Mercedes-Benz (Daimler-Benz A-G, Unterturkheim, Stuttgart)
Competitive years: 1939
Horsepower Range: 246
Color images by Jonathan Sharp
They came, they saw, they conquered, then left, never again to use their victorious voiturettes that were created solely to disappoint their Italian rivals.
If, as some felt, Mercedes Benz (and Auto Union) had ruined the Grand Prix by dominating races with their superb and technologically advanced racing cars, clearly, they could also do the same in the increasingly popular voiturette racing class – ironically popular in large part because of the lack of German racing cars. But they couldn’t very well help themselves, could they, particularly when the organizers of the Tripoli Grand Prix announced that the 1939 event would be run for the voiturette formula of 1500cc rather than the standard 3 liter Grand Prix formula.
In six months, the Benz engineers, Wagner and Heess under Max Sailer secretly constructed a supercharged DOHC V8 with 246 hp and a weight of only 1582 lbs. They built two of these W165 voiturettes; one for first and one for second, which is how they placed. The Italians didn’t stand a chance. It was a grandstand show of Teutonic superiority in the shadows of war. After the race, the cars were put away, and never run again in anger.