After the success of the Mercedes-Benz SSKL during the 1920s and early 1930s a new era for the company arose in 1934. This came in the form of the W 25 which was to be first seen in action at Avus and Eifel races. These were the precursor to the initial test for the vehicle at the French Grand Prix on the first of July 1934. Victory in France would have been quite an achievement but it was not to be, but the W 25 had begun what was to become an auspicious journey. Before the process of moving money to support the vehicle it had to be tested and during the 1934 season this vehicle would pass its test with flying colours.
The dymanic team
The man at the helm for the project was Hans Nibel with Max Wagner working on the chassis, and Otto Schilling for the engine. This was a well seasoned team of veterans who worked tirelessly looking for perfection in every aspect. Even by modern day standards this was an advanced vehicle sporting a V4 engine with twin camshafts, a supercharger on the front and pressurised carburettors. The frame of the vehicle was comprised U sections with cross bracing. As was the case with SSKL the chassis was pierced to lighten its load. The combined effect of the lightweight chassis and flying engine made it a force to be reckoned with and it was not long before it was leaving the likes of Alfa Romeo in its wake.
The season began with the hit team of Manfred von Brauchitsch, Luigi Fagioli and Rudolf Caracciola at the wheels debuting the W 25 at the Eifel race. Much was anticipated from the vehicle following its impressive test performance and over the course of the first season it did not fail to deliver with 16 Grand Prix victories, an impressive first season performance by any standards. The W 25 had arrived and it was lighting up the tracks wherever it went. Despite the initial success of the 1934 season the vehicle did not go on to dominate racing as anticipated. Instead that would be the fate of a subsequent Mercedes-Benz vehicle.
In 1937 the next generation: The Mercedes-Benz W 125
Unsatisfied with the successes in 1934 and following a couple of lack lustre seasons where the W 25 failed to push on from some of it’s earlier promise the Mercedes-Benz team produced a new vehicle and something which was about to revolutionise motor racing. The W 125 had a tubular frame made from special steel and was equipped with all of the features which had set the W 25 off on its initially successful campaign. The car was tested extensively at the Nürburgring circuit and it was here that some breakthroughs were made on the car’s set up. The feature which set this vehicle apart though was the suspension configuration. For this the engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, reversed the basic suspension set up with dynamic effect. The eight cylinder in line engine gave the car more force than any other vehicle in the Mercedes-Benz evolution. For the season opening Avus race on the 30th May 1937 race driver Hermann Lang achieved an incredible average speed of 261.7 km/h.
Triumph in versatility
The vehicle also represented a triumph in versatility and was uniquely adaptable. Almost every aspect of the car could be tailored to the tracks on which it was set to race. The race team engineered every component to optimize performance though fuels, tyres, engine and chassis. Transmission ratios were tweaked, petrols cocktailed and tyre treads tailored. In as much as the car was a triumph of engineering, the herculean effort that went on around the vehicle is comparable to the kind of support that the modern day Formula 1 team is assisted by. The W 125 was only employed for a single racing year, but during that year it helped to make advancements in almost every aspect of racing technology. At just 1097 Kilos it was a truly lightweight super car. Just like the 216 km/h average speed it set the benchmark in almost every aspect for all subsequent vehicles to be measured by. It was nearly two decades before a vehicle would be developed to surpass its performance.
About the author: Imogen Reed is a young professional writer and researcher with 5-year online experience. Through this period, he has collaborated with several websites and weblogs, such as Black Presence, Geeky Stuffs, Eyebridge Blog, I don't Give A Damn Blog and My Information Security Blog.
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