What an interesting motor journey you have taken me on. The W154
Silver Arrow was the darling of Mercedes racing enthusiasts in 1939,
but a change did take place. Early in the year, the W154 had a V-8
engine which was later replaced by the M163 V-12 (to be replaced even
later by the W165 V-8). The V-12 version (the key to your quest) was
designated the W154/M163. The sport of racing stopped for the duration
of the war but after the war, the V-12 was mistakenly called the W163
(rather than M163). Therefore, I believe what you are actually looking
for is the W154 chassis with a M163 V-12 engine.
"There is some question as to whether the W163 can even be called a
separate model from the W154 since the 163 actually refers to the new
M163 engine which was also used on the W154 for the 1939 season."
Here is a photo of the W154/M163 V-12.
I was unable to find photos of the engine online, but there are at
least some available in books. You can find the following two books
for sale on http://www.abebooks.com :
1) Ludvigsen, Karl. THE MERCEDES-BENZ RACING CARS.
Newport Beach, California: Bond/ Parkhurst Books, 1971
There are photos of the M163 engine (in and out of the car) - thanks
to bookseller Scott Emerson for checking his copy for me.
Note from Scott:
"Thanks for the inquiry. There are photos of the M163 engine in and
out of the car, on a stand. There are only two that I can find. There
are a number of mentions of the car as well as some photos. I saw no
mention of the "Silver Arrow" but I suspect this must be the one. It
looks like it. Let me know if you have any other questions."
Scott Emerson, Scott Emerson Books
2) Scott-Moncrieff, Nixon, Paget.
THREE-POINTED STAR: THE STORY OF MERCEDES-BENZ CARS AND THEIR RACING
Cassell & Co. Ltd. 1955
There is one photo of the M163 in a car - thanks to bookseller Chris
Briston for checking his copy for me.
"Mercedes-Benz was therefore looking for a way to improve the
performance of their 3-litre W154 cars. The solution was multi-stage
supercharging. A larger primary blower was situated to the right and a
smaller secondary blower to the left, both running at a speed of 1.25
of the crankshaft.
The manufacturer also decided to built a completely new engine, the
M163, using the experiences gained by the M154. The new engine had a
stronger design that solved the M154's heavy oil consumption. The
compression was higher and the fuel injection features that had been
included in the M154 design were missing. Four of the new engines were
built and used together with the older engines during the season. The
M163 engine created confusion in the motor books, as the car after the
war became incorrectly known as the W163. The correct name was still
W154 as it was in 1938."
"Incorrectly known as the W163 in most motor books, the 1939 cars
featured a new body on the old chassis. The saddle tank now had a
volume of 185 litres and the rear tank 235 litres giving a total of
420 litres! Seaman's fatal accident at Spa proved the risk in running
with such a fuel load. The outer edges of the brake drums were
redesigned so that they worked like fans blowing cool air through the
brakes. The radiator was of a new design, giving the car a smaller
During the season multi-stage supercharging was introduced with the
larger primary blower situated to the right and the smaller secondary
blower to the left, both running at a speed of 1.25 of the crankshaft.
A new constuction enabled the carburettor to be programmable with
extra jets being opened at chosen throttle settings.
The two stage supercharger was used by Lang at the Eifelrennen and
proved victorious first time out. For the Belgium GP the new system
was found on Caracciola's, Lang's and Seaman's cars. During the middle
of the season there were a series of engine failures, before the
problem was located. It turned out that the Zusatzvergaser could
stuck in an open position. That drenched the plugs and cylinders with
the piston rings and making the engine to fail.
For the season a new engine was built. Featuring the same volume as
the M154 the M163 was a more strong design that solved M154s heavy oil
consumption. The compression was higher and the fuel injection
features were missing. The M163 engine was used by von Brauchitsch at
Eifelrennen and the Belgian and Swiss GPs, by Brendel in the German GP
and by Lang at the Swiss GP and at Beograd."
