Mercedes-Benz W125 Rekordwagen

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The W125 Rekordwagen on display at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart, Germany.

The Mercedes-Benz W125 Rekordwagen was an experimental, high-speed automobile produced in the late 1930s. The streamlined car was derived from the open-wheel race car Mercedes-Benz W125 Formel-Rennwagen, of which also a streamlined version was raced in 1937 at the AVUS in Berlin. The main difference to the Grand Prix race car, which had to adhere to the 750 kg (1653 lb) limit, was a bigger, heavier and more powerful engine.

The car is at display in the Mercedes-Benz Museum [1] in Stuttgart.

1938 Mercedes-Benz W125 specifications

  • Engine: MD 25 DAB/3 60 Degree V12
  • Engine Position: Front Longitudinal
  • Aspiration: Twin Rootes superchargers
  • Valvetrain: DOHC 4 valves per cylinder
  • Displacement: 5,576.75 cc / 340.31 in³ (82.0 x 88.0 mm)
  • Compression: 9.17:1
  • Power: 541 kW (736 PS; 725 hp) @ 5800 rpm
  • Power/displacement 131.97 PS (97.06 kW; 130.16 hp) per litre
  • Power/weight: 621.1 PS (456.8 kW; 612.6 hp) per tonne
  • Transmission: 4-speed manual

The record

Rudolf Caracciola's record of 432.7 km/h (268 mph) over the flying kilometre on 28 January 1938, still remains the fastest ever officially timed speed on a public road (at time of writing, 2006). It also was the fastest speed ever recorded in Germany until Rico Anthes bettered it with a Top Fuel Dragster on the Hockenheimring drag strip.

This record breaking run was made on the Reichs-Autobahn A5 between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, where onlookers were rattled by the brutal boom of the side spewing exhaust stacks as the silver car hurtled past. By nine that morning, Caracciola and team chief Alfred Neubauer were having a celebration breakfast at the Park Hotel in Frankfurt.

Sadly, popular driver Bernd Rosemeyer was later killed when trying to beat that record for Auto Union. This also put an end to the record attempts of Mercedes, even though Hans Stuck later wanted to beat the overall land speed record with the Porsche-designed Mercedes-Benz T80 which was powered by a 3,000 horsepower (2,200 kW) airplane engine.