Mercedes-Benz has practically created a show within a show at Techno Classica, housing a selection of its very finest high speed works, chief amongst which must surely be the ex-Sir Stirling Moss 300SLR with the legendary ‘722‘ emblazoned on its nose and sides.
The car, which is almost as famous for the account of it’s 1955 Mille Miglia exploits as written by co-driver Denis Jenkinson as it is for being driven by the Boy Wonder, exudes an aura as two bystanders discuss whether or not it would (theoretically) be the most expensive car on the planet if it were to come up for sale. Few historic racers rank with the 300SLR when it comes to legendary status, but our attention was grabbed by something somewhat less-known, but no-less fascinating.
The low-slung Mercedes-Benz C111-III is just incredible. Fitted with a turbocharged five cylinder motor which gave a very impressive 230bhp, it managed to cover 1000 kilometres at an astonishing average speed of 319kmh (that’s near-as-dammit 200mph) and hit a maximum of 327kph. The drag coefficient was another staggering feat; 0.183, which helped the car to set a raft of endurance records. But aside from all of it’s technical prowess and record-breaking capability, how cool does it look? It’s early days here in Essen, but right now this is the leading candidate to be our favourite car of the show.
Not far from the C111-III is the slippery-looking W25 Rekordwagen. Its unique bodywork was fitted to a standard W25 frame and it is apparently the first car ever to be fully-fared; both the body and the underside. Power came courtesy of a 5.6-litre V12 which produced… wait for it … 616bhp. Just in case your jaw hasn’t hit the floor yet, bear in mind that the car weighed just over 1000 kilos, giving a power to weight ratio of just under 600bhp per ton. If you’re still somehow unimpressed, how about the fact that this machine hit a measured 268mph on a (closed) public road on January 28th 1938, which is still a record speed on a public road in 2015 …
We were still grappling with the Rekordwagen’s staggering numbers when we turned to our right and spotted the W196R Streamliner we were treated to at last Year’s Festival of Speed with its gorgeous Monza bodywork. This is of course the kind of car that Fangio and Kling took to a famous one-two in the first ever Formula One race at Reims in 1954. Nearby was the 540K Streamliner we saw close-up at Retromobile, a fearsome E500 saloon and the chain-driven ‘Blitzen Benz’ which held the land speed record from 1911 until 1919.
Any self-respecting petrolhead could easily spend a full day gazing at the cars Mercedes-Benz have brought along to Techno Classica, but alas we barely had time enough to fawn over each for a few exquisite, mesmerising minutes before something else caught our eye and we were forced to move on.
Did we mention at all that Techno Classica is almost unbelievably huge? Stay tuned and we’ll bring you more …
Photography: Tom Shaxson