Mercedes-Benz W196 Stromlinie #22 – Minichamps

1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Stromlinie 
Pilot: Hans Hermann 
Team: Mercedes-Benz 
Race: DNF, 1954 French GP Minichamps - 432.543022 (diecast)

Published 07/31/18

Mercedes-Benz W196 Stromlinie #18 (06/18/18):
Right after WWII, Mercedes-Benz was not very much interested in Grand Prix racing. Auto Union became Audi and was no longer racing, and Alfa Romeo was also out. Only Ferrari and Maserati were still at it, but basically with F2 designed cars. To stimulate other manufacturers to participate, a rule change was in order. So beginning in 1954, engines could only have 750 cm³ if supercharged or 2500 cm³ if naturally aspirated. The time had come for Mercedes to get back in the game, and a racing department, headed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut, was created. The race team was once again managed by the legendary Alfred Neubauer, and the pilots would be Juan-Manuel Fangio, Karl Kling and Hans Hermann.

The development of the revolutionary W196 had these new rules as guidelines. The new rules were very specific about the engine and that the car should be a single-seater. But since there was no mention about the body of the car, Mercedes did some lateral thinking and to improve aerodynamics designed a car with a full body. This design, specifically targeted for very fast circuits, became known as the W196 Stromlinie (or Typ Monza, after the Italian GP).

Stromlinienwagen #22
The wheels… Not as nice as on the #18.

The chassis was a space frame made of welded aluminum tubes enveloped by an ultra-light Elektron magnesium-alloy bodywork. Stopping the car was the responsibility of extra-wide drum brakes. They were fitted inboard to decrease the unsprung weight and also because they didn’t fit inside the wheels. But the car’s strong point was the M196 engine. Very reliable, the engine was an inline-8 with 2497 cm³ and an unheard-of-at-the-time desmodromic valve actuation, that with direct fuel injection delivered 257 hp. To keep the bonnet as low as possible, the engine sat longitudinally and at in angle on the chassis. Though advanced as the car was for its time, specially because tire technology wasn’t as developed, all who drove it complained about snap-oversteer at speed.

Stromlinienwagen #22
Almost the same, but not quite. W196 Stromlinie #22 is a bit inferior.

The debut of the new car was at the French Grand Prix at Reims, in July 4th, 1954, organized by the Automobile ‘Club du Champagne. On Saturday the 3rd, at midnight, would begin a 12-hour sports-car race, and after a lunch break on Sunday the French GP would start. Juan M. Fangio started on pole in car #18, with Karl Kling in #20 right as his side. Hans Hermann, piloting the Stromlinienwagen #22, started in the second row. Though doing the fastest lap of the race, not long after Hermann had to retire when his engine went on strike.

I guess that the logical choice for a second W196 from the French GP would have been Kling’s #20. However, Hermann’s car was too cheap to pass up 😁. Interestingly, this is NOT the same model as my #18. Well, at least the wheels are different. While my #18 has true photo-etched wire wheels, the wheels on the Stromlinie #22 are plastic. Very finely molded plastic, but not photo-etched. Therefore, this particular model is only a contender if found for VERY cheap. A nice model, but the #18 is better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *