Benz 75/105HP Prinz Heinrich Raceabout

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75/105HP Prinz Heinrich Raceabout





The car that Hans Nibel and Georg Diehl conceived for the Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt was remarkable for its advanced design. Its chassis used a live rear axle suspended with semi-elliptical leaf springs. It had torque tube shaft drive instead of the double chain drive then common on heavy, high horsepower automobiles. It had comfortable 4-passenger coachwork as required by the tour regulations, suitable for the demands of events like the 1,944 km of the 1910 Prinz-Heinrich tour. These were touring cars in the finest sense, intended for the titled and wealthy who valued both luxury and speed.

But it was the Prinz-Heinrich Benz's engine that was extraordinary. A dual ignition four-cylinder with bore and stroke of 115 x 175mm, 7,272cc displacement, at a time when a side valve T-head engine was modern and a single overhead camshaft with inline valves, as Ferdinand Porsche employed in the 5.7 liter Austro-Daimler he designed, was revolutionary. The Prinz-Henry Benz had four overhead valves per cylinder, inclined with an included angle of 45-degrees to form a tidy pent roof combustion chamber. The valves were actuated through short pushrods and rocker arms by separate camshafts located at crankshaft level on each side of the engine.

Brake horsepower output for the biggest 7.3-liter Prinz-Heinrich was 105 horsepower (it was also built in two smaller versions of 35hp and 80hp), a tremendous number for the day in a road-going automobile.

Its inclined overhead valves clearly showed the trend of high performance engine design and may have influenced the fertile imaginations of "The Charlatans", as well as being a tangible demonstration of the possibilities of the dual overhead camshaft engine in their presentation to Robert Peugeot.

It must have been incredibly expensive to build and remained available for only a few years, passing from Benz records after 1912 and never showing any influence upon subsequent Benz road cars.

It was, however, in both performance and appearance, an ideal mount for Barney Oldfield whose recognition owed so much to the "Blitzen Benz".

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