Start of the 1954 French Grand Prix

Streamliners – Daimler-Benz Through The Decades

Streamliners – Daimler-Benz Through the Decades – Page Four

The streamliners reappeared at Monza for Fangio and Kling, with Herrmann in a conventional car. Fangio again disappeared into the distance to win, with Herrmann fourth, while Kling crashed when an oil pipe broke and squirted oil in his face as he entered the Lesmo curve. In September there was the Grosser Preis von Berlin, a non-championship round, at the daunting banked Avus circuit. Three streamliners appeared and Fangio, Herrmann and Kling led a fairly small grid. They were much faster than anyone else, though a heroic Jean Behra latched onto the pack, passed Fangio and even held second place for one lap before the poor Gordini gave up. Kling won his only F1 race.

Jean Behra, Gordini, Mercedes-Benz W196
The non-championship 1954 Avusrennen in Berlin. The streamliners fly round the spectacular banking...with Behra’s Gordini desperately hanging on. (Photo: Daimler-Benz)

Stirling Moss joined Fangio, Kling and Herrmann for 1955 and they swept virtually all before them. The streamlined cars only ran at Monza, where Taruffi joined Fangio, Moss and Kling. Mercedes had by this time announced that they were leaving racing. Fangio led Taruffi home, with Castellotti 3rd in a Ferrari and Behra 4th in a streamlined Maserati 250F. This was the last race for the grand prix cars.

The open wheel Mercedes-Benz W196 before the start of the 1955 season.
The open wheel car before the start of the 1955 season. (Photo: Daimler-Benz)
Mercedes-Benz W196, 300SLR
A test session at Unterturkheim early in 1955 with an unidentified driver, possibly Uhlenhaut. (Photo: Daimler-Benz)
Mercedes-Benz 300SLR W196, Juan Manuel Fangio
Fangio wins the final race for the team at Monza in 1955. (Photo: Daimler-Benz)
Mercedes-Benz 300SLR W196, Juan Manuel Fangio takes the flag at Monza in 1955.
Fangio takes the flag at Monza in 1955. (Photo: Daimler-Benz)
An overhead shot of one of the Mercedes-Benz Museum cars.
An overhead shot of one of the Mercedes-Benz Museum cars. (Photo: Daimler-Benz)
Mercedes-Benz 300SLR, W196
A study of the fine lines of the W196. (Photo: Daimler-Benz)

Of course, the lessons that had been learned in the development of the W196R had been successfully applied elsewhere, mainly in the further development of the 300SL but especially in the 300SLR. This car was very much based on the grand prix car and Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson had their historic Mille Miglia victory in a 300SLR. The cars were also dominating the Le Mans 24 Hour before Levegh’s terrible crash forced the cars’ withdrawal, and contributed to the Mercedes-Benz decision to retire from racing and concentrate on production cars. They would, however, return.

Mercedes-Benz 300SLR
Moss and Jenkinson on the way to victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia. (Photo: Daimler-Benz)
Mercedes-Benz 300SLR
Mercedes-Benz 300SLR (Photo: Daimler-Benz)
Mercedes-Benz 300SLR
Mercedes-Benz 300SLR (Photo: Daimler-Benz)

In later years, as aerodynamic knowledge and experience increased, streamlining remained an element in the production of a rapid overall package. The C111 project was an example of Mercedes continuing with their record braking tradition, as were experiments with production cars such as the 190E. However, it would be the streamlined W196R that would remain in the memory of most motorsport fans, especially those who saw those great cars at work.

Mercedes-Benz C111 prototype
One of the C111 prototypes on test...more modern streamlining. (Photo: Daimler-Benz)
Mercedes-Benz 190E, Nardo Track
The 190E making record runs at the Nardo track in 1983. (Photo: Daimler-Benz)

Streamliners – Daimler-Benz Through the Decades Continued

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Show Comments (10)

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  1. Great article and love the Streamliner Replica. I’m amazed you got it through the UK IVA test – it took me 11 months to get my Maserati A6GCS Replica through, with many changes needed.

  2. Ed Great article and history lesson. Although it was not an Alfa, it is the next best thing. Saw the 300SLR # 722 at Pebble Beach last year plus the Blitzen, really beautiful cars. Thanks for the story behind the cars, what a great read!! Al

  3. Truly Awesome, what a magnificent age to be racing these remarkable cars….Have seen a few at Goodwood.
    Excellent article and lovely pictures…

  4. Thanks guys for the comments. It has been a pleasure to be involved in such an interesting project. We made our ‘competition debut’ at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power just two weeks ago where the car was very well received, and where it put on a good show in the postwar Grand Prix class. It will be on show at the Silverstone Classic and will run again at Shelsley Walsh at the end of July as well as at the new Pentillie Fesitval in August.

  5. Ed – what a fantastic article and I really enjoyed your effort to re-create the spirit of the Silver Arrows. And yes the Uhlenhaut Coupe is just about the best shape ever put into sheet metal.

    Somewhere there is a picture of a W196 chassis, complete, with the skin off – this picture gives you a sense of the masterful engineering underneath the “Elektron” bodywork.

    anyway well done!

  6. Dear Ed,

    Great piece and lovely pictures – cannot wait to see you both in the flesh at the Silverstone Classic.

    Thank you again for a wonderful piece,

    Vincent.

  7. I saw this car yesterday at the Pentillie Festval of Speed. What a lovely car, I must confess I was unaware of this recreation, though knew of the originals. Great achievement, MB’s own acceptance of this at their Brooklands facility justifies its creation. The Embericos Bentley tribute, was also at Pentillie, another stunning piece of craftsmanship.

  8. John
    Great you got to see the car at Pentillie. It was a real challenge on that very tight and twisty hill…not what the Streamliner was intended for. I am very flattered to have received the Retro-Speed ‘Man and machines’ Trophy for driving at the event. Ed

  9. My late father Dieter Schmitt ended his career with the factory race team in 1955 at the LeMans race crash. He helped build race engines for the W196R. Great article. Nice to revisit those exciting times for race technology.