Earlier racing cars include the 1924 Targa Floria-winning Mercedes driven by Christian Werner, examples of the 115 hp Mercedes that finished 1-2-3 in the 1914 French Grand Prix and the Mercedes 140 hp Grand Prix car developed by Paul Daimler that won the 1908 French Grand Prix.
The white 1909 Blitzen Benz—bullet-shaped at both ends—represents the six cars built with 21.5-liter, four-cylinder engines enlarged from Mercedes’ Grand Prix cars for the purpose of setting records. Frenchman Victor Hémery set a record of 126 mph (200+ km/hr) at the Brooklands track in England in 1909 with the first Blitzen Benz.
At least one of the Blitzen Benz also raced in America, where first Barney Oldfield (131.72 mph in 1910) and then Bob Burman (140.87 mph in 1911) set Land Speed Records at Ormond Beach in Florida.
One more surprise still waits as visitors complete a tour of the early racing cars on exhibit.
Before descending the escalator to the exit hall, the visitor suddenly comes face to face with the enormous, silver Mercedes-Benz T80 record car—a piece of Mercedes-Benz history most have never heard of, or knew existed.
Both Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union set a series of speed records on German autobahns in the 1930s, while British and American teams took the Land Speed Record to 200 mph, 300 mph and nearly 400 mph with aero-engine specials at Daytona Beach and Bonneville in Utah.
The Mercedes-Benz T80 was the result of Grand Prix driver Hans Stuck’s desire to take the absolute Land Speed Record for Germany in a German-built car. The T80 was designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche and utilized a Daimler-Benz DB 603 V-12 aircraft engine tuned for over 3,000 hp. The T80 is 27 feet long and weighs nearly three tons.
Any attempt on the record was prevented by the outbreak of WWII.
As one of the last objects seen as visitors depart from the modern museum, which opened in 2006, the sight of the T80 suspended from the wall is symbolic of Mercedes-Benz bold history.
Mercedes-Benz Museum Information
The Mercedes-Benz Museum is located on the campus of Daimler AG company headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. The facility is open daily from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm. Ticket prices are 8 Euros for adults and free for children under age 15. Parking facilities are provided in the museum’s car park, although visitors arriving via a classic car may park directly in front of the main entrance of the museum.