isthisdave· Premium Member
Bullshit. The rally circuit in question did not even include North America.From The Ad said:This car was imported by Mercedes-Benz to North America for the purpose of Rally driving.
Mercedes W107 Details
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Mercedes W107 General Information
Mercedes was a team that absolutely didn't want to fit into the WRC. First the choice of car was a weird one. The 450SLC was absoltely the biggest thing Mercedes had on the market at the time. In fact it was a lovely car and it was good in endurance and African style events. But that was all it was any use at. The 450SLC was HUGE, HEAVY, and these words have to be written in capitals, because many cars could be claimed as too big and too heavy but the Mercedes topped them all! And they used a 5.0 V8 engine, which was powerful, but what a heavy lump that was. And it had automatic transmission, not sequential or anything fancy, automatic transmission like on granddad's road car - in a rally car! The whole package just was insane for its purpose, in a way a proof that Mercedes didn't understand what rally was all about!
And the way Mercedes acted on the events was the next issue. They had the biggest car with the biggest engine and they made everybody feel Mercedes money was a currency on its own. At times when Ford and co were winning World championships with relatively simple, straight forward cars, Mercedes invented service by helicopter! The servicing layout Mercedes had in place probably cost more than all cars of all teams in the WRC together! Several times it was reported that the budget Mercedes had per event was more than Ford and Fiat had for the whole season. And Mercedes' motorsport boss at the time Erich Waxenberger was a bit of an extrovert. Everything had to revolve around him and the make he represented. In the Acropolis 1980 one of his cars got stranded in a stage, so Waxenberger got into the service van, broke through the barriers, drove down the stage(!) to rescue his car as if no other team was existing in this event, and he subsequently crashed head on into the competing Escort of Jorge Recalde! During the Safari 1980 when Arne Hertz injured his hand, everybody around told Waxenberger that a navigator could not be replaced. But Waxenberger wasn't having any of this, he got into Arne's seat, told Hannu Mikkola to get moving, and at the finish line of the next stage the obvious and easily avoidable disqualification was executed!
The eventually best trick of Mercedes came when they wanted to compete for the WRC titles in 1981. They wanted a star line up and signed the reigning World Champion Walter Röhrl and Ari Vatanen for a full program. Then with days to go before the first event of the season Mercedes pulled the plug and - while Ari could return to his old, private team - the reigning WRChamp Röhrl was stranded without a drive as a result.
Mercedes claimed the withdrawal was a result of not getting the marketing effect they wanted, getting bad press and they were unfairly treated by everybody. They had a point because in WRC terms they were a very young team and as unlikely their rally car may have been, they got some decent results. Although in the African and long distance events, Bandama, Argentina, Peugeot gave them a hard time, Mercedes was a podium finisher on the Safari, they won the Bandama twice and the (non-WRC) Argentina once. Not bad for a pretty new team. It was just this attitude of Mercedes that led to the problems. They were the richest team by far, throwing millions at the sport and the opposition and press was enjoying the fact that this didn't guarantee them wins, often for basic mistakes. When Mercedes serviced by helicopter, delivering a brand new rear axle to the break down scene of a Mercedes and the new rear axle would fall and shatter into pieces as soon as it hit the ground, the whole rally World was rolling on the floor for laughter and pointing fingers at Mercedes with huge satisfaction. The same would happen when Mercedes entered the 1980 Rally Portugal and finished 44 minutes off the pace and when Mercedes entered the 1980 Acropolis with a 4 car team, only one would finish and that would be down in 14th place.
For everybody involved in the sport it wasn't quite clear if you should be happy or not with Mercedes' presence. On one site they tried to kill the sport with their money, on the other hand they turned the laughing stock for everybody. Rally New Zealand 1980 was probably the best example for the mixed emotions Mercedes created. It is no good to have one flood light equipped helicopter per car to light out the night stages if you forget to put petrol into the cars - as happened to Mikkola for SS1! On the other hand the situations came to that extreme that you had to feel sincerely sorry for Mercedes and their after all very enthusiastic team boss. On the same Rally NZ Björn Waldegaard had an off, really minor stuff, hardly worth a mention, had Björn not collected a prick fence in the process. The barbed wire wrapped around the front rim and the rear driveshaft and caused both right hand wheels to block. Erich Waxenberger came in with the helicopter and ripped the prick wire off with his bare hands! Ouch! Waxenberger's face was covered in pain, but it was not physical pain, it was the pain of the most heart moving desperation you could imagine! However, in the summary of things, despite Waxenberger's 11/10 score for enthusiasm, the satisfaction that money could not buy results was the overriding feeling for everybody, and exactly that was made very public!
No wonder Mercedes didn't enjoy their stay in the WRC. The 450SLC was actually a characterful, big, unusual and somehow lovely sight on the rally stages, but you can rest assured that nobody is really missing them after their display between 1978 and early 1981.
Mercedes*W107 Details : Rallye-Info.com
Mercedes*W107*450SLC 5.0 Specifications & History : Rallye-Info.com
Mercedes*W107*500SLC Specifications & History : Rallye-Info.com