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W154 survivors


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#1 Jim Ferron

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Posted 30 August 2006 - 18:57

I'm starting a quest. I'm 66, and my all-time favorite car since I was 13 has been the W154. I still have the Clymer books I got in 1953!

I am trying to update the status of the surviving W154's. I'm contemplating a comprehensive book about these cars (1938 and 1939), and about the amazing fact that nine of these have survived for 67 years!

I recently learned that The Collier Collection has obtained chassis #15 as a permanent part of their collection. I have been in contact with them and MAY be allowed to photograph the car sometime next year (for a price), after it has been refurbished. I don't know yet where they got that one.

The most recent info I have regarding disposition is mostly based on Don Capps' postings here (2001, tentative), and I'm sure things may have changed a lot since then.

I have photos of a car that was for sale by Symbolic Motor Cars in CA in 2003 ... then on loan for a while to the Petersen Museum. To me (as a designer) it has the most authentic as-raced-in-1939 nose shape of ANY survivor I've ever seen (I believe there are eight 1939 cars, and one 1938, surviving). The owner of Symbolic told me it was restored by THE FACTORY, and Symbolic sold it to a collector who shall forever remain anonymous, I believe in Romania (Joska Roman? ... Is he an authorized W154 dealer??) . I haven't yet been able to track down the chassis # of that one ... or where it came from before it got to the factory to be restored, etc.

I was never able to find a photo of either Mulhouse car until the one with the "funny" front suspension surfaced at Goodwood this year. Does anyone know anything about their second car?

Number 8 is a quandary, as it was supposedly lost in Poland. I bet it's in an old barn ... or maybe under a haystack!! Wouldn't that be a find!

Ownership of some of these seems to be very secretive; any help with my espionage would be greatly appreciated.

Jim Ferron
Loudon, Tennessee


Wagen 6: Poland, MNA Mulhouse
Wagen 7: Romania, USA California (Arturo Keller collection) (is this the Symbolic/Petersen car?)
Wagen 9: Don Lee, Neil Corner, Czechoslovakia, Germany
Wagen 10: Czechoslovakia, Prague (Technical Museum)
Wagen 11, Works MB Stuttgart, Museum Mercedes-Benz Stuttgart
Wagen 12: Berlin, Museum Mercedes-Benz Stuttgart (the ONLY one with 1938 Bodywork; Is this no longer at the Deutsches Museum?)
Wagen 14: Works MB Stuttgart, Museum Mercedes-Benz Stuttgart
Wagen 15: Romania, Germany (private collection)
Wagen 16: Berlin, MNA Mulhouse

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#2 Doug Nye

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Posted 30 August 2006 - 20:52

The Collier chassis 15 is the same car once offered for sale by Symbolic. It is one of the pair which Joska Roman found and adopted in Rumania at the end of the Second World War. It was acquired from Roman's son by a Swiss-domiciled dental equipment magnate named Bilturescu, who had it restored by Koeng in Switzerland with input from the Mercedes-Benz 'Oldtimer Centre' in Stuttgart and a little bit of UK help too...

DCN

#3 Gary C

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Posted 30 August 2006 - 20:55

and what a great TV programme THAT was !! Terry Cohn et al...

#4 fivestar

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Posted 30 August 2006 - 23:27

Since someone has opened up a W154 thread, can someone finally put to rest the question whether Wagen 9, was acquired by Rowland motors before being sold to Don lee, via a swap for a pre war Alta or whether the Alta "swap" was a cover up for money having changed hands?
Any views Doug??

#5 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 06:53

Joel Finn had Wagen 7 at Monterey in 1986

Vince Howlett, Victoria, B.C., Canada

#6 tam999

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 12:32

I remember watching the startup procedure for the Finn car at the Monterey Historics in 1986. I forget the exact details but the crew wore gas masks & the process involved preheating either the oil or the coolant or both. Once on track the car didn't last long, bearing failure IIRC.

tam999

#7 m9a3r5i7o2n

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 14:30

Quote- Once on track the car didn't last long, bearing failure IIRC.
tam999

If I remember correctly the cars had Ball or Roller bearing instead of inserted bearing! Not a good choice in any event. Keeping an engine together with ball bearing is not a job for amateurs or even for amateurs without a lot of high priced engineers standing looking over their shoulders in any event. One might study the engines in the later German tank engines made by Maybach as an example.

M.L. Anderson :D

#8 dbw

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 19:54

ot...except for the camshaft the t35 bugatti is all ball and roller bearings [full and split cage]....a rather good choice for a racing engine of the period..[think delage]..porsche kept roller cranks well into the 60's...i seem to remember hirth supplied a lot of very precise units with spline alignment...bugatti used a rather crude cotter system but it did win them a lot of races.... they work well at high crank speeds with a low pressure oiling system. :wave:

oh...motorcycles too.

#9 gmw

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 22:54

Jim.

