1939 Mercedes-Benz W154 Grand Prix
Chassis No. 15
The Mercedes-Benz W154 is one of the greatest Grand Prix race cars ever built, and our most rewarding preservation / restoration project to date. When the renowned Collier Collection commissioned us to collaborate with them on this extraordinary car, their primary objective was to save the 1939 sheet metal panels, create a half-nose to display the remarkable engine and chassis details, and to correct the shape of a previously made set of panels for use on the track. Old-world skills were required to repair the fragile original panels while retaining their hand-hammered character.
Close scrutiny of historic documents and overseas trips to examine other Silver Arrows led to changes in the scope of the project. We developed special techniques to replicate the minimal paint on the body panels and the hard, corrosion-resistant blue/black chassis treatment. Minute details of the upholstery were replicated. The engine had been restored by Crosthwaite & Gardiner but most of the original hardware had been misplaced long before. Comparing notes with the Smithsonian, we learned that the W154 oil and fuel line technology is identical to that used in the WWII German aircraft they are studying. They kindly lent us authentic pieces, enabling us to fabricate historically accurate lines and fittings.
Faced with the ultimate challenge of running this car at-speed, we stripped the car to the bare chassis, rebuilt the suspension and brake system, and reproduced the correct fuel cooler. We added hand-painted race livery, team spares box, and quick jacks to complete the race-ready details. The effectiveness of our approach was demonstrated when Gert Staub, the test driver from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center (Germany), brought the sights, sounds, and smells of this historically important race car back to life on the Lime Rock track.
The artfully engineered details of this pre-war Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix car, along with Mr. Collier's commitment to authentic preservation, were a wonderful inspiration for us to do our work with similar passionate precision.