• THE 2008 EXHIBITION •
1908 FRENCH GRAND PRIX.
Christian Lautenschlager, the 1908 Grand Prix winner, was a Mercedes factory mechanic and not a professional race driver. Obviously, he must have had a lot of natural talent in order to win two of the most famous Grand Prix races of the time for Mercedes, in 1908 and 1914. The car you see here today is the only remaining 1908 Grand Prix Mercedes. At Brooklands in October of 1908, this Grand Prix Mercedes set a record for the Flying Start Half Mile at 103.62 mph. This is one of the team cars at Dieppe with an engine size of 155 x 170. According to factory records this Grand Prix Mercedes was to be driven by Lorenz, if needed. It survives today with all its original body panels, engine, and running gear intact, and is ready to race again.
This is the only remaining 1908 Grand Prix Mercedes of the team of cars built for the French Grand Prix at Dieppe. It was sold to C.R. Fry on July 15th just 8 days after the race. It then began a long career of racing at Brooklands setting its first record on August 8, of 1908 reaching a record 103.62 mph. It was then sold to Henry Tate (of Tate Galleries fame) who gave it to his son Arthur Wignall Tate for his 21st birthday. Tate raced the car until WWI. Directly after the war he put it up for sale in 1919. Carl Martin bought the car in 1920 and brought it to the Unites States. Martin sold the car to George Waterman in 1939 and I bought the car from Waterman in 1979. Unique to this car is the fact that it remains in original condition with all its original body panels, radiator core, engine, transmission, and chassis components. It is probably one of the most original Grand Prix race cars in the world and deserves the utmost respect and care…..for it is truly a masterpiece of old-world craftsmanship. Dr. George Wingard
Mercedes in first, Benz in second and third place – the two German companies had the winners' rostrum all to themselves at the 1908 French Grand Prix. It was little comfort to the French Grand Prix organizers that one domestic Bayard-Clément ended up fourth – the reason for organizing the Grand Prix had been to demonstrate the dominance of the French automobile industry. The "Grand Prix" category was still young – just two years earlier, in 1906, France hosted the first race in the elite class of motor racing. Although other events with international participation also took place that year, the Grand Prix was regarded as the direct continuation of the Gordon Bennett Trophy races which had been held since the turn of the century. The racing formula determined the key features of the cars: curb weight including fuel, lubricants, cooling media at least 1100 kilograms, maximum cylinder bore 155 millimeters, weight of driver and co-driver together at least 120 kilograms – and only they were allowed to make repairs to the vehicle.