed that the wet streets left by the morning’s showers appeared to have no effect whatever on the stopping ability of the servo brakes, which pulled us up as violently as required without a sign of locking a wheel or deviating from the straight. Once out of town we changed places with a view to finding out for ourselves whether the rumours of speed and power of the latest ” Mere ” were well founded. During the eatly part of our test the roads were still wet and we had some fears that it might be inadvisable to try and find out what was really possible in the way of speed. However a few minutes at the wheel sufficed to show us that although the Mercedes is a big car in actual size, it handles in every way as well as the neatest little road-racer ever built. When about two years ago we first tried the 33/180 h.p. model we realised that the
firm undoubtedly held the secret of building a car of terrific power combined with absolute reliability. However, good car though that certainly was, we found that. at 100 m.p.h. on an ordinary road the holding of it was a definitely full time job for both hands, but driving the latest effort soon explained to us why SO many people who witnessed the Tourist Trophy stated that the Mercedes cornered on the wet roads ” as if on rails.” In fact the only trouble due to the wet roads was the fact that bringing the supercharger into action merely produced wheelspin even in the top gear of 2.75 to 1, which will serve to give some idea of the colossal power at our disposal.
For the benefit of those not already familiar with the principle of supercharging used on the Mercedes, we should mention that throughout the normal movement of the accelerator up to full throttle atmospheric induction is employed, but on depressing the pedal still further the blower is engaged by means of a clutch and the mixture is then fed to the cylinders under pressure. This system has a great advantage for ordinary road work over the continuously operating blower from the poittt of view of quietness and reliability, and alone makes it possible to build a car with a speed range on top gear from a little over walking pace to close on two miles a minute.
The roads now being nearly dry we turned north and on the first stretch free from appreciable traffic, we stepped on the blower, the mellow roar of the exhaust was drowned in a shrill scream ; the car leapt forward and we had to shut down and brake almost immediately. However we had passed the 3-figure mark on a stretch of road so short that few sports cars would have engaged top gear. A little further on another more inviting piece of road presented itself and from a speed of about 45 m.p.h. without changing gear we again gave full bore, and were forced hard against the back of the seat by the terrific acceleration, while the whine of the blower rose higher and higher, and we were still accelerating when a slight bend made it advisable to slow down again. We glanced at our passenger who had been following the movement of the huge rev, counter in the centre of the instrument board. • ‘Three thousand, two hundred, that’s supposed to be maximum revs.” “What speed ? ” we enquired. ” 114 m.p.h.” was the reply.
By this time we were thoroughly intrigued with this modern and very refreshing magic carpet, and the next few miles were covered at speeds which put quite a new interpretation on our previous ideas of road distances. There are many who may hold that high speeds on the open road are unsafe, and we agree that in many cars we have driven, half the speed of the Mercedes is dangerous. but on a car with steering such as this and brakes with which the merest caress of the foot is sufficient for all normal needs, it is definitely safe and easy to average speeds ol over a mile a minute on any reasonable open main road run. The gears are admirably chosen being very close, and the change is easy to operate. Upward changes can be effected with only a very short pause between the ratios,
in many harshly sprung racing cars, whose speed however is well below that of the Mere.
On the way back we kept up a moie consistent pace and found that a very comfortable cruising speed of 70 to 75 m.p.h. could be maintained on the merest whiff of throttle, while not more than half throttle was sufficient to hold over 90 m.p.h. Another instance of the astonishing power of the brakes was providect when a long, slightly up hill straight was being dealt with to the tune of 110 m.p.h. and the familiar red triangle of a hidden cross-roads loomed up in our path. We applied the brakes from full speed, and without a tremor in the steering or a squeal from a tyre, our speed was reduced to less than 10 m.p.h. well before
the required point, we trickled gently over the danger zone as a good motorist should, and then without bothering to change down we were up to the century mark again in a few seconds !
This property of low speeds on top is one of the outstanding features of the car and it will potter gently through traffic at 8 m.p.h. on this ratio without a sign of roughness, and if the spark is retarded will pick up from this speed without any fuss. In fact its extremely sober behaviour when once more back in the congestion which is London left nothing to be desired and. when we regretfully pulled up in Davies Street nothing but its wonderfully impressive appearance suggested its amazing performance on the open road.
with the result that the acceleration using the gears is absolutely phenomenal. Without the blower in action it is greater than any sports car we have ever been in, and there are few racing cars which could equal it, while with the blower in action on the lower gears—well, nothing but an actual run in the car can give any idea of the power developed by the 7-litre engine of the latest Mercedes.
After a halt for lunch on our test we again boarded the car and set off for home, making at the same time a mental reservation of our only criticism of the Mere, and that is that it is not a very easy matter to get in and out. This was largely due to the fact that the writer is somewhat above standard size, but owing to the lowness of the steering wheel and the fact that the body is merely cut low at the sides of the front seat instead of being provided with doors, it is likely that anyone would find the same trouble to a lesser extent. The seating is extremely comfortable however and the road-holding at high speeds is such that the motion is entirely free from that hammering which is the chief cause of discomfort