The very first Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France run at Le Mans in 1906 was run to a maximum weight of 1000 kgs / 2204 lbs and maxiumum fuel consumption formula which encouraged manufacturers to put large engines into flimsy chassis, the winning car was a 90hp 13 litre / 793 cui Renault with shaft drive to the rear wheels driven by Ferencsz Sziz.
For the 1907 Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France run at Dieppe the maximum permissible weight restriction was abandoned but the 9.4 miles per gallon maximum fuel consumption was retained, this much shorter race run over a single day was won by 1906 second place finisher Felice Nazzaro aboard a chain driven 16.5 litre / 1006 cui FIAT ahead of the 1906 winner Ferencsz who was again driving a Renault.
In 1908 the Automobile Club de France ran it’s Grand Prix on the same course at Dieppe but for vehicles that weighed a minimum of 1100 kgs and a maximum cylinder bore of 155 milimeters / 6.1 inches for 4 cylinder motors or 127 mm / 5 inches for 6 cylinder motors, no one built a six cylinder car for the race.
Mercedes turned to Paul Daimler to conceive it’s 1908 Grand Prix challenger in the absence of William Maybach who conceived the 1907 Daimler Grand Prix challenger before leaving Daimler to form his own company with his son Karl.
Paul did not stray far from William Maybach’s idea’s, but did build a much lower car which improved the the handling.
The car had a 2.7 meter / 106″ wheel base with a 1.4 meter / 55″ track, it was powered by a 12.8 litre / 780 cui motor that produced 135hp at just 1400 rpm, the rear wheels were driven through a 4 speed gearbox chain drive, despite a top speed in excess of 100 mph the foot and hand brakes operated only on the rear wheels.
Otto set fastest lap of the race at over 78 mph but retired on the third lap with a broken wheel, Willy came home 5th over 36 mins behind the winner Christian who on his last set of 100psi Michelin tyres came home over 8 mins ahead of a pair of 150hp Benz’s that finished 2nd and 3rd.
All three cars were sold after the 1908 Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France, one of them was tuned to produce 180hp and recorded a speed of over 107mph over the flying kilometer during the Ostend Speed week with the bearded Belgian Camille “Le Diable Rouge” Jenatzy at the wheel.
President and CEO of the family German Heating System company bearing his name, and former sponsor of Niki Lauda’s hat, Martin Viessmann is seen at the wheel of one of the Mercedes Grand Prix cars that is the sister to the one driven to victory by Christian in the 1908 Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France.
Thanks for joining me on this “Minimum Weight Restricted Bore” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I will be looking at a Zeppelin powered Belgian car. Don’t forget to come back now !