More boost pressure for more power: 100 years ago, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) presented the first two series-production Mercedes passenger cars, each of which was equipped with a switchable Roots compressor. These types Mercedes 6/25 PS and 10/40 PS have their premiere at the first German automobile exhibition after the First World War, which takes place from 23 September to 2 October 1921 in the exhibition hall on Kaiserdamm in Berlin. The new Mercedes models are causing a stir there. But more than a year passed before production: the vehicles with the innovative drive did not come onto the market until 1923. The German Motor Show is one of the forerunners of today's International Motor Show (IAA). The fair took place under the name IAA from 1904 to 1911, and in the 1930s it was called the International Automobile and Motorcycle Exhibition (IAMA).
Mercedes compressor car!
- Mercedes 6/25 PS and 10/40 PS with Roots supercharger
- Premiere at the German Motor Show 1921 in Berlin
- Basis for the golden era of supercharged touring cars at the end of the 1920s
The supercharged engines with 1,6 and 2,6 liters displacement are developed under the direction of Paul Daimler. The eldest son of the automobile pioneer and company founder Gottlieb Daimler has been head of DMG vehicle development since Wilhelm Maybach left the company in 1907. The engineer experimented for the first time in 1919 with a Roots compressor as a mechanical supercharger on the engine of a 10/40 hp Mercedes-Knight. However, the valve-controlled Knight motor and the Roots compressor cannot be successfully combined with one another.
Aero engine know-how for automotive drives
Daimler is familiar with the principle of the positive displacement blower developed in North America in the 19th century from the development of aircraft engines during the First World War. After the experiment with the Knight engine turned out to be a technical dead end, development focused on valve-controlled engines. For the first Mercedes supercharged vehicles introduced 100 years ago, two inline four-cylinder engines with overhead camshafts, V-shaped valves and centrally recessed spark plugs were created. A vertical shaft at the end of the engine drives the camshaft and water pump. The Roots compressor, which is attached to the front of the engine, is driven from the front end of the crankshaft.
The effect of the mechanical supercharger is enormous: In the Mercedes 6/25 PS with 1.568 cubic centimeters, the output increases when the compressor is switched on 15 to 18 kW (20 to 25 hp) 28 to 29 kW (38 to 40 hp). The 10/40 PS type with a displacement of 2.614 cubic centimeters does not have a compressor 26 to 29 kW (35 to 40 hp) and with a compressor 48 kW (65 hp) available. On average, this is an increase in performance of a good 60 percent. In order to illustrate the potential in the name of the respective model, the two vehicles were given extended type designations in 1924: in future they will be offered as Mercedes 6/25/38 PS and Mercedes 10/40/65 PS. The last number stands for the power in hp with the compressor switched on.
Compressor technology for racing
Albert Heeß and Otto Schilling are also involved in the construction. After the merger of DMG with Benz & Cie. in 1926 as head of design for all vehicle engines developed at the new Daimler-Benz AG. As later chief engineer, Schilling had a decisive influence on Mercedes-Benz racing engine development in the 1930s. In the 1,6s, the 10-liter engine in the 40/1920 hp Mercedes already became the basis for racing engines with 1.500 cubic centimeters (Mercedes 6/40/65 hp racing cars from 1922) and 1.986 cubic centimeters (Mercedes 2-liter Indianapolis racing car from 1923 and Mercedes 2-liter Targa Florio racing car from 1924). The legendary, red-painted Targa Florio racing car, with which Christian Werner won the famous road race in 1924, can be seen in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Room Myth 7: Silver Arrows - races and records.
The mechanical charger, which was new and unusual in the automotive industry at the time, led to a large number of media reports and other publications in 1921 in which the Roots compressor was also vaguely referred to as a fan, an overload device and a car pump. But experts and the general public are quick to recognize the potential of the technology. The supercharged sports cars with the famous star in the K, S, SS, SSK and SSKL series from 1924 onwards became particularly legends.
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With high pressure 100 years ago: the first Mercedes compressor cars at the DAA in 1921
Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz
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