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1938 Mercedes Streamlined Car

The autobahns in Germany did not first come into existence under Adolf Hitler. On the contrary, they can be traced back to a great deal of preliminary work and planning. The first autobahn dates back to 1932. Accordingly, the cruising speeds increased. This doesn't mean that the average speeds of today would have been possible.

Due to the fact that the wind resistance increases to the square of the speed and thus, at over about 50 km/h is higher than the rolling resistance, a streamlined car body sometimes helps more to achieve higher average speeds than a more powerful engine does. For at least 15 years, this is exactly what was being worked on, before this Mercedes, with an accordingly streamlined body was built.

In this respect, Daimler-Benz was predestined for the building of a car like this, because here we have a manufacturer, who had always produced a large part of it's bodies themselves. At that time, this could by no means taken for granted. The car was a product from the 'Special Vehicle Building' department in the Sindelfingen factory. It was built on the basis of the 540 K, the top of the range sports model.

It was incredible, how the drag coefficient dropped from 0,57 to 0,36. After all, this enabled the heavy car to achieve speeds of almost 170 instead of 145 km/h. With a compressor, they could even get up to 185 km/h. The values were determined in the wind-tunnel, which the company already had at its disposal since 1934.

The low height of the roof area was very conspicuous, which reduced the windows almost to viewing slits. Over and above this, the front windows were curved out to the side, to divert the wind better. There were neither bumpers nor free-standing headlamps. The door-handles were also sunken, which is still today sometimes the case. The gap-dimensions were exceptionally narrow for a car of this period and the underside of the vehicle was almost completely enclosed.

Even the Mercedes-star on the bonnet was left out. Now it was only painted on, which in a number of models nowadays, is more or less copied by situating it in the radiator grille. Unfortunately the car couldn't be robbed of it's pointed radiator, which caused the front-end to start unusually high up. In addition of course, the gear ratio had to adapted to accommodate the higher speeds that were now possible.

You might well think that Daimler-Benz had built this car for their own museum, it was in fact, built to an order from the Deutsche Dunlop Gummi Comp. AG (German Dunlop Rubber Company) in Hanau, who carried out strain- and durability tests on tires at high speeds. After the war the car spent a short time in the hands of an American soldier and finally, through Dunlop, it found its way back to Daimler. 08/14