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Mercedes GP car in Australia 1910


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#1 humphries

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 12:42

Whilst looking through my 1910 files I noticed a photograph from The Autocar of a 1907 or 1908 GP Mercedes (I think) that had been imported into Australia by one Colin Smith, of Sydney, who is described as being one of Australia's first millionaires. The caption stated that the very powerful car had proved unsuitable for Australian roads and was having to be practically rebuilt. No mention was made whether it was staying in Australia or being returned to Europe. The photograph was taken in front of some garage doors that appear to have B & R Motor C... writ large upon them. The car looks immaculate so the photograph was probably taken before encountering the Australian roads.

Any knowledge of car or owner or present whereabouts?

John

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#2 john medley

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 20:16

"The Motor in Australia" April 1910 published what is probably the same photograph with an article headed"150 Horse Power. Largest Car Ever Brought To Australia". The car was imported by the B&R Motor Company for the young Lebbeus Hordern, of the Sydney retail family, but sold almost immediately to Colin Smith. Percy Cornwall owned the car in the 1920s, and Lyndon Duckett from the 1940s until sold to the USA.

Thought to have been originally a GP car, it was modified for the 1909 Semmering Hillclimb where, allegedly driven by Salzer, it won.

Famous in Australia in the immediate post WW2 period as the Semmering Mercedes, it can be often sighted in books and magazines of that period.

#3 eldougo

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 09:05

:wave:

Thanks John for the history lession,It's good to learn new thing everyday.

#4 humphries

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 10:35

John

Thanks for the information. I checked through contemporary reports and there was a photo of Salzer in the winning Mercedes in "The Motor", 28th September 1909. It looks like the Smith car but it is stripped for action and minus the mudguards. The car was owned by Theodore Dreyer, who was the "Beer king" of Vienna, and because his cars had twice previously won at Semmering he was allowed to keep the trophy on offer. However it appears that the car was specially built for purchase by the public (the millionaires' section) and not a converted GP car but I'm sure we have Mercedes experts here at TNF who can put me right.

A little more brain picking if I may? What is the relationship between the wonderfully named Lebbeus Hordern and that of Sam Hordern (he with the trophy named after him that was competed for at Warwick Farm)?

Also Colin Smith who, if it is he seated in the car in the Australia photo, looks to have been fairly young to be a millionaire; any information on him?

Finally did the Smith Mercedes do any races, hillclimbs or sprints in Australia?


John

#5 robert dick

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 11:05

As far as I know the Mercedes shipped to Australia was a 17.3-liter sprint racer with the bore/stroke dimensions of 175/180 mm, output 170 hp at 1400 rpm. The frame was similar, nearly identical to the 1908 Grand Prix frame, wheelbase 270 cm.
The 1908 Grand Prix engines displaced either 12.8 or 13.6 liters, with the dimensions of 155/170 or 155/180 mm. In the French Grand Prix, Lautenschlager used 155/170, Salzer and Poege 155/180 mm.
In the late summer of 1908, a first 17.3-liter was mounted in Poege's Grand Prix frame. In the spring of 1909, two additional 17.3-liters were delivered to Jenatzy and Pilette, and a fourth car was built for Salzer.
On September 19, 1909, Salzer won the Semmering hillclimb in 7 min 7 sec. That the car for Australia was the ex-Salzer racer is not sure - maybe promotion.

In July of 1910, at Ostend, Jenatzy covered a flying kilometer at 212.95 km/h. This car was sold to America, to Ernie Moross' Moross Amusement Co.
Louis Disbrow, Bob Burman and Lee Oldfield (a young driver from Lone Tree, Kansas - no connection to Barney Oldfield) drove the car in dirt track meets.

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 11:59

I can't speak with any authority on the subject, but there was undoubtedly some link between the Horderns... it's not, after all, a name like Colin's...

And Sam Hordern was ranking highly in the Australian Jockey Club when he became instrumental in helping to build Warwick Farm. That's a bit of society you don't get into without some family or money in the background at least.

As for the car, I'm sure there's a Shepherd drawing of it somewhere...

#7 john medley

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 00:42

The bore/stroke in article previously mentioned were said to be 175/200.
It's not easy to identify which Mercedes was which after all this time, but Colin Smith made fastest time Feb 4th 1911 at a hillclimb in Sydney's National Park, and Percy Cornwall allegedly used this car in sprints etc in Victoria just before WW1. It appears that Cornwall owned it and poor old Rupert Jeffkins drove it at Aspendale pre WW1.
In the Victorian State Library there are pics by photographer Algernon Darge which I believe are of this car.
After his mammoth rebuild of the car 1942 - 1947, Lyndon Duckett ran it at Rob Roy Hill climb, did 33 secs - a remarkable time.
Good photos = good article " The Day We Started the Semmering" in Victorian Vintage Sports Car Club History "Racers and Rascals"
There were several Lebbeus and Samuel Horderns over different generations. Our man was more into planes than cars, was a playboy of some note, and suicided in his 30s. Samuel of Warwick Farm note was I think the next generation

#8 terry mcgrath

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Posted 26 September 2009 - 02:48

Is there any further early history available on this interesting car and any history after it went to the USA.
Does anyone have further details or a photo of Jeffkins running it at Aspendale
regards terry

#9 terry mcgrath

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 12:07

There must be some input on 1910 GP Semmerling Mercedes one they didn't build a lot secondly their to big to miss!!!

