Tag Archives: Hoffman

Der Adenauer Daimler – Mercedes-Benz (W186 II) 300 Cabriolet D #02905/52

When Mercedes Benz revived production of automobiles after WW2 it started manufacturing four cylinder vehicles that were a development of the pre war W136 and W153 models which evolved into the short lived W191 in 1952.

The first all new post war Mercedes Benz models were the six cylinder W186 and W187 models launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1951.

Mercedes-Benz (W186 II) Typ 300, Quail Lodge, California,

The larger W186 Typ 300 was powered by a 3 litre / 183 cui overhead cam straight six engine with an iron block and an aluminium head that produced 113hp.

Drawing on pre war racing practice the Typ 300 chassis used ovoid tubes with double wishbone independent front suspension and swing axle independent rear suspension.

Mercedes-Benz (W186 II) Typ 300, Quail Lodge, California,

Germany’s first post war Chancellor Konrad Adenauer used the Typ 300 exclusively during his period of office which ended in 1963 and unofficially lent his name to the model.

He famously loaded one into a Lufthansa aeroplane for his 1955 visit to Moscow which ended in the establishment of full diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and the release of the last 10,000 German prisoners of war.

Mercedes-Benz (W186 II) Typ 300, Quail Lodge, California,

Today’s featured 300 Cabriolet D left the production line on New Years Eve 1952 complete with high end option Becker Nurburg III valve radio and shipped to New York importer Max Hoffman.

The cars first owner was Mr. Franklin Eli of Buffalo, New York who drove the car over 60,000 miles before putting it in storage in 1969, upon his death in 1999 the car passed to his nephew who began what turned out to be a 12 year restoration.

Mercedes-Benz (W186 II) Typ 300, Quail Lodge, California,

The cars third owner completed the Concours winning restoration in 2012 and the following year offered it at Bonhams Quail auction with an estimated $275,000 – $325,000 price tag.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing today’s photographs taken at the Bonhams Quail Auction.

Thanks for joining me on this “Der Adenauer Daimler” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I will be looking at a Delage. Don’t for get to come back now !


Heart Breaker – Mercedes Benz W121 B2 190 SL Roadster

When Mercedes Benz US importer Max Hoffman suggested that Mercedes Benz build the 300 SL Gullwing Coupé for an exclusive US clientele in 1953 he also suggested they build a more affordable Roadster which became the 190 SL Roadster like the one seen here at the Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham a few years ago.

Mercedes Benz 190 SL Roadster, Classic Motor Show, NEC, Birmingham

The 190 SL was built on a modified W121 Saloon platform unlike the 300 SL which had a space frame chassis, but used similar double wishbone front and swing axle rear independent suspension.

Power came from a short stroke 1897 cc / 115.7 cui 4 cylinder variant of the 300 SL’s 3 litre / 183 cui over head cam six cylinder engine that produced 120 hp.

Production of the 190 SL commenced in 1955 and continued until 1963 by which time 25,881 examples had been built.

Renowned for melting the hearts of the proudest women the 190 SL included amongst it’s star studded clientele Grace Kelly, Gina Lollobrigida and Bibi Johns.

Thanks for joining me on this “Heart Breaker” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Rudge Wheel Roadster – Mercedes Benz (W198) 300 SL

In 1955 Mercedes Benz introduced it’s 300 SL Gullwing Coupé, at the behest of their American agent Max Hoffman, and over the next 2 years built 1400 examples.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Danville Concours d'Elegace

For reasons that are not entirely clear to me Mercedes Benz did not introduce the almost mechanically identical roadster version until 1957.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Danville Concours d'Elegace

The major difference between the two models is that the space frame required lower sills than the gull wing to permit front hinged doors.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Danville Concours d'Elegace

The fuel tank and rear axle were also redesigned which allowed the spare wheel to be taken out of the boot /trunk and mounted beneath the floor panel.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Danville Concours d'Elegace

With the space between the boot / trunk lid freed up Mercedes offered it’s customers bespoke suitcases to fill the space up, as there was no storage in the cabin area as there had been in the Coupé.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Danville Concours d'Elegace

From 1957 to 1963 1,858 Roadsters were built, the example seen here has been in the same family since it was purchased from the used lot of a Chevrolet dealer in 1965.

It is one of less than 50 Roadsters, all built in 1957, to be documented as supplied with Rudge Wheels from the factory.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing today’s photographs, taken a couple of years ago at Danville Concours d’Elegance.

Thanks for joining me on this “Rudge Wheel Roadster” Edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Wider Longer Lower – Chevron B28 #B28-74-01

Like Lola’s Eric Broadley a year earlier, Chevron Cars founder Derek Bennett decided that the way to go with the Chevron B28 1974 Formula 5000 challenger was wider, longer and lower.

