1954 Mercedes-Benz transporter (1954-1955) “Blue Wonder”
Premium Classixxs - B66040569 (diecast)
With Mercedes-Benz’ comeback to racing after World War II, the need for a race car transporter in the molds of the pre-War LO 2750 became apparent. The Mercedes-Benz Rennabteilung (“Mercedes-Benz Racing Department”) wanted something reliable that was fast, and the later demand basically ruled out all of the brand’s current trucks. So under the supervision of Rudolf Uhlenhaut, a new transporter would be designed by a joint engineering effort between different teams. To keep upper management from complaining, Uhlenhaut tried to keep costs reasonable, so the team needed to work only with existing parts. With those goals in mind in early 1954 the team started working on the project, and by mid-1954 the new Renntransporter was ready. Fast and with dashing looks, it soon became known as the Blue Wonder.
The Blue Wonder came out as a potpourri of parts and styles. Most interior fittings for the cabin, for instance, came from the Mercedes-Benz Typ 180, while the chassis was the x-shaped tubular frame from a Typ 300, but extended so that a racing car could fit on the bed. A Mercedes 300 SL “Gullwing” donated the engine, installed right on top of the front axle. It was a water-cooled inline-6 displacing 2998 cm³ and with direct fuel injection, connected to a synchronized four speed manual transmission.
With a brawny engine like that and since the truck unloaded only weighed 1865 kg, the 192 hp delivered by the 300 SL’s engine was enough to take it up to 170 km/h. To stop all that mass the Renntransporter counted on an hydraulic drum brake system on all wheels and a pneumatic brake booster from Bosch.
When the truck was ready, the 1954 racing season was in full swing, and it was mainly used when a race car needed to be transported in a FAST manner, like getting the car as fast as possible back to the track after some last-minute adjustments or to bring a damaged car to the garage in order to cut down on the repair time. But it’s sui generis looks also guaranteed a lot of interest. To the point that at one time it even disputed newspaper headlines with the racing cars it should haul around.
But then the 1955 Le Mans tragedy happened, and Mercedes-Benz pulled out from motor racing. No more races meant that no race cars needed carrying around, so the Blue Wonder was out of the job as a Renntransporter. However, with all the press it generated, it stayed on Mercedes’ duty roster as a show car. It even went to the US at the end of 1955 to feature in a number of car shows.
With all that fame, Mercedes decided to keep it as a museum piece. So it retired as a permanent exhibition at the manufacturer’s old museum in Stuttgart. The idea was to show it off with a 300 SLR on top. Unfortunately, the combined weight of the two vehicles exceeded the load-bearing capacity of the building’s floor. With that, Mercedes scrapped the project. In the subsequent years it served in road-testing of prototype cars, but very infrequently. Without a job and without a home, in December 1967 the truck went to the scrap yard. Unceremoniously, the world’s fastest race car transporter became spare parts. Fortunately in 1993 Mercedes-Benz Classics decided to rebuild it. Since none of the original plans survived, they based their work exclusively on vintage photos and old information. But after almost 6000 hours of work in a total of seven years, the Blue Wonder lived again.
I had this truck in my 1:18 days, and it was one of my favorite pieces. Last year when I decided to start adding Silberpfeile to the 1:43 collection (or maybe even before that?) I was fully aware that I would have to get one for the Garage. It’s definitively a grail model for me, and I finally got one now. The only thing that bothers me is that the support struts for the ramps are glued over the spare tires. I’m under the impression that they should be removable to use under the ramps… Even so, it’s another “good & honest” model from Premium Classixxs, with a very nice detail level.
Fine model and all, however historically speaking I can’t display one of the original Silver Arrows on the back. That means I need another W196. Or a 300 SLR, perhaps?
See? It never ends. This hobby is a bottomless pit.