1912 MERCEDES 40HP PHAETON-TOURER
Registration No. SV 6806
Car No. 12209
Engine No. 15157
White with black hood and upholstery, varnished wood wheels.
Engine: four cylinder, 5.7 litre, T-Head; Gearbox: four speed and reverse with outside gate gearchange, cone clutch, final drive by side chains; Suspension: semi-elliptic front and rear; Brakes: handbrake to rear wheel, two separate on transmission by individual foot pedals. Right hand drive.
When the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft of Stuttgart Unterturkheim introduced their new car to the public at Nice week in March 1901 they not only gave their product a different name, but the car's overall refinement and performance rendered overnight all other cars of the day obsolescent. The new car incorporated a number of the company's existing features; a gate-gearchange and a honeycomb radiator; and to these were added features such as a pressed-steel chassis and mechanical inlet valves for the engine. French chagrin at the defeat in the Franco-Prussian war thirty years earlier meant that there was still resistance in France to buying German products and so the name Mercédès was given to the cars. A name of Spanish origin fooled few into thinking that the car was other than of German manufacture, but such was the quality of the product that it sold successfully, and at a high price. It was also much imitated by firms such as Berliet, Fiat and Rochet-Schneider who were unashamed in having their cars described as being 'of the Mercédès type'.
With a reputation for quality established and with a vigorous and successful racing policy the Mercédès name rapidly obtained world-wide recognition. The list of those who owned Mercédès motor cars reads like an international Who's Who with Kaiser Wilhelm II and King Edward VII heading the list.
By 1912 Mercedes (the accents had officially been done away with in 1909) were offering a range of 8 models, from a comparatively small 15hp four-cylinder of 1.8 litres that sold in Britain for £350, to an 80/90hp, 9½ litre that at £1275 was some £300 more expensive than a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. Near the middle of the range was the 40hp with 110 x 150mm bore and stroke bi-bloc engine that sold in chassis form for £725. Two versions of this model were offered; the standard example had shaft drive, 895 x 135 tyres and an 8½ inch ground clearance; a "Colonial" model with final drive by side chains (in true Mercedes style), 1020 x 120 tyres and a 12 inch ground clearance was also available.
This example is a Colonial chassis and the Mercedes-Benz records show that order number 12524 was placed on the 15th February 1912 by Roberts & Co of Frankfurt-am-Main for a customer in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When the car was brought to the UK in the early 1970s it was found that it had last been used on the roads of Argentina in 1926. Furthermore, it was in remarkably original condition with its correct Mercedes-Maybach carburettor and other mechanical ancillaries, original coachwork with the factory body plate in place, and it was evident from its condition that it had only covered a limited mileage.
Restoration of the car was entrusted to Antique Automobiles Ltd and over 3700 hours were spent in bringing the car back to the condition in which it would have been when it was shipped to Argentina in February 1913. Once restoration was completed the car became a principal exhibit at the Stratford on Avon Motor Museum. When the Museum closed down and the final contents were disposed of in 1990, the owner of the Mercedes could not be traced and subsequently the present owner purchased it. He has thoroughly researched the car and has expended a considerable sum of money in having it recommissioned for road use, a necessity after a lengthy period of hibernation. He has also re-equipped it with appropriate lamps both front and rear (these had gone missing in the period of storage) and fitted it with correct-style period luggage trunks. Additionally, an electric starter motor was added to mitigate the problems of not having a chauffeur readily available to swing by hand the 5.7 litre engine.
This imposing vehicle conforms in every mechanical detail with that described by the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft in its 1912 sales literature and production records. The external specification is also completely correct for a Mercedes-bodied motor car of 1912.
The tourer is suitable for all VCC events (it is road registered and Mot'd), particularly those covering long distance as well as the FIVA rally and the highly popular Horseless Carriage Club events in the US.