There’s no unanimous agreement on the definition of ‘streamlining’, but you know it when you see it. The practice of making vehicles as aerodynamic as possible was as much art as science in the days before wind tunnel testing, and it resulted in some truly beautiful shapes. It started with locomotives and moved on to cars and planes.
One of the best looking of them all was the Mercedes-Benz W196 Streamliner which, somewhat controversially, joined the Grand Prix grid (the domain, usually, of open-wheeled cars) during 1954 and ’55. This rebodied version of the open-wheeled W196 was just part of Mercedes’ domination of Grand Prix racing at the time; both versions of the car were consistently front-running, especially with Sir Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio at the wheel.
The Streamliner is just one of the very many Mercedes-Benz racing cars taking to the Goodwood hill during this year’s Festival of Speed. Between runs, it will be drawing crowds in the Formula One paddock.
Photography: Richard Pardon