Edited by terry mcgrath, 29 September 2009 - 15:57.


#10 Ivan Saxton

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 15:29

The bore/stroke in article previously mentioned were said to be 175/200.
It's not easy to identify which Mercedes was which after all this time, but Colin Smith made fastest time Feb 4th 1911 at a hillclimb in Sydney's National Park, and Percy Cornwall allegedly used this car in sprints etc in Victoria just before WW1. It appears that Cornwall owned it and poor old Rupert Jeffkins drove it at Aspendale pre WW1.
In the Victorian State Library there are pics by photographer Algernon Darge which I believe are of this car.
After his mammoth rebuild of the car 1942 - 1947, Lyndon Duckett ran it at Rob Roy Hill climb, did 33 secs - a remarkable time.
Good photos = good article " The Day We Started the Semmering" in Victorian Vintage Sports Car Club History "Racers and Rascals"
There were several Lebbeus and Samuel Horderns over different generations. Our man was more into planes than cars, was a playboy of some note, and suicided in his 30s. Samuel of Warwick Farm note was I think the next generation


This seems to indicate that there may have been two of them out here, John. And Jim Everett told me that there was a second one that lived in the NSW Riverina somewhere, and that he had seen occasionally in Melbourne around the Victoria Market area. He was familiar with the Lyndon Duckett car. Another notable early racing car that was in Syndey for many years was Cagno, Itala from the 1907 Coppa Florio from memory. It eventually went to USA via Adelaide. Another car that ran in events in South Australia until it went the same way was a huge six cylider opposed piston engine engine Gobron Brillie, supposedly imported by a senior government identity in S.A. I was told that the waterside workers had some dislike for the owner and determined to punish him, but made a blunder and dropped the wrong car into the Torrens.
There was a lot of wealth from gold here, particularly in Victoria 150-100 years ago, and linked to the great value of wool; so it is not surprising that there was a sprinkle of fabulous big early cars around. One of the great Merino sheep families had big Napiers, including a 90. Arthur Lang and I went to the property the Napier was reputed to have lived; but all we could find was a stripped RR Silver Ghost chassis frame about 1914. Gavin Bain in NZ built his Silver Ghost on that.

#11 john medley

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 21:05

Nice to see you here again, Ivan.

I once had a photo of that Itala,taken by and given to me by David Manson, the car then located on Sydney's North Shore and owned(perhaps) by a gentleman named O'Reilly.

Of these and other preWW1 monsters, David is (still)very knowledgeable. If he sees this, I encourage him to add some more to this discussion

#12 Ivan Saxton

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 23:47

Nice to see you here again, Ivan.

I once had a photo of that Itala,taken by and given to me by David Manson, the car then located on Sydney's North Shore and owned(perhaps) by a gentleman named O'Reilly.

Of these and other preWW1 monsters, David is (still)very knowledgeable. If he sees this, I encourage him to add some more to this discussion

I am glad to know that David is still vertical and roadworthy John. The only time I actually met him was about first or second day of the 1970 International Rally. Ithink he had a little English car like an Alvis or similar; but I never committed it to memory at the time beyond that. David several years before gave me details of the whereabouts of my first Mercer. It turned out that there had been a second Mercer Six previously there , complete and in much better condition than the one I got. Dick Birt said that a woman turned up one day and paid him money off a roll of notes for it; but he had no idea who it was or where it went. It must be still hidden somewhere, because it cannot be identified among the known Mercer Sixes here or overseas. Let us hope no-one ignorant stumbles onto it and just drives it, because those OHV Rochester Trego engines had conrods that could break at the little end and cut the engine in two. The cars themselves were otherwise excellent, and could do half an hour in twenty minutes. Try to make time to get across next time you are down for Phillip Island.

#13 Damien Duigan

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 00:22

G'day all,

I've read somewhere the Semmering Mercedes is now in the Indy Museum - must get there one day to verify.

Didn't a similar car (used by Jenatzy at Ostend in July 1910) end up dirt track racing in the States with Louis Disbrow, Bob Burman, Lee Oldfield and others?

Cheers,
Damien

#14 austmcreg

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 12:05

Anyone with an interest in the Semmering Mercedes during its Australian life my be interested in the e-magazine 'Serpolette's Tricycle', published by my friend Leon Mitchell (lot of other interesting early Australian and New Zealand stuff as well), which has an interesting article on the car and its Australian owners.

The second edition can be downloaded free from the following website:

http://earlymotor.com/

Feel free to pass the magazine around and ask Leon to put you on the distribution list if you like it.

Rob Saward

Edited by austmcreg, 27 June 2012 - 12:06.