The Mercedes-Benz T80 - A record car stopped by World War 2
How it all started in 1936
The man behind this idea was Hans Stuck, a famous german racedriver in the 1930’s who was known as the “King of the Mountains”, he is also the father of racing legend Hans-Joachim Stuck!
As he turned older he had more and more young competitors against him, even inside his own team - Auto-Union.
So he needed to do something that would set him again above all other drivers:
The land speed record
… with this words he went public and contacted the Daimler-Benz AG.
After long consideration they accepted his idea and sent it to the engineering firm of Ferdinand Porsche, the former chief engineer of Daimer and later creator of the most succesful sportscar producer in the world - Porsche AG. The work started in 1938. With the help of Ernst Heinkel, Reinhard von Koenig-Fachsenfeld and Josef Mickl he developed and designed the record car.
The team behind the Mercedes-Benz T80
From left to right: Ferdinand Porsche, Ernst Heinkel, Reinhard von Koenig-Fachsenfeld and Josef Mickl
Later the project’s got officially sanctioned by Adolf Hitler, who was surprisingly a fan of race cars. It was a great occasion for the Third Reich to use the planned record of the Mercedes-Benz T80 for propaganda to show the world how superior German engineering was.
The date of the record run was set to be January 1940, but this didn’t happen due to the beginning of World War 2 on September 1 in 1939.
Hitler personally called the car “Black Bird” and wanted to paint it in the German nationalistic colours including the eagle and swastika, but this thankfully didn’t happen and the car’s got garaged for the rest of it’s life until today where it stands in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.
The Beast itself
It is massive vehicle with over 8.2 meters (26 feet) of lengh and a weight of almost 2.9 tons (6385 lb)! The frame is made out of tubes and the streamline body from aluminium, which is extremly aerodynamic designed with additional wings for downforce and stability at higher speeds.
The T80 had a astonishing a drag coefficient of only 0.18 a really impressive number even by today's standarts.
It is a 6 wheeler with the 2 rear axles driven and has some really thin Continental tires as it was usual thing back then the brakes are 500mm (diameter) drum brakes. Stopping in this heavy and fast giant would be a nightmare!
At the beggining it was planned to use the DB-601 from the legendary Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighter, but later the team decided to use the much bigger and stronger DB-603 engine (which was a prototype at the time) (44.5 liters compared to the DB-601’s 33.9 liters)
The power output of the DB-603 was about 3000hp, but it could get increased up to 3500hp!
The first topspeed target at the beginning was set to 550kph, but later at end of the development the goal was about 750kph!
Here are a few photos of the T80 without the aluminium streamline body:
I hope that someday it gets restored and the real topspeed gets tested! What do you think about it?
Thank you for reading my post!