Chevron B28, Simon Taylor, Silverstone Classic

Unlike Eric, Derek did not have such a good time convincing his customers that the B28 was a step forward they should invest in, with the VDS team being the only takers of two new B28’s, despite the fact that the previous years Chevron B24 had been successful winning the British F5000 title with Teddy Pelitte at the wheel and the Tasman F5000 series with Peter Gethin at the wheel, while Lola cars had not won any F5000 championships since 1971 !

Chevron B28, Simon Taylor, Silverstone Classic

With works support and Swiss Morand tuned fuel injected Chevrolet motors the VDS teams B28’s with reigning champion Teddy Pelitte and newly crowned Tasman Champion Peter Gethin raced exclusively in the 18 round Rothmans sponsored European F5000 championship.

Chevron B28, Simon Taylor, Silverstone Classic

By the season’s end Peter Gethin’s four victories were only good enough to secure 2nd place in the championship to Bob Evans driving an almost ubiquitous Lola T332 model while poor Teddy Pelitte driving what is believed to be today’s featured chassis only completed 7 laps of the opening two races before his season started getting any momentum.

Teddy managed several second place finishes, to Peter at Monza and wound up a distant fourth in the final championship standings. Interestingly the last race of the European Championship season was won by Vern Schuppan driving a Chevron B24 with the B28 suspension modifications.

Today’s featured chassis #B28-74-01 appears to have remained in the UK, with Tony Dean driving the car with Rockerfella’s, discotheque, sponsorship for most of the 1975 season before entering it for Brazilian Ingo Hoffman for the last four races of the season while he sorted out some problems with Her Majesties government regarding the import of cigars from the USA, said to have been smuggled in to the UK inside a spare car called the KEC Special, KEC denoting King Edward Cigar.

In 2012 present owner Simon Taylor, seen driving the car at Silverstone in these photo’s, had #B28-74-01 painted in the blue Thursday’s, discotheque, livery that was seen on the sister chassis #B28-74-02 in 1975 when it was driven by Australian F1 refugee Dave Walker for RAM racing.

Thanks for joining me on this “Wider Longer Lower” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Maserati Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Hansgen History For Sale – Hansgen Jaguar Special

Walt Hansgen was working at the family F.G. Hansgen body repair shop in Westfield, New Jersey when he was bitten by the racing bug aged 32.

In 1951 he managed to scrimp, save and borrow enough to buy a brand new Jaguar XK120 but despite ever improving results soon found it was not fast enough to keep pace with the competition and the new C-type Jaguar first seen in September 1952 in particular.

After racing in borrowed vehicles most of the way through 1952 Walt and Emil Hoffman built the chrome molly steel frame for today’s featured Hansgen Jaguar Special and transferred the running gear from his XK120 to save around 700 lbs in weight.

Hansgen Jaguar Special, Lime Rock, Ed Hyman,

Photo Copyright Ed Hyman 2007

Walt is known to have raced the car on at least 9 occasions through 1953 winning the SCCA Regional Cumberland Cup third time out and culminated by winning the 6th Annual Grand Prix of Watkins Glen.

Walt sold the car to Paul Timmins for the 1954 season and continued racing with a C-Type he bought from Marsten Gregory until he was eventually picked up by Briggs Cunningham to race as a professional.

Paul scored at least four second place finishes from at least eight known starts in the Hansgen Special.

Hansgen Jaguar Special, Lime Rock, Richard Rowley

Photo Copyright Richard Rowley 2014

Today the Hansgen Special is owned by Bob Millstein who bought her in 1983 and set about a six year restoration which was rewarded with a Jaguar Club of North America’s National Concours Champion award in 1989.

Since then Bob has continued to race the Hansgen Special which is seen in these photographs at Lime Rock. Ryan ‘Racer 187’ Smith, seen in the Daimler in the top photo, tells me the Hansgen Special is up for sale. If you would like to know more about this piece of Hansgen History, I will gladly put you in contact with the vendor, usual disclaimers apply.

My thanks to Ryan Smith for arranging permission for me to use the first photo by Ed Hyman and the second by Richard Rowley.

Thanks for joining me on this “Hansgen History For Sale” edition of “Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I shall be looking at an unusual Japanese Formula One Car. Don’t forget to come back now !


Cut Down Turbo Look – Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Speedster

In 1950 US Porsche importer Max Hoffman suggested to the factory that they build a car that could compete with English sports cars, particularly the Jaguar XK120. Porsche’s response was to build what would become the Type 540 that Hoffman dubbed the America Roadster in 1951. In order to be competitive the car was eventually built in aluminium but the cost was so great, US$4600, that only 17 were sold and everyone lost Hoffman, Porsche and the designated coachwork builder Heuer Glaser money, Heuer Glaser lost so much they went bankrupt.

