After his successes racing, Stern bicycles, a motorbike, Ford “No 999”, becoming the first man to drive a timed lap of 60 mph at Indianapolis State Fairgrounds in 1903 and building a reputation as a match racer Barney Oldfield went to New York and bought today’s featured Benz, of the type that won the Prinz Henry Car Trails in Europe, from the Broadway Benz Co. showroom floor in 1907.
Barney and baseball star Ty Cobb are said to have driven this Benz in barnstorming events and it bears a plaque saying that it was timed at 115 mph.
The 7.4 litre / 451 cui 4 cylinder motor featured a hemi head with four valves per cylinder and produced 100hp when new and is said to have produced 130hp with further tuning.
In 1913 Barney Oldfield and his 1907 Benz stared in a 12 minuet silent Keystone production directed by Max Sennett called ‘Barney Oldfield’s Race For Life’ which featured a damsel in distress a steam train and the Keystone Cops operating a hand cart. A fuller synopsis of the film can be seen here.
The Barney Oldfield was one of the earliest to drive cars carrying sponsorship Barney used the slug line ‘Tires are my only life insurance!’
My thanks to Geoffrey Horton who took these photo’s of the Benz at the Desert Classic Concours d’Elegance a couple of years ago.
Thanks for joining me on this “Race For Life” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you’ll be joining me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at the Lotus Renault F1 team’s 2013 season. Don’t forget to come back now !