One of the really cool things at Lime Rock Park’s Historic Festival in 2015 was the the presence of some particularly rare Mercedes machinery. Lime Rock asked me to come out a few days early to help photograph a special event for the press during which we’d get to watch famed 1970s F1 driver Jochen Mass fire up a dual-supercharged 1939 W154 Grand Prix for some hot laps, as well as have the chance to ride around the track in its charming 1914 Grand Prix forefather. Both cars were perfectly prepared by the Revs Institute.
First, the 1914 Grand Prix car. It’s made of more wood and leather than you would reasonably imagine a car should be. The brakes are on the rear wheels only, operated by an outboard lever. There is a farty hoot hoot horn. And it’s gorgeous. Riding around Lime Rock Park in the passenger (mechanic’s) seat feels like you’re being chauffeured on top of the world’s loudest ice cream truck.
Then, there’s the W154, which is perhaps the most handsome (and fearsome) race car I’ve ever seen and heard in my life. This is the true Mercedes Benz Silver Arrow. In 1939, this machine made over 400 horsepower using a two-stage supercharger bolted to a V12 that would push it over 200 mph, given the right gears. It takes a village of people wearing matching polo shirts a half hour just to start the engine, and when they do, it sounds like a battle of the Pantera cover bands. Jochen Mass gave it the beans going down Sam Posey straight and the thunder echoed off the Litchfield hills. It was a pretty good day.
More of my dumb commentary on these photos can be found where they were originally published, this piece on roadandtrack.com.