"The Mercedes M154 was built in response to the new formula for 1938
which specified a maximum capacity of 3,0000 cc for super-charged
engines and 4,500 cc for normally aspired cars with a sliding minimum
weight scale. The engine for the new car was a 60° V-12 with 48
valves, twin Roots superchargers and no less than nine oil pumps!. The
engine used a special fuel mixture which contained methyl alcohol,
nitrobenzene, acetone, and sulfuric either. The car consumed about a
liter of fuel for every kilometer (2.8 mpg) traveled. The W154 carried
more than 400 liters (88 gal) of fuel in two tanks, one in the tail
and the other between the driver's seat and the engine. Some of the
fuel was actually used to cool the pistons. The stroke was shortened
to allow for maximum piston area while boost was increased to 2.2
Now for the fun part - can you imagine my excitement when I clicked on
a sound clip and actually heard the engine of the W154/M163? I
couldn't believe it! You can hear it too by taking the "Virtual Tour"
at the Mercedes-Benz Museum Stuttgart. Work your way through the
building - I believe the W154 is on the third floor. After you click
on the car, click on "Play Sound" to listen to the Audio file.
"Mercedes Benz W 154
Formula Race Car, 1939
Bore: 67 mm, Stroke: 70 mm
Displacement: 2962 cc
Output at 78000 rpm:
357 KW (485 hp)
Top speed: 320 km/h
The new racing formula introduced in 1938 limited the displacement of
supercharged engines to three liters. This led Daimler-Benz to develop
the W 154, using the experience derived from many years of successful
racing with the W 25 and W 125 models. This car won six major
international races in 1939."
Mercedes-Benz Museum Stuttgart
Telephone: +49 (0) 7 11/17-2 25 78
Fax: +49 (0) 7 11/17-5 11 73
The Mercedes-Benz W163 was produced from 1939 to 1951.
There is a W154 race car with the M163 engine at the Technical Museum
"This 1938 Mercedes W154 race car has been "well used". It has a 3
litre V12 engine (M163) with 2-speed supercharger and produced 468 hp
@ 7800 RPM. Its top speed was 330km/h (over 200 MPH). It is in the
Technical Museum in Prague."
"12-cylinder racing car Mercedes-Benz W154/M163 of Rudolf Caracciola
or the worldwide oldest preserved car of the brand AUDI. The
automobile collection of the National Technical Museum contains about
120 cars, of which about one third are displayed for the Museum
visitors at the permanent exhibition."
"Inventory at the factory turned up two M154 V-8 engines and two M163
V-12 engines, all essentially complete. Two W154 chassis were there
also. Two more complete W154 cars with M163 engines were found on a
used car lot in Berlin! A trade was negotiated for a brand new 170V.
With this nucleus of race cars, Alfred Neubauer felt bold enough to
try his team in the Argentine Grand Prix in February."
Technical Data: M163:
Mercedes W154 race log:
"It is an interesting footnote that the May 7, 1939 Tripoli GP at
Mellaha was held to 1939 Italian rules, making it essentially a 1500
cc "voiturette" event. Mercedes-Benz surprised the racing world by
slightly modifying (physical appearance to W154/M163 was similar) the
1939 W154/M163 design to create the W165, powered by a new 1500 cc V8
"Incorrectly known as the W163 in most motor books, the 1939 cars
featured a new body on the old chassis.
Engine: M154 V12 60° 67*70mm 2962cc 4 valves/cyl two-stage Roots
Grand Prix 1939: Part I: Introduction:
Mercedes-Benz continued with their W154 car (Note 1) with a new
streamlined bodywork and fuel tank distribution that made the car
almost 100 kg lighter. The greatest novelty was the two stage
supercharger that added some 30 BHP. To better the cooling of the
brakes Mercedes-Benz developed new drums with integral cooling fans. A
new V12 engine known as the M163 was constructed and used late in the
Grand Prix 1939: Part II: XIII° GRAN PREMIO D'TRIPOLI
Grand Prix 1939: Part III: XII ADAC EIFELRENNEN
Grand Prix 1939: Part IV: VIII GRAND PRIX DE BELGIQUE:
Grand Prix 1939: Part V: XII GROßER PREIS VON DEUTSCHLAND:
Grand Prix 1939: Part VI: VI GROßER PREIS DER SCHWEIZ:
"Mercedes-Benz used an advanced carburettor system with an "extra"
carburettor (known as the Zusatzvergaser) coming on in several
programmable steps at high RPMs. It turned out that the Zusatzvergaser
could stuck in an open position. That drenched the plugs and cylinders
with fuel destroying the piston rings and making the engine to fail."
