The Mercedes-Lohner

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148

Sir,

I was interested to read, in the V-E-V column of the July Motor Sport, that one of the cars listed by Mr. Maslin as owned by Count Zborowski between 1920 and 1924 was “an odd electric Austro-Daimler, probably of Porsche origins . ..”

Presumably this was one of the cars which appeared at the Nice meeting of 1902, and of which The Autocar said on 19th April that “a great deal of curiosity had been manifested in the new mixed type of vehicle which was being constructed for the Nice meeting by Messrs. Lohner and Porsche of Vienna . .. Its proper designation is a Mercedes-Lohner, and it is, in fact, merely a 28 HT. Mercedes car with electrical transmission. On the clutchshaft is a dynamo, which only runs when the petrol motor is put in gear, and the electrical energy thus developed is conveyed directly to the motors on the front wheels. Resistances are interposed between the dynamo and the motors to get fifteen different speeds

It is a curiosity of history that, just at the moment when Mercedes were enormously improving the sliding-pinion change-speed gear by introducing multiple selectors (let’s face it, multiple “baladeurs”), Messrs. Lohner and Porsche should have devised this scheme for eliminating it altogether. It does not seem to have been a great success, and indeed I have always wondered what the steering was like, with all that unsprung weight of the electric motors on the front wheels. Unfortunately Mr Maslin evidently cannot enlighten us, as he says that they never got Zborowski’s car running. No doubt The Autocar was as prescient as ever in 1902 when, after admitting that “the car is extremely quiet, and runs with every possible variation of speed without gearing of any kind,” it warned its readers that “there remains the old objection, that the owner must not only be thoroughly acquainted with his petrol motor, but must also be an electrician as well.”

George Nympt on KENT KARSLAKE

(While on this subject of Count Zborowski, the car which was thought to have possibly dropped the oil on which the Count’s Mercedes may have skidded was an Alfa Romeo, not a Peugeot as stated. I like history to remain undistorted but am relieved that Mr. Karslake has not taken me to task over this silly slip! Ed.)