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Mercedes Remembers First Major Win Against Auto Union

It took a 1-2-3 victory at the 1938 French Grand Prix

Mercedes took a 1-2-3 victory in the 1938 French Grand Prix

In modern Formula 1, if you had only one lap to set a fast time, you would have to choose the MercedesMercedes-BenzMercedes-BenzGermany, 1924 > present197 models
9900 photos
33 videos
. In eight races this season, it has set the pole position five times. Mercedes mastery of fast racers goes back to the very beginning of the company. The Mercedes-Benz name was coined at the “Nice Racing Week” in 1901.

In the 30s, Mercedes was making a name for itself as a Grand Prix team with the famous Silver Arrows. In 1938, Mercedes took a major victory at the French Grand Prix at Reim on July 3 when its W154W154 Motortyp M 154 GMercedes-Benz W154 Motort...Germany, 1938 > 19381 photo
racer finally beat the rival German Auto UnionAuto-UnionAuto-UnionGermany, 1932 > 19647 models
12 photos
team with their Type DType DAuto-Union Type DGermany, 1938 > 19395 photos

Mercedes not only beat Auto Union, it took a 1-2-3 finish with drivers Manfred von Brauchitsch, Rudolf Caracciola and Hermann Lang. It was also the first race of the year that delivered points into the European Championship.

The W154 was Mercedes’ first twelve-cylinder racing car. Its 3.0-liter supercharged engine produced 425-475hp depending on the race and used a five-speed manual transmission.

The race was the debut of the Type D, but both cars dropped out on the first lap, which only left two Talbot T150CTalbot-Lago T150C Competi...France, 1936 > present cars, a Sefac and a Bugatti T59/50BType 59 GPBugatti Type 59 GPItaly, 1933 > 19331 photo

By the end of the 1938 season, Rudolf Caracciola would emerge as European Champion.

“The cars are like capricious prima donnas. They won’t take just any oil or fuel and they are even more fastidious where spark plugs are concerned,” said Alfred Neubauer, Mercedes racing boss of the period, recalling the W154.

After the war, the W154 has a second, odder chapter of its history. Chassis number 9 was found in Czechoslovakia, and it was sold to an American racer. In 1947, he entered it into the Indianapolis 500. It set the second-fastest qualifying speed but retired from the race. It was re-entered in 1948 but retired again. It was sold to another racer in 1949 who installed a simpler straight-six engine, but it did not qualify. One final attempt was made with the car in 1957 with a JaguarJaguarJaguarUnited Kingdom, 1922 > present53 models
2188 photos
16 videos
engine, but it also failed to qualify.

W154 Motortyp M 154 GW154 Motortyp M 154 G
181 cu in
Top Speed
205 mph
Maximum power
483 hp @ 7800 rpm
Fuel consumption (combined)
annual ownership cost




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