Rare Historical Audio Clips From Rudolf Uhlenhaut Famed Mercedes-Benz Designer, Engineer and Creator of the Famous W194 300SL Racer.
Rudolf Uhlenhaut joined Mercedes-Benz in 1931. Working with and under Dr. Fritz Nallinger on the development of the Mercedes 170V, Uhlenhaut eventually assumed leadership of the race car department. Auto Union dominated the 1936 Grand Prix season over the aging Mercedes-Benz W25 and Uhlenhaut was determined to change this. A very talented driver in his own right, he was able to spot the deficiencies of the chassis and suspension current race car models, however he never raced competitively as his skills were more advanced in engineering. The replacement for the Mercedes-Benz W25, the Mercedes-Benz W125, remedied the chassis and suspension shortcomings and was much more powerful. The W125 dominated the 1937 Grand Prix season, and was considered the most powerful Grand Prix car until the turbocharged cars of the early 1980s. In 1938 rule changes necessitated a new car for 1938 Grand Prix season, the Mercedes-Benz W154.
In 1952, Uhlenhaut designed the Mercedes-Benz W194 “300SL” race car based on the Mercedes-Benz W186 limousine. The underpowered car achieved surprising success, winning important sports car races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and inspired the road-going Mercedes-Benz W198 “300SL Gullwing” of 1954.
The Mercedes-Benz W196 won the F1 Championship in 1954 and 1955. Uhlenhaut surpassed even Juan Manuel Fangio’s times in test sessions.
Based on the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR sports cars racer of 1955, Uhlenhaut created a road legal race car with gull wings. Capable of 290 km/h, this [Uhlenhaut Coupé] was regarded as the world’s fastest car in the 1950s, and it is rumoured that, running late for a meeting, Uhlenhaut exploited the unlimited-speed autobahns to make today’s two-and-a-half-hour journey from Munich to Stuttgart in just over an hour.