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Mercedes W125
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Racing the Silver Arrows by Chris Nixon
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Mercedes W 125


 
  Car:   Mercedes W125   Engine:   8-Cylinder In-line Supercharged
  Maker:   Daimler-Benz   Bore X Stroke:   94 X 102 mm
  Year:   1937   Capacity:   5,660 CC
  Class:   Grand Prix   Power:   646 bhp at 5,800 rpm
  Wheelbase:   110.2   Track:   58.0 in front, 55.6 in rear
  Notes:   Weight 1836 lbs, 5.25 front and 7.00 x 19 rear tires


 
Mercedes W125
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1936 belonged to Auto Union and especially their brilliant young driver Bernd Rosemeyer. The Mercedes W25 was showing its age and Mercedes decided to temporarily withdraw from competition to reorganize their racing department. Rudolf Uhlenhaut was appointed Technical Director of the Rennabteilung, or racing department that would work between the Design Office and the Team Manager, Alfred Neubauer. Uhlenhaut was 30 years old at the time and decided that the only way for him to fully understand the problems with the Grand Prix Cars was to drive them himself. Soon he was lapping the Nurburgring at times just below the drivers. Grand Prix racing was different in those day as the cars were tested and re-tested constantly prior to the race meeting.
Once the cars arrived at the race meeting they were rarely changed and the weekend was used to familiarize the drivers with the track and local conditions. Uhlenhaut would be in charge of all racing development until they came to the track where Neubauer would handle race strategy. The most successful partnership in the history of motor racing had begun.

While testing the W25 Uhlenhaut found the chassis too week and the springs to stiff! There was very little movement of the axle against the frame. On one occasion he lost a rear wheel on the straight at top speed. The car continued on as if nothing happened! He would later remark that "it was like driving a motorcycle with a sidecar!"  The new car for the 1937 season would be based on the lessons learned during this test period.

The W125 is considered a development of the W25 and so it should but the changes that Uhlenhaut made had a profound effect. The suspension was completely redesigned with the idea of providing softer front suspension than at the rear while keeping the driving wheels upright and at right angles to the road. The supercharger was modified to suck air through the carburetor rather than push the air. The old system was called the Druckvergasermotor or pressure-carburetor engine while the new system was called the Saugvergasermotor or suction-carburetor engine. Capacity was also increased to 5.66 liters. 

 
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Mercedes W125

Intense testing of the car took place at Monza due to bad weather back in Germany. The car was driven for nearly 1,500 miles without any serious problems. From there the car won its first race with Lang driving. For the Avusrennen a mix of cars were entered and Lang again won but the season went to Caracciola and with it another European Championship.


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GEORGE MONKHOUSE was one of the world's greatest motor racing photographers, and his books Motoraces, Motor Racing with Mercedes-Benz and Grand Prix Motor Racing Facts and Figures (1950), are regarded as the principal records of a golden age in motor racing in the 1930s and the immediate post-war era.

Monkhouse was a senior executive of the Kodak company, later their chief engineer in the United Kingdom. He dealt with grand prix, not any other lesser sort of racing, and with Mercedes, not with any lesser make. His views were forthright but were not universally popular in British motor racing circles in the mid-1930s.

He and his friends Dick Seaman and Laurence Pomeroy Jnr saw how it was done by Mercedes and they looked for a similar attitude from the British teams. At that time there was indeed a great gulf between the predominantly amateur albeit well-heeled British teams and the professional, government-backed German racing.

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