The Mercedes T80, the car mounted on the engine of a fighter with which Hitler wanted to reach 750 km/h

The museum of Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart preserves some of the most interesting gems of automotive history. Personally, I think it’s a must (whether you like cars or not) if you’re on a trip to Stuttgart. In fact, you can see the Benz Patent-Motorwagen there, with which Bertha Benz made the first long-distance journey by automobile.


From 1886 to 1940, barely 54 years had passed, but it had evolved so quickly that it is difficult to get an idea of ​​the state of progress of certain devices in their time. One of them was the Mercedes T80, a vehicle that intended to break a speed record which, at the time, already had the 595 km/h mark that John Cobb’s Railton Special had reached in 1939.

Since the beginning of the automobile industry, the struggle to obtain the fastest car has been a constant. At the border between the 19th and 20th centuries, the steam cars they reigned over those of combustion. And later the propeller cars they also tried to crack the deal.

But the passage of time has shown that the only way to get the fastest possible artifact was through two paths that had to coexist: install a huge engine and work the aerodynamics to the maximum. The result? The result is on a wall in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart and is called Mercedes T80

German speed fever

In the mid-1930s, Germany experienced a veritable speed rush. adolf hitlerencouraged to show the world the German technical power, proudly lived the birth of the Rekordwoche.

The Rekordwoche were, without a doubt, everything a German Dominic Toretto could wish for a century ago: a few days to show on the open road who had the fastest car. As soon as they leave the Autobahn, manufacturers prepare their cars to reach the highest possible speeds.

To get an idea, in his second edition in 1938, Rudolph Caracciola reaches the impressive number of 432.7 km/h in a flying kilometer. A speed that remains the highest in history on the open road (as opposed to a circuit or dirt road). The feat was achieved aboard a Mercedes W125, a fully faired bullet with a 5.6-litre V12 DAB engine, producing 736 HP.

This record was broken only in 2017, when Koenigsegg reached 444.6 km/h on public roads. His Agera RS needed 1,360 hp to overcome Caracciola’s feat. Nor was he beaten by this millionaire who reached 417 km/h on a highway. Sadly, the public speed fever ended the same day.

Just after the record set by Caracciola, Bernd Rosemeyer, the Mercedes driver’s rival for reaching the highest possible speed on public roads, launched with his Automatic union type C. Unfortunately, a gust of wind came at the worst time. At hundreds of miles per hour he lost direction, attempted to right himself, and was thrown off the road with fatal results.

Mercedes T80 on display

Mercedes T80 on display

One goal: to reach 750 km/h

This tragedy did not prevent Hitler from continuing to look favorably on imposing itself on the rest of the world as the absolute reference in maximum speed.

In fact, he injected 600,000 marks Daimler will develop the fastest car in the world. From the start, the best resources were put into the project, including the expertise of Ferdinand Porsche. The premise was clear: a huge engine was needed that would perform with the best possible aerodynamics.

As it was not about saving, it was decided that the Mercedes T80 mount the engine of a Messerschmitt Bf-109. Yes, a fighter plane. It was a 44.5-liter inverted V12 capable of generating 1,750 hp. The figure, however, was ridiculous with the 3,000 hp which Daimler engineers managed to develop, supercharging the engine with a huge supercharger.

Mercedes T80 in one of its tests

Mercedes T80 in one of its tests

Aerodynamics was the next point to discuss. The car had to be completely faired and the body had to provide enough support for the vehicle to keep it from spinning out of control. The cabin is placed in front of the engine (whose rear position has triumphed for years) and its structure is finally defined.

The result is a rocket 8.24 meters long, 3.20 meters wide and 1.74 meters with wings on the sides and a flat bottom to minimize its aerodynamic coefficient. Its weight of 2,896 kg seems little, considering that the engine already weighed 920 kg, to have a better idea, my car, a Fiat Grande Punto, weighs barely 200 kg more.

The business for the Mercedes T80 was enormous. In 1939, the Railton Special That of John Cobb had reached 594.97 km / h on a dirt road. The engineers calculated that the German bullet would crush this figure. With the right conditions, they didn’t expect to see the Mercedes T80 under the 750km/h.

But everything was suspended. Hitler, the main promoter of the project, ended up causing its suspense. World War II disabled the attempt to reach 750 km / h that just came out of the decade of the 1940s. And at the end of it, the engine had to be recycled to mount it in a fighter plane. Fortunately, the armor remained and the Mercedes T80 can be seen today in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.

Pictures | Wikipedia

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