1911 Mercedes 37/90 HP Labourdette Skiff

1911 Mercedes 37/90 HP Labourdette Skiff

Mercedes continued to use the chain drive for their new top of the line model in 1910, despite having introduced shaft drive on the small four cylinder model in 1908. The engineers probably thought the bigger engines produced too much torque for the shaft drive to handle. To deaden the sound of the noisy chains a fully enclosed oil bath was fitted on the new 37/90 hp of 1911. Driving the chains was a massive four cylinder engine, that replaced the 'six' previously used.

Designed by Paul Daimler, the new engine featured three valves per cylinder; one big intake and two smaller exhaust valves. The valves were actuated by pushrods, propelled by two lateral camshafts. Unlike previous engines, which usually consisted of multiple blocks, the new unit was a single block of four cylinders. Displacing just over 9.5 litres there was nothing subtle about Daimler's 'four'. Peak horsepower was produced at 1300 rpm and although the torque figure is not quoted, it would be safe to say it's massive!

More than anything the 37/90 hp was intended as a tourer, so it featured a comfortable chassis. Its engine's potential was displayed in the 1912 and 1914 Vanderbilt Cup, where American racing legend Ralph de Palma drove a 1908 Grand Prix car equipped with the 37/90 hp engine to victory.

For 1913 Mercedes introduced minor modifications to the engine and chassis. Power rose to 95 bhp, which resulted in a change of type indication to 37/95 hp. The front and rear track were also slightly widened. In 1914 the 37/95 was replaced by the 38/100 HP model, which was equipped with an even larger engine. With the outbreak of the First World War, production of the 38/100 HP halted, the last of the chain driven Mercedes tourers.

Featured is an early 37/90 HP model, fitted with Labourdette's trade mark wooden skiff body. It is pictured here at the 2004 Meadowbrook Concours d'Elegance.

Descriptions & pictures by mercedes-benz-publicarchive & ultimatecarpage & daleadamsenterprises & benzspirit & automotorpad & flickr

Production Start 1911
Country of origin Germany