I was most interested to read “Rich Rumour” in October’s issue. Having had access to official Mercedes archives, I am able to establish with a fair degree of certainty that the remains of Dick Seaman’s crashed Mercedes are not buried in the grounds of Pull Court, near Tewkesbury.
This has nothing to do with any pro or anti-German feelings of Mrs Beattie Seaman, but to the fact that Mercedes Rennabteilung was too well structured and organised to allow one of its cars to be “smuggled at night”, even to the estate of one of its bemoaned drivers.
Amid my extensive documentation on the topic, I have a report, issued on July 8, 1939, titled “Findings on the cars after the Belgian Grand Prix”, and signed by Krauss. Pages four and five are subtitled “Findings on Seaman’s car after the accident; car no 5, engine no 14, run for 652kms”. It details the state of the car’s various components, this being valid proof that the car was taken back to Unterturkheim and analysed in the racing workshops, as was the usual procedure. It says:
1) Chassis no 5′ damaged through accident and useless. Torn away in the middle through bending.
2) Front axle: still useable in spite of heavy accident. Parts will be tested in view of possible re-use.
3) Gearbox no 6. has suffered little, and may be re-used.
4) Rear axle no 11 totally unuseable following severe crash.
5) Clutch: still useable.
6) Steering: in order and still useable.
7) Radiators: all in good order. Oil tank: crushed and unuseable. Fuel tanks: saddle-tank unuseable, but rear tank just had mounting ripped off. Engine and front end of body have no damage and will be re-used.
Later reports show that engine no 14 was used for the German GP in the training car, kept throughout the war, run in Argentina, and finally scrapped in 1955. I have no evidence of gearbox no 6 seeing further service.
Thus we know the wreck was dismantled, analysed, and some parts placed as spares after the usual thorough testing.
An inventory of the Unterturkheirn workshop dated October 17, 1939, gives 10 cars and eight serviceable engines, not 10 supplementary engines!
I agree fully with the doubts you have over the accuracy of these rumours; are they perhaps worded to give some authenticity to some recreation out of a hidden workshop? It has happened several times in motor-car history! Thank you for keeping the flag of history flying with pride.
Yves Kaltenbach, Lyon, France.