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82/200 hp D&E Snutsel Touring
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  Benz 82/200 hp D&E Snutsel Touring

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Country of origin:Germany
Produced in:1913
Numbers built:six
Designed by:D&E Snutsel Pere & Fils
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:September 18, 2006
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIt is still hard to argue against the popular moniker 'there is no replacement for displacement', but it was never more relevant than in the early years of motoring. While little has changed in internal combustion engine design, the early engines were far from refined and ran on rather crude fuel. Limited in particular by crankshaft strength, few engines were able to rev over 2500 rpm and even for racing engines 3000 rpm proved to be a real barrier. With no limitations on displacement until 1914, the easiest way to increase performance was to increase the bore and stroke of the engine. Of course with the displacement growing to humongous figures, there was little need to try and achieve high revolutions and most of the early Grand Prix cars produced their peak power at around 1500 rpm.

Germany's Karl Benz might have invented the motor car, the pioneering role in motor racing was taken up, with considerable success, by the French. So it was no surprise, that when Benz decided to get into racing, a team of French engineers were hired to design a Grand Prix car. The fruit of their labours, the Benz 'Grand Prix' debuted in 1908. The 12.8 litre four cylinder engine produced a hefty 120 bhp, which was transferred to the wheels through a chain drive system. Impressed by the top speed of 160 km/h, Benz decided to modify the racing cars to try and beat the land speed record. The puny four cylinder engine was replaced by power plant almost twice its size, which was usually only used to power airships. It powered the 'Blitzen' Benz to a stunning 228 km/h land speed record; a rather frightening speed considering the only method of slowing down was through one drum brake on the transmission input shaft.

Benz' road cars of the day had slightly more modest engines because the consumption of 40 litres of fuel per 100 kilometer was something the average customer was willing to finance. In the same year the 12.8 litre racer took to the track, Benz introduced a new range of road cars, which had a 2.4 litre four cylinder '10/18 Hp' as the base model. At around twice the price the 7.4 litre four cylinder '29/60 Hp' was also available. In 1912 the range was further expanded with the '39/100 Hp' and '82/200 Hp' models, which featured 10 and 21 litre airship engines respectively. The biggest of the two was the same as used in the 'Blitzen' Benz and produced 200 bhp, making it one of the most powerful road cars available. The top speed was quoted at 170 km/h and like the racing cars, braking was rather primitive. It was the last and most extreme vehicle of motoring's pioneering era as with advances in technology engines rapidly decreased in volume.

Featured is one of these very rare 200 bhp road going monsters equipped with an impressive four seater convertible body by Belgian coachbuilder D&E Snutsel Pere & Fils. This car was very successfully raced at Brooklands with this body, but without the fenders, running boards, top and windshield. Remarkably much of the original aluminium body was preserved with the exception of the running boards and fenders. After a three year ground-up restoration, the very rare Benz made its 'debut' on the lawn at Pebble Beach. It is seen here at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance where it grabbed a lot of attention and was received top honours in the class for 'Antique Through 1915'.

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