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Silver Arrows of the 1950s at the Louwman Museum ... Special exhibition from 7 July to 2 September 2018


Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort on 19 June 1955. Winner Juan Manuel Fangio (start number 8), followed by Stirling Moss (start number 10), both in Mercedes-Benz Formula One racing cars W 196 R

Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort on 19 June 1955. Winner Juan Manuel Fangio (start number 8), followed by Stirling Moss (start number 10), both in Mercedes-Benz Formula One racing cars W 196 R

 

Stuttgart, 6 July, 2018

The racing stars of the 1950s are going on an exclusive journey: in summer 2018: the Dutch Louwman Museum in The Hague is showing a special exhibition entitled “Silver Arrows. Mercedes-Benz Racing Cars of the 1950s”. It is the renowned museum’s second exhibition of Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows. From October 2012 to January 2013, it showed “Silver Arrows 1934–1939”.

A total of seven famous vehicles from the second Silver Arrow era will be made available for the new exhibition by Mercedes-Benz Classic. The exhibits span the period from the Stuttgart brand’s re-entry into motor sport in 1952 with the 300 SL racing car (W 194) to the exceptionally successful competition season of 1955.

Juan Manuel Fangio’s victory in both the 1954 and 1955 Formula One world championships will be represented by 2.5-litre racing cars W 196 R with streamlined body and free-standing wheels. An exhibit with a special relationship to Dutch motor sport history is the W 196 R with start number 10: this vehicle with free-standing wheels was the one in which Stirling Moss finished second in the Dutch Grand Prix on 19 June 1955 in Zandvoort – just behind his team colleague Juan Manuel Fangio.

The 300 SLR racing car (W 196 S) in the special version with an “air brake” recalls the winning of the 1955 World Sports Car Championship. Finally, the 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198) bears witness to the racing successes with series production sports cars. Special exhibits are the 300 SLR “ Uhlenhaut Coupé” and the high-speed racing car transporter. Developed in 1955, the coupé version of the W 196 S was supposed to compete in the 1956 season. However, due to the Stuttgart brand’s decision to pull out of motor sport at the end of the 1955 season, the vehicle was never raced. It became famous as the official sporting car of Rudolf Uhlenhaut, who at that time was head of testing at Daimler-Benz. Nicknamed “The Blue Wonder”, the high-speed racing car transporter was built for especially urgent transport between the factory and the race track in the 1955 season.

World-class museum

The Louwman Museum, which opened at its present location in 2010, is home to the world’s oldest publicly accessible private automobile collection. In an exhibition area of over 10,000 square metres, an outstanding collection of classic vehicles and automotive art is on view in The Hague. The Louwman Museum ranks as the Netherlands’ national motor museum.

The museum dates back to the Pieter Louwman collection, which was founded in the 1930s. Today, the director of the museum is Evert Louwman, son of the founder. The permanent exhibition consists of the areas “The Dawn of Motoring”, “Motoring”, “Racing” and “Luxury”. The exhibits include the world’s largest collection of Spyker vehicles. Built in 1887, the museum’s De Dion-Bouton et Trépardoux is considered to be the world’s second-oldest car.

Opened in 2010, today’s museum building was designed by US architects Michael Graves and Gary Lapera. Prior to completion of the three-storey building, the Louwman family’s collection could be seen in Leidschendam and Raamsdonksveer under the names “Nationaal Automobiel Museum” and “Louwman Collection”. 

“Silver Arrows. Mercedes-Benz Racing Cars of the 1950s” at the Louwman Museum: Mercedes-Benz Classic vehicles

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing car (W 194)

It was with the 300 SL racing car that Mercedes-Benz re-entered the international motor sport arena for the first time after the Second World War in 1952. An aerodynamic, light-alloy body was mounted on an extremely light yet torsionally very stiff spaceframe, the high side parts of which made it necessary to opt for the characteristic gullwing doors. In its first race in the 1952 Mille Miglia, the 300 SL finished second with Karl Kling and Hans Klenk at the wheel. After that, it was one victory after the next: the 300 SL posted a triple victory in the Bern Grand Prix (Switzerland), followed by spectacular one-two finishes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (France) and in the Carrera Panamericana in Mexico. At the “Great Nürburgring Anniversary Grand Prix”, the 300 SL, in an open-top version, even took the first four places. The exhibited vehicle with chassis end number 2 is the oldest SL preserved to date and still has short doors extending only as far as the beltline.

Technical data
Period of use: 1952
Cylinders: 6/in-line
Displacement: 2,996 cc
Output: 125 kW (170 hp)
Top speed: 230 km/h 

Mercedes-Benz streamlined 2.5-litre racing car W 196 R

The streamlined W 196 R car marked Mercedes-Benz’s return to Grand Prix racing in 1954 after a 15-year absence. The new Formula One car complied with a new rule that had just come into force, stipulating a maximum displacement of 2.5 litres. The all-new eight-cylinder in-line engine with petrol injection allowed rotational speeds of over 8,000 rpm thanks to its desmodromic valve timing, which dispensed with the need for the customary valve springs. In the very first race on 4 July 1954 in Rheims, Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling posted a double victory. The racing car was the futuristic-looking version with a streamlined body, which was designed for fast race tracks such as the one in Rheims. Following three more victories, Fangio finished the season as Formula One world champion. At the wheel of the improved version of the streamlined car, he was victorious in the 1955 Italian Grand Prix in Monza and went on to become world champion again in a Mercedes-Benz.