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Speedster, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

Despite the commercial failure of the Type 540 Hoffman convinced Porsche to have another go at producing something that could compete with the British imports to the USA adding that the cost should be below $3,000. Porsche ended up presenting a stripped down version of the 356 Cabriolet fitted with a removable windscreen for competition, a light weight soft top, for weather protection only, side curtains replaced the side windows and the car was fitted with competition type bucket seats. The Speedster was an instant success despite it’s minimal trim, even the heater was an optional extra to keep the base cost down.

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Speedster, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

Speedster production continued with model upgrades in 1955 and 1957 until 1958 when the model was replaced by the slightly more opulently appointed Cabriolet D contracted to coach builder Drauz at Heilbronn.

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Speedster, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

Given the success, at a cost of minimal profit margins, of the 356 Speedster it is perhaps not surprising that Porsche waited a full quarter of a century after the launch of the 911 before introducing a successor to the 356 Speedster in the form of the 911 Carrera 3.2 Speedster.

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Speedster, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

In 1969 impatient with Porsche to produce a Speedster 911 Porsche enthusiast Stan Townes created a Speedster by cutting the top off a crashed 1967 911 Coupé and fitting a cut down screen as per the original 356 Speedsters. It was not until 2 years after American CEO Peter Schutz had extended the development of the 911 in 1981 that Dr Helmut Bott turned his attention to an official factory built 911 Speedster.

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Speedster, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

The first public awareness of the new model came in 1987 when two prototypes appeared with removable windscreens and a number of other features including a Clubsport fiber glass cockpit surround that effectively turned the 911 into a single seat racer complete with roll hoop.

Nothing quite so radical was available when the 217 hp, option M503, 911 Carrera 3.2 Speedster went into production from January to July 1989. Two versions of the Speedster were built, 171 with the narrow body and 2,104 with the flared Porsche 930 ‘Turbo Look’ body as seen on today’s featured vehicle which is one of just 139 Speedsters equipped with the steering on the right.

Thanks for joining me on this “Cut Down Turbo Look” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow, when I be looking at one of the most radical street cars and desirable Porsches ever built. Don’t forget to come back now.

PS Some months ago I posted about a blog about a Buick Electra 225 Riviera that was supplied by Deal of Asheville NC.

Deal were taken over by Harmony Motors who operate a VW/Audi/Porsche dealership. Toni Burrell from Harmony has contacted me to let me, and you, know that Harmony are trying to raise $10,000 for the Mission Foundation Ladies Night Out breast cancer screening programme. Harmony are donating $100 for every new Volkswagen sold during October.

So if you are thinking about buying a new Volkswagen and would like to be part of the Mission Foundation Ladies Night Out fund raising drive and your anywhere near Asheville NC you better get your skates on further details can be found on this link.


Direct Injection Of Kudos – Mercedes Benz 300 SL

In 1952 the underpowered 115 hp carburettor 3 litre / 183cui Sport Leicht Mercedes Benz W194 demonstrated remarkable versatility by winning the Le Mans 24 hours, the Eifelrennen sports car race at the Nurburgring and the Carrera Panamerica in Mexico racing against more powerful opposition from Ferrari and Jaguar.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood FoS

These successes lay in the lightweight tubular steel chassis and a low drag body which was facilitated by canting the straight six cylinder motor at a 50 degree angle.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood FoS

New York Mercedes distributor Max Hoffman suggested a road going version of the W194 would make a viable commercial impact in the United States and so the 300 SL was launched in 1954 with a the worlds first mechanical direct injection petrol engine which produced 175 hp.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood FoS

In order to accommodate the high sided tubular steel chassis, designed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut, distinctive aluminium gull wings were used in conjunction with a tilt away steering column to facilitate access.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood FoS

The spare tyre fills the boot / trunk space entirely meaning one had to travel light in the 300SL as demonstrated by the suitcase on the parcel shelf.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood FoS

The 300SL was not without problems derived from it’s racing heritage the large volume oil system rarely got up to proper operating temperature on shorter journeys and in turn the oil would get diluted by the mechanical fuel injection by unburned petrol that remained in the cylinders when the engine was switched off. This meant that the 300 SL needed an oil change every 1000 miles.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood FoS

But for all of it’s problems the aerodynamic shape of the 300 SL meant that with a 160 mph capability it was easily the fastest road car of it’s day when it was launched. 80% of the nearly 1400 units built went to the USA changing the image of Mercedes Benz from staid to sporty overnight forever.

For a look at a contemporary interpretation of the 300 SL checkout Dave Wolin’s wild Chevrolet powered 300 SL I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

If your interested in the pre war silver arrows racing vehicles I strongly recommend a visit to Paul Chenard’s Automobiliart website and check out his ‘Silver Clouds‘ illustrated book of the 1934 Grand Prix season.

Thanks for joining me on this Direct Injection edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !