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The Globe and Mail

In pictures: The fastest car transporter of the 1950s

When Stirling Moss scored his first Grand Prix victory in the British Grand Prix at Aintree in 1955, becoming the first Brit to do so, the Mercedes-Benz team he was driving for had at its disposal the world’s fastest race car transporter, The Blue Wonder, which could cruise at more than 100 mph with his W196 GP car strapped on its open rear deck

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It was a big day for Brit fans at Aintree when Moss finished ahead of teammate Juan Manuel Fangio, but it was to prove even more memorable for one in particular. Jim Hayes – now of Georgetown, Ont., but then an apprentice tool and die maker – was on the pillion of a pal’s very fast Vincent Black Shadow on his way home to Blackpool after watching Moss win when a Mercedes-Benz juggernaut blew by on the North Lancashire Road. “And we were flying. It looked great, very streamlined and that one car on the back.”

Daimler AG

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No wonder Hayes describes he and his mate as being “awestruck” by the experience, at the time there was nothing like the MB car-hauler on the road, most teams making do with more prosaic and certainly slower transport, although Moss’s early hauler might have been an exceptional example.

Daimler AG

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It was fast, with a top speed of 170 km/h, although not likely with a race car aboard. It created a sensation on the roads of Europe when it appeared in mid-1954.

Daimler AG

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It featured boosted drum brakes plus a disc-brake on the propeller shaft, along with suitable springs and shocks as it was going to have to handle while going fast.

Daimler AG

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When a resurgent Mercedes-Benz decided to get back in the racing game, it did so with the same level of domination in mind its big-budget Silver Arrows team had created in the 1930s. Behind the effort was legendary Alfred Neubauer, who had become Mercedes’ racing manager in 1926.

Daimler AG

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It was Neubauer’s full-court-press approach to racing that led to the creation of a super-fast single-car transporter that could rush a newly modified racer to the next event, or return one that had suffered mechanical or crash damage for rapid repair.

Daimler AG

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He handed the job to MB’s test and prototype department, which started with the X-frame from a 300S Roadster and extended it at each end, fitting double-wishbone front suspension and a swing-arm setup at the rear.

Daimler AG

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The going-fast part was handled by installing a fuel-injected 3.0-litre inline-six borrowed from MB’s new 300SL Gullwing sports car, detuned a bit to 195 hp for reliability, and likely improved torque. Plus a four-speed all-synchro gearbox.

Daimler AG

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The transporter’s unusual front-end treatment with its dramatically overhung cab was based on the structure of a 180 sedan.

Daimler AG

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It looks almost like a cab and trailer, but is actually all one piece with the rear car deck stretching back to aero-curved rear fenders.

Daimler AG

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Overall length was 6,750 mm, or 1,100 mm longer than a Chevrolet Suburban and about the same width, but its height of 1,750 mm is 200 mm lower. Weight was just under 3,000 kilograms and the color MB blue.

Daimler AG, press department/Daimler AG

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