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Racing the Silver Arrows by Chris Nixon
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Mercedes W163
  Car:   Mercedes W163   Engine:   600 V12
  Maker:   Mercedes   Bore X Stroke:   67 X 70 mm
  Year:   1939   Capacity:   2,962 cc
  Class:   Grand Prix   Power:   484 bhp at 7,500 rpm
  Wheelbase:   272.415 cm   Track:   147.32 cm front, 139.7 cm rear

Tires: 5.50 x 19 front, 7.00 x 19 rear. Mercury filled exhaust valves; 4 per cylinder with 2 stage supercharging.

Mercedes W163There is some question as to  whether the W163 can even be called a separate model from the W154 since the 163 actually refers to the new M163 engine which was also used on the W154 for the 1938 season. That engine was fueled by a witch's brew of 86% methyl alcohol, with nitro-benzine, acetone and sulphuric ether mixed in giving the engine a whopping 2 mpg. Their rival literally had to "eat their fumes". 105 gallons were carried in two tanks, one in the tail and the other under the driver's seat. As the fuel emptied the driver would use a lever to compensate for the changing weight distribution.

What was also apparent to everyone in the 1939 car was its new bodywork. The Duralumin shell presented a low, wide shark-like nose tapering to a more compact tail forming a tight skin over the engine. Total weight was 150 lbs. less than last years car while the new two-stage supercharged M163 engine would produce approximately 480 bhp. Porsche had shown that two-stage supercharging would reduce mechanical losses compared to single-stage supercharging. Fuel injection was tried to mixed results. New re-designed drum brakes with angled "turbo" vanes which exhausted heated air from within were also employed. In typically thorough German testing it was found that at 1600 rpm or about 155 mph each drum absorbed .5 hp. In testing Instead of water ethylene glycol was used for cooling with the radiator angled forward. The car was an immediate success against their German rivals Auto Union with Hermann Lang winning that year's championship which was cut short do to the onset of hostilities.

Mercedes W163

After the war a team of 3 cars were dispatched to Argentina for the President Peron and Eva Peron Cups but were beaten by a smaller, more agile privately entered Ferrari. Missing from the Mercedes team was the great pre-war driver Rudolf Caracciola who sensed, rightfully that the cars would be no match on the twisty local tracks of Argentina. Understandably Herman Lang who had his best years robbed by the war was desperate to revive his career but time had passed even the great Silver Arrows.

Mercedes-Benz W163Mercedes-Benz W163Mercedes-Benz W163Mercedes-Benz W163Mercedes-Benz W163

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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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