Goodwood 2014:- 1955 Mercedes Renntransporter

DSC_5623 At the Goodwood Festival Of Speed, the background awesomeness level is cranked so high that you walk past impossibly cool stuff without even registering it. I’m guessing I walked past this, the Legendary (note capital L) Mercedes 300S Renntransporter, four times before I even noticed it was there. To be honest, it was probably mostly obscured by onlookers with their jaws on the floor. If you’re here, looking at this website, then you’re probably familiar with this unmistakeable machine. It’s been scientifically proven that a typical car-addict thinks about the Renntransporter on average 147 times a day. Take the jump to make that 148. DSC_5795 Everybody knows the popular story of the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team and how the racing arm under the three pointed star came to be known as the Silver Arrows. The accepted tale stems from desperate measures taken to meet the entry weight criteria of the 1934 Nurburgring grand Prix, which was achieved by a frantic scraping off of white paint, exposing the aluminium beneath. Overnight, white Mercedes-Benz racers became Silver, and a legend was born, together with an anecdote that would pass into mythology, irrespective of whether it was actually true. Those kind of measures of desperation are often called for in racing circles, and it’s not always possible to find a resolve in time to join the starting grid. This was one of the inevitabilities of racing. But what if there was some miraculous way for a problematic racing car to be spirited away for repair and then magicked back in time for the green flag? Naturally, the Germans had the answer. DSC_5799 Specifically put together as a solution to this highly specific problem, the Renntransporter became a significant asset to offset the demands of just-in-time repair work. Mercedes could identify the problem, get the car back to Stuttgart, fixed and back to wherever in the shortest possible time. You see, the Renntransporter was fast. In the 1950s where a typical prime mover was happiest at closer to 50mph, this astonishing machine would cruise at double that, even with a racing car installed on its back. Truthfully, there’s very little that’s trucklike about it at all. Underneath the purposeful bodywork there sat mechanical components from various points of the Mercedes production line, and concealed an engine also found in the 300SL sports car. 192Hp was enough for a maximum of 105mph, enough to greatly improve chances of a timely re-delivery, and earning it the nickname of “The Blue Miracle”. The X-shaped chassis was derived from the 300S sedan, featuring double wishbone front suspension and other major components being moved around somewhat. DSC_5624 This one isn’t the original. Sadly, perhaps not realising the significance of what was always intended as a utility vehicle, the real 300S was destroyed by the factory in the late ’60s. What you see here is a reconstruction, by Mercedes-Benz themselves, as close as they could possibly get to the original without the blueprints, which had also been disposed of. Much examination of old photos was required; and finding a true colour match was extremely difficult considering that the majority of old images were in black and white. How much extra drama would be brought to the world of high-level Motorsport if the hero-cars were paraded through the streets on the back of custom high-speed trucks, rather than simply delivered in faceless corporate-dressed semi-trailers? (images copyright 2014 Chris Haining and Hooniverse)

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