1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Stromlinie Pilot: Hans Hermann Team: Mercedes-Benz Race: DNF, 1954 French GP Minichamps - 432.543022 (diecast)
Mercedes-Benz left Grand Prix racing after WWII. However, in the early 50s some thought it was time for a comeback. Concurrently, for 1954, FIA introduced new rules for the F1 championship. And most important of these rule changes were the new engine guidelines. Under these new rules, Mercedes’s engineering department could come up with a feasible engine. Under the supervision of Rudolf Uhlenhaut Mercedes’ engineers created the M196 engine. It was an inline-8 displacing 2497 cm³, that with desmodromic valve actuation, and direct fuel injection produced 257 hp.
However, these new rules were only very specific about the engine of the car. Other than the car being a single-seater, there was no reference to the car’s body. So in a bout of (very) lateral thinking, Uhlenhaut designed a fully enclosed body. Made of an ultra-light magnesium alloy (“Elektron”), the full body tremendously enhanced the car’s aerodynamics. The chassis, on the other hand, was a much more normal space frame made of welded aluminum tubes. Nonetheless, it was rigid and just as important, also light.
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.