Two historical racing cars from the collection of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart will be participating in the 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed. The 120 hp Mercedes manufactured by Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) was one of the last original designs by Wilhelm Maybach. And the 120 hp Benz from Benz & Cie. competed in the French Grand Prix in Dieppe exactly 100 years ago.

Mercedes at Goodwood Festival of Speed
- image 242362

For the 1906 racing season, DMG for the first time developed a racing car with six-cylinder engine. Wilhelm Maybach had designed this engine – a highly progressive unit at the time – as early as the fall of 1905 with overhead camshaft, overhead valves and double high-voltage spark-plug ignition.

The individual steel cylinders are mounted on the light-alloy crankcase. Cooling jackets and cylinder head are made of a single casting and welded to the steel cylinders. This design served as a model for top-performance engines for decades to come. From a total displacement of 11.1 liters, the six-cylinder generates 106 hp (78 kW) at 1400/min and 120 hp (88 kW) at 1500/min – never before had such high engine speeds been achieved in engine manufacture, the result of Maybach’s endeavor to keep the moved masses in the valve timing gear as small as possible.

Ironically, a dispute arose at DMG over the modern design in that several technical details did not meet with the approval of the management, the supervisory board and the company’s most important and highly influential customer, Emil Jellinek. In addition to Maybach being discredited, the internal strife had the consequence that no sufficiently tested six-cylinder car was available for the first French Grand Prix in June 1906. Instead, the company entered three versions of the 120 hp Mercedes of 1905, with four-cylinder engines specially modified for this race.

The 120 hp Mercedes presented by Mercedes-Benz in Goodwood dates back to the year 1906 and forms part of the collection of the company’s museum. It hasn’t been operated in public for a long time – since its entry in the Semmering hillclimb race in 1908, it has above all been used as a static exhibit. Now the car is presented to the public again – and used for its original purpose, namely for racing. This is Goodwood, after all, were the racing atmosphere of bygone times is revived.


Competitor from the year 1908

This also applies to the second car brought by Mercedes-Benz to Goodwood. The 120 hp Benz of 1908 is one of three cars which were successfully entered in races by Benz & Cie., among them the French Grand Prix on July 7, 1908. Victor Hémery and René Hanriot finished the race in second and third place, respectively; their team principal Fritz Erle occupied rank seven. The winner was a competitor from Stuttgart-Untertürkheim – Christian Lautenschlager at the wheel of a Mercedes car.

The 120 hp Benz is considered to be a groundbreaking car. The four-cylinder engine designed by Louis de Groulart features overhead valves which are controlled from below by a camshaft via pushrods and rocker arms. From a displacement of 12.4 liters, the engine generates 120 hp (88 kW) at 1400/min. The chassis was designed along tried and tested lines which were also adopted by the competition in Untertürkheim. The frame consists of pressed-steel profiles, with the side members being offset above the rear axle – not above the front axle as in the Mercedes.

The 120 hp Benz Grand Prix racing car from the collection of the Mercedes-Benz Museum visited Goodwood several times already. In the anniversary year of the French Grand Prix, it joins forces with other cars from the same era to give wings to that very special Goodwood spirit.

Technical data

120 hp Mercedes racing car

  • Year of production: 1906
  • Cylinders: 6 (in-line)
  • Displacement: 11,080 cc
  • Output: 120 hp (88 kW) at 1500/min, 106 hp (78 kW) at 1400/min
  • Top speed: 150 km/h

120 hp Benz racing car

  • Year of production: 1908
  • Cylinders: 4 (in-line)
  • Displacement: 12,076 cc
  • Output: 120 hp (88 kW) at 1500/min
  • Top speed: 160 km/h
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: