A Sixty Mercedes

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Sir, I was most interested in your comments on the 1903 60h.p. Mercedes now owned by Peter Hampton.

It was, as you say, “unearthed” by Ernest Martin, of Friary Motors, Old Windsor (I saw him a year or so back, when he was living at Blackheath). How he traced the thing, in Ireland, I can’t now recall, but I don’t think he ever actually owned it . . . he borrowed it from its Irish owner. The car was shipped to England (Tilbury or London Docks, can’t remember) and towed down to Old Windsor. The story was, so far as I can recall, that it had been in use until about 1908, when its scroll clutch was removed for use on a later Mercedes. Thereafter it languished in the garage, though its engine was supposed to have been started around 1918!

The igniters were cleaned up; the I.t. mag. was removed, despatched for renovation and replaced; some fuel was squirted into the cylinders by way of priming, and on the first swing she fired, and on the second she ran . . . steadily and well. There remained the problem of the scroll clutch, and Martin wrote off to Stuttgart to enquire if they could dig out any old blue prints showing precise details. Mercedes replied promptly, sending the blue-prints and offering to supply a spare from stock! This in about 1930/31 for a 1903 car! However, the price demanded was astronomical, and it was cheaper to have a scroll made up over here. Once that was installed, the car went like a bomb, albeit a most tractable and gentlemanly bomb. In fact more than once I went shopping on it in Windsor, and indeed I once even slept in it, the night before a race meeting at Brooklands when we’d been working late. And I was one of a happy gang of five passengers who accompanied Martin in it when he drove it in a Mountain race at the Brooklands August meeting in 1932. . . with little success, for it overheated (too many passengers?) and wasn’t placed.

From Martin it passed into the hands of Anne Selsdon and, driven by Peter Mitchell-Thomson (later Lord Selsdon) figured several times in the London-Brighton run. I’m sorry to hear it then got into such a bad state, but it is good to hear that it is now restored and cherished.

London, N6.

Roland King-Farlow