I ran into a book last year that has a lot of useful information on the W154, including a list of where the different cars are now. The list is close to your list. The book is:

Mercedes- Benz Grand Prix Cars 1934-1955
By Louis Sugahara
Mercedes-Benz Classique Car Library (www.classiquecarlibrary.com)
2004
ISBN 1-933123-00
Originally published in Japanese 1997

The book includes a large number of line drawings showing the bodywork configuration of individual cars at specific races. The text includes quite a bit of information on the different GP cars that was new for me, and I have been following the details of the W154 for a number of years.

He mentions the heating of the oil, seen on the Joel Finn car at Monterey. The engine had a very low volume of crankcase capacity to reduce the frontal area of the engine and hence the frontal area of the car. This resulted in overheating of the oil. To keep the oil viscosity at reasonable levels with the engine running at racing speeds the oil was as thick as grease at room temperature. Every night the oil was drained from the engine and put in an oven overnight. The oil was put back in the engine and the engine warmed up with hot plugs. The cold plugs were put in the warmed up engine before the race.

All Mercedes race engines from the 1920's through 1955 had roller bearings, both crank and rod bearings. In the prewar period the roller bearings had split races and cages. The post war W196 and 300 SLR used built up cranks with the Hirth system and one piece cages and races. Most if not all of the Daimler-Benz aircraft engine in WW 2 used roller rod bearings with split cages and rods. In both race cars and aircraft the roller bearing were used because oil and bearing technology at the time was limited and the roller bearings could handle the high bearing loads better than the plain bearings available at the time. The Vandervell bearings were developed for the Merlin.

GMW

#10 Jim Ferron

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 14:54

I haven't actually seen the book by Sugahara: I've viewed links to some fairly crude drawings of the fronts & sides of various 1938 cars which excluded some of the early ones.

The one that intrigues me is the photo I had NEVER seen before ... on page 212 of Karl's magnificent Quicksilver Century ... with a grille opening much like a W125 (much narrower than the oft-published March/Monza/Uhlenhaut test car).

Can anyone post a photo of the Thorne car? I have never been able to view the one posted here a few years ago.

The Collier Museum has asked me to forward any info I can round up regarding current disposition of these cars. I'd greatly appreciate it if anyone with real knowledge about this might assist me.

I'll post the most recent list I've come up with in a few days.

Thanks to all!!!!!!!

Jim Ferron
Loudon, TN
USA

#11 Jim Ferron

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 15:35

I had forgotten that Dick Merritt put together the pieces of the Don Lee car. Is Dick still around? ... he could tell some stories.

Connected with Merritt ... I worked with Warren Fitzgerald at GM Styling. He let me drive the only Ferrari I've ever driven (or am likely to!) ... a SWB Tour d'France, around the Tech Center, probably in 2nd gear. He talked Mitchell into letting him buy it in Europe so he could drive it.

Does anybody recall the item I saw in R&T (LONG time ago) about John Bond having acquired the original nose for the W154 and then donating it to the restoration project?

Ain't the Internet beautiful!!!

Jim

#12 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 20:53

Doug posted this picture of the Thorne car in the Geoff Goddard thread:

Posted Image

© Grand Prix Library

#13 Jim Ferron

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 04:37

Thanks!

It's even worse than I feared!

Jim

#14 gmw

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 03:09

Jim,

Sugahara includes another photo of this W154 prototype. He credits the photo to The Autocar.
March,1938.

#15 autodrome

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 13:37

Very late to the party here chaps...

Wagen 10 is still sat in the Technical Museum largely unrestored and in really quite poor condition - there is a picture of it in Autodrome.

#16 jcbc3

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 14:20

Originally posted by autodrome
Very late to the party here chaps...

Wagen 10 is still sat in the Technical Museum largely unrestored and in really quite poor condition - there is a picture of it in Autodrome.


This one?

#17 Gary C

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 18:09

that's a very, very, very small photograph!!

#18 jcbc3

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 18:50

lol - yes. But my question was if it was the correct Technical Museum.

#19 autodrome

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 21:57

Thats the fellow - museum is well worth a visit

Just read the bit about only 1/3rd of the cars they have being on show - next time I'm over there I'll arrange to visit and photograph the other 2/3rds - is suggests they rotate them but I've been going there for more than 10 years and none of the cars has moved (or shown any sign of being maintained for that matter)

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#20 jcbc3

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 22:06

In fact they say on that page, that they are closed until further notice. But it does look interesting, so I was looking for some information on when they might open again, but didn't succeed in finding out.

#21 autodrome

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 22:29

If you can find a Czech speaker call them and you can probably arrange a visit to the full collection

Not suprised it being rebuilt - its a bugger to find, and really really communist in its design - it had also been basically abandoned for years - no changes and seemingly no improvements or repais in a decade - matbe since the revolution

#22 Egor

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 07:10

Posted ImagePosted Image

Fuel Tank

Edited by Egor, 02 November 2011 - 07:14.