After designing the first Nesselsdorfer-Wagenbau, later Tata, Präesident in 1897, patenting the first rear swing axles in in 1903 while working for Adler and designing the first motor with a built in gearbox Austrian Edmund Rumpler founded the first German aircraft manufacturer Rumpler Flugzeugwerke GmbH with August Euler in 1908 which in 1909 gave birth to the Rumpler Luft Verkehr department.
Following the 1914-18 war Rumpler Luft Verkehr was reconfigured as an airline that in 1926 became part of Deutsche Luft Hansa AG.
Meanwhile Edmund turned his attention to the design and manufacture of automobiles again and well over a decade before the streamlined Tata T77 and Chrylser Airflow went into production in 1934 and designed the sensation of the 1921 Berlin Auto Show known as the Rumpler Tropfen, droplet, Wagen.
It is believed that around 100 of these 5 seat vehicles; with a 36 hp W6 motor mounted ahead of the rear axle, capable of 70 mph, who’s body design was inspired by aerodynamic principles of the day were built. Many served as taxi’s and were immortalised as such in Fritz Lang’s 1927 epic expressionist master peace Metropolis.
Chief Benz engineer Hans Nibel was so impressed with the chassis design of the Rumpler he convinced Benz to use a virtually unchanged Rumpler chassis to construct their own single seat Grand Prix racing car which was powered by an 80hp 2 litre 122 cui double overhead cam straight six in 1923.
The Benz Tropfenwagen was not a great success and was abandoned after the merger of Daimler with Benz in 1926, Auto Union under the direction of Dr Ferdinand Porsche would be the next team to progress the concept of the mid engined racing car.
In 1931 Hans Nibel set to work designing a small 4 seat two door car which again was inspired by the Rumpler, but this time he put the 25 hp 1.3 litre / 79 cui 4 cylinder side valve motor behind the rear axle in the heck, hither to boot / trunk with the 4 speed synchromesh transmission in front of both the engine and rear axle.
From 1934 to 1936 130 H (Heck) was sold as a two door hard top saloon/sedan, soft top as seen here or convertible with out the side windows, while the ride was considered good for the passengers the handling was only adequate for contemporary conditions and described as awkward for the driver.
Nibel had Daimler’s Max Wagner design a new chassis for the more powerful 55hp, but similarly laid out, 150 H 2 seat roadster which had the petrol tank moved from the back as in the 130 H to the front meaning the new model had virtually no storage space, this second model was only offered and sold in limited numbers in 1936.
My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing these photographs of the Mercedes Benz 130 H taken at Dana Point Concours d’Elegance a few years ago.
Thanks for joining me on this “Heck Motor” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be revisiting this years Monterey Rolex Reunion. Don’t forget to come back now !