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The Mercedes-Benz W196

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Mercedes-Benz W196

The Mercedes-Benz W196

William Jason
SubmitYOURArticle.com
March 25, 2011

Like the people who drive them, cars too can become legends. Some even end up being more famous than people, especially makes that have made a definite mark in the swift history of automobiles. Such a vehicle would be the Mercedes-Benz W196. Introduced into the automobile racing circuit at the 1954 French Grand Prix, this post-World War II vehicle was considered by its German car manufacturers Daimler-Benz to be part of the "creme de la creme" of vehicles.

Introduction of the Mercedes-Benz W196

The W197 entered the French Grand Prix at Reims to triumph on first and second place, with both drivers Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl King scoring double victories with the vehicle. Argentinean Fangio went on to dominate again with the W196 in the 1995 World Grand Prix, which has only been done by a few car makes at that time. This was one of the vehicles that also took home major prices in the racing circuits in 1955. After the 1955 Le Mans disaster where another Mercedes-Benz vehicle flew into the watching crowd and killed 83 spectators plus the driver, Pierre Levegh, it went on to win all the 1955 Formula one trophies except the Monaco Grand Prix.

How does a Mercedes-Benz W196 look?

Hard to look at but intimidating to touch, the aerodynamic appearance of the W196 resembles a silver bat shooting out like a bullet. Like most modern car designs of today, it features sinuous lines that lend to an organic feel. However the color is meant to mean business. As a race car, it was meant to house only one person, which is a pity, especially if anyone wanted such a car to impress someone they're dating.

Specs of the Mercedes-Benz W196

The design of the W916 was considered completely different from the Grand Prix cars that were used for racing during that era. People then have wondered why the W196 sported a small front for a snout. It was because it had a tilted-at-37-degrees straight 8 cylinder engine inside that would not have fit if it was installed normally.

The employment of a desmodromic valve operating system was also one of the first feats that the W196 introduced to the world of automobiles. There were no valve springs that were used to operate the valve system, which prevented fluttering and gave way for the car to eat in massive rpm. The engines elasticity was also improved by the positioning of the gears' crankshaft in the middle of the fourth and fifth cylinder.

The W196 model was also the first car to ever employ the use of fuel injections. These occur when the fuel of the car is mixed with air in the internal combustion engine. This would result in an increase in power output and fuel efficiency, and would aid in good driveability and smooth operation of the vehicle.

Even after a good history in the racing circuit, Mercedes-Benz pulled out from competitions. And even with the glorious specifications that the W196 has in store, its famous drivers Fangio and Moss have still remarked that the car is a bit difficult to drive, with a tendency for snap oversteer.

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William Jason is an avid muscle car collector. You can view his personal blog at: http://musclecarmonster.com

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