1938 Mercedes-Benz W125 Stromlinie Pilot: Rudolf Caracciola Team: Mercedes-Benz Race: 1938 land speed record attempt Minichamps - 400383800 (diecast)
One can say that the motorization of Germany began on January 30th, 1933. That day Adolf Hitler became Germany’s Chancellor. Just a few days later, at the Berlin Auto show, he presented his plan on how to do that. Among other things, tax reduction for car purchases, consolidation of the Autobahn network and abolishment of mandatory driver tuition. Ironically, the Autobahn was a Weimar government project. Also, he wanted to promote motorsports. First Mercedes-Benz, and later Auto Union too, received a hefty government grant to start a high level racing program. By April of the same year both manufacturers started to work on their respective race cars. As a side project, both manufacturers were also encouraged to try land speed records (LSR). Feats like that would certainly bring prestige to the country and the new regime.
Mercedes-Benz embraced the LSR idea, and in late 1934 their W25 “Rennlimousine” established a Class C record. With the introduction of the new W125 in 1937 they wanted to try again. But the car would need heavy modifications for a record attempt. To do so, a regular W125 chassis received an aerodynamic body (W125 Stromlinie), affording an unbelievably low 0.157 drag coefficient. The normal inline-8 M125 engine of the GP car wouldn’t be enough, so the MD 25 DAB/3 was used instead – stronger and with the added advantage that it was lower than the M125, allowing a lower bonnet. The MD 25 DAB/3 was a V12 (60º) with 5577 cm³ of displacement, DOHC and 48 valves that supercharged by twin Roots-type superchargers produced 736 hp.
To improve aerodynamic flow over and around the car, air intakes on the body were as small as possible. With that, the engine was primarily ice-cooled, and transmitted power to the wheels via a four speed gearbox. With a 5.6 engine the W125 Stromlinie was legal for the the international Class B (engines from five to eight liters) for a LSR attempt.
On January 28th, 1938, with the Bundesautobahn 5 closed between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, both Auto Union and Mercedes would try an international Class B LSR attempt. On that cold January morning, Rudolf Caracciola achieved an average 432.36 km/h over the flying kilometer, establishing a new world record. After Mercedes had its run, it was Auto Union’s turn. Bernd Rosemeyer would to try to beat Caracciola, aboard his Typ C Stromlinie. Tragically, on his first pass he lost control of the car and crashed, dying at the scene.
Caracciola’s record stood for 79 years, and was only officially surpassed on a public road in November 2017, by a Koenigsegg Agera RS (4’07” video). Totally restored, the W125 Stromlinie Rekordwagen still exists to this day. It sits in the Legend Room 7 of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Sans swastika, of course. In 1:43 the car looks terrific. And as with all other Silberpfeile I’ve seen from Minichamps, this is spot on to the real deal.
Since the car raced with swastikas, I wanted the model to have swastikas. So I had decals made and a few days after I received the model I applied them. And now it’s more historically accurate than when it left the box. I understand that Nazism is a delicate subject matter but trying to be politically correct and pretending it didn’t happen will NOT correct the past. I firmly believe that to forget the past is the path for younger generations to repeat old mistakes. So let’s never forget that we “human” beings can be pretty ugly depending on the situation.
Study your past, learn from your mistakes and become better – evolve.