Bill Noon of Symbolic Motors in La Jolla, Calif.,
(www.symbolicmotors.com; 1-858-454-1800) advises collectors to do
their homework before they start buying classic cars. He's standing in
his showroom beside a 1939 Mercedes-Benz W154/M163 Grand Prix, the car
that enjoyed the sobriquet "The Silver Arrow." It's priced at $12.5
Photo W165: 1939 Silver Arrow: Double victory of the 1.5 litre racing
cars in Tripoli:
The Brooklands Society Photo Archives
"So far about 450 photographs from an archive of thousands which has
been painstakingly assembled by a dedicated team of motor racing and
aviation historians over the last thirty years."...
..."The photographs in the Request Section have been entered in
response to specific queries. E-mail us if you have a particular
Brooklands related interest or request and then monitor this section.
We aim to search the archives and respond within seven days."
I hope this helps. If you have any questions or if this hasn't
satisfied your request, please post a clarification request before
rating my answer. I have sent several other enquiries concerning
photos in books and I will post the replies later if I receive any
Thank you - I hope you enjoy the audio,
Search Strategy Used:
w154 mercedes engine
w154 mercedes engine w163
M163 mercedes engine
"Daimler-Benz" "w 163" 1939
"Daimler-Benz" "w 163"
"Daimler-Benz"archival w 163
mercedes 1939 engine
Request for Answer Clarification by
07 Oct 2003 15:25 PDT
Hello again, hummer,
Here I was getting back to you and I find that you had already gotten
back to me.
After I sent off my last missive, I thought a bit and then realized
that, because of my own frustrations in pursuing a solution to my
problem, I felt that the reply I had sent was somewhat dismissive of
your efforts and perhaps, in the bargain, discourteous to you as well.
I have ordered the Ludvigsen book (express mail), copied some of the
photos in your findings - I already had a lot of the others - and then
told myself to just calm down, this is just a recreational endeavor,
not the pursuit of the Holy Grail.
I apologize for my too quick response to your earlier message and any
resulting but really unintended discourtesy to you it might have
I will now await the delivery of the Ludvigsen book believing,
especially in the light of your expanded description of its contents,
that it might very well be just what I'm looking for. However, if any
of your outstanding inquiries should have other pictures, perhaps even
in color, I would really appreciate learning of them as well.
By the way, as it relates to a comment in the first paragraph of your
response, the model I am working on is a W 163 (perhaps the new "body"
on the W 154 chassis as mentioned later on in your report) with the W
163 engine that evidently participated in the 1939 season.
Thank you very much for all your effort on my behalf. I think that
maybe the next model I undertake will be something in the order of a
1957 Ford - with a sealed hood, or, guessing, should I say bonnet.
Be well. And thank you one more time for your time and your help.
Clarification of Answer by
07 Oct 2003 16:32 PDT
You are very kind - thank you for everything, but especially your nice
note. Here I was worrying about how badly you felt and at the same
moment you were worrying about me! I was fine, there was no need to
apologize - I did feel your frustration and disappointment but knew I
had done all I could to help you.
I'm glad to hear you bought the book as I thought it sounded hopeful
too. We have another bookseller to thank, Mark Morris of Pooks Books,
and I was hoping to quote the message he sent to me but he has not
given me permission to do so yet. But he does deserve a big thank you
for his help and for his patience with me:
Pooks Motor Bookshop
Unit 4 Victoria Mills, Fowke Street, Rothley, LEI, United Kingdom, LE7
It might be worth your while to send him an email - he can tell you
about another book he has:
Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Racing 1934-1955
George C Monkhouse (1984)
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about the W163. I'm firm in my
belief that it is really the M163 you are working on. There weren't
two different V-12 motors used in 1939, only one. Early in 1939 they
used the V-8 and then switched to the V-12 later in the year. The M163
V-12 was put into the W154 chassis. I believe the "new body" that you
are referring to is a change in the body over the 1938 model. Why not
write to the museum and ask them about the W163 - they should be able
to shed some light on it. The W154 with the V-12 - referred to as the
W154/M163 - that'll be the one.
'49 Mercury, now there's a great car. I fell in love in that car and
we're still together to talk about it.
If you get a chance, please let me know how you make out with the
book. If anything else comes to light, I'll be back in touch.
Take care - may your silver arrow fly straight,