Technical data
Period of use: 1954 to 1955
Cylinders: 8/in-line
Displacement: 2,497 cc
Output: 188 kW (256 hp) to 213 kW (290 hp)
Top speed: More than 300 km/h 

Mercedes-Benz 2.5-litre racing car W 196 R

Most Formula One races in 1954 and 1955 were contested by the W 196 R in a version with free-standing wheels. This version was more suitable for winding tracks, because the driver always had the front wheels in view. Similarly to the success of the streamlined car four weeks previously, this version’s debut in the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in August 1954 ended in victory for Juan Manuel Fangio. For its second season, the W 196 R was provided with a straight intake manifold, which allowed an increase in output and was identifiable by an extra bulge on the left-hand side. In addition, it was used with different wheelbases; there were also various arrangements of the drum brakes. Once again, the result was a superior racing car. The highlights of the 1955 season included a one-two finish for the Silver Arrows at Zandvoort in the Netherlands. Fangio was victorious ahead of his team colleague Stirling Moss and won the world title for the second time at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz.

Technical data
Period of use: 1954 to 1955
Cylinders: 8/in-line
Displacement: 2,497 cc
Output: 188 kW (256 hp) to 213 kW (290 hp)
Top speed: Up to 300 km/h 

Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racing car (W 196 S)

Mercedes-Benz developed the 300 SLR (W 196 S) for the 1955 World Sports Car Championship. It was based on the successful W 196 R Formula One racing car. The main difference besides the body was the engine: the racing car did not have to comply with the Formula One displacement limit and was powered by a three-litre version of the eight-cylinder in-line engine, which ran on regular premium-grade petrol rather than special racing fuel. Its high performance potential and unrivalled durability and reliability made the 300 SLR far superior to its competitors in 1955. This was impressively demonstrated by one-two finishes in the Mille Miglia, the Eifel Race, the Swedish Grand Prix and the Targa Florio (Sicily), a one-two-three finish in the Tourist Trophy in Ireland and victory in the World Sports Car Championship. The vehicle on show is the first of a total of nine to be equipped with the unusual air brake.

Technical data
Period of use: 1955
Cylinders: 8/in-line
Displacement: 2,982 cc
Output: 222 kW (302 hp)
Top speed: More than 300 km/h 

Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Coupé “Uhlenhaut Coupé” (W 196 S)

The closed version of the 300 SLR racing car was developed for the 1956 season to afford better protection to the Mercedes-Benz team drivers during strenuous long-distance races. However, it was never raced, because Mercedes-Benz decided to pull out of motor sport at the end of the 1955 season. Instead, the 300 SLR Coupé was used by the head of testing, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, as a company car. This fact is today brought to mind by the nickname “Uhlenhaut Coupé”. The 300 SLR was so robust and suitable for everyday use that, in the summer of 1955, Mercedes-Benz made one of the two coupés available to “Automobil Revue” for high-speed trials and a long-distance test over 3,500 kilometres. In its test report, the Swiss magazine praised the safe handling of the dream sports car, also at its top speed of 290 km/h, an outstandingly high figure by the standards of the day. Today, the “Uhlenhaut Coupé”, which is not for sale, is deemed as an automobile with extremely high potential value.

Technical data
Period of use: 1955
Cylinders: 8/in-line
Displacement: 2,982 cc
Output: 222 kW (302 hp)
Top speed: More than 300 km/h 

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198)

Unveiled in 1954, the 300 SL production sports car (W 198) was based on the eponymous racing car (W 194) which had posted some spectacular successes in the 1952 season. The innovative petrol injection allowed a 20 per cent increase in output compared with the carburettor racing version. With a top speed of up to 250 km/h, the 300 SL was the fastest series production car of its time. This also predestined the series production sports car for use on the race track. In the 1955 Mille Miglia, John Fitch and co-driver Kurt Gessl finished fifth in the overall classification in a 300 SL with the start number 417. In the same year, Paul O’Shea in a 300 SL was victorious in category D of the US sports car championship, while Werner Engel won the European touring car championship. A total of 1,400 units of the dream sports car were produced between 1954 and 1957. In 1999, the 300 SL “Gullwing” was voted sports car of the century by a panel of journalists.

Technical data
Production period: 1954 to 1957
Cylinders: 6/in-line
Displacement: 2,996 cc
Output: 158 kW (215 hp)
Top speed: Up to 250 km/h 

Mercedes-Benz high-speed racing car transporter

With the “world’s fastest racing car transporter”, Mercedes-Benz also caused a stir away from the race track. Thanks to the high-performance engine from the 300 SL and a modified frame from the 300 S along with doors, headlamps and direction indicators from the “Ponton” 180, the result was a visually and technically unique vehicle that was capable of speeds of up to 170 km/h depending on the payload. Nicknamed “The Blue Wonder”, the one-off vehicle was designed mainly for special missions when, after final tuning or modification, a racing car needed to be brought at speed to the race track or taken back to the factory immediately after a race to make more time for maintenance and repair. In 1967, twelve years after Mercedes-Benz had pulled out of motor sport, the unique vehicle was scrapped. However, just under 30 years later, it was decided to resurrect the one-off vehicle. After seven years of meticulous work by the experts from Mercedes-Benz Classic, the racing car transporter was restored to its full glory in 2001.

Technical data
Period of use: 1955
Cylinders: 6/in-line
Displacement: 2,996 cc
Output: 141 kW (192 hp)
Top speed: 170 km/h


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