Mercedes 170H – VW & Porsche owe it alot – Blast from PW’s past

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Many people forget that Ferdinand Porsche used to work for Adolf Hitler, who at the time was the head man behind Daimler-Benz, Auto Union and any other technically advanced manufacturing company in Nazi-Germany. However the Daimler-Benz 170H clearly shows how Ferdinand used influences from one company and implemented them to another as well as how influential the Daimler Benz 170H was in terms of design and engineering for 2 of the most famous automotive designs in history; the VW Type1 and the Porsche 911.

To understand the 170H though, you must first learn a bit of German automotive history. The predecessors to the 170H were developed in the early 1920’s, a Designer & manufacturer known as Rumpler worked closely with Daimler-Benz back then & in 1929 a race car with swing axles and a rear engine could be seen racing around Europe, but even while using some racing technology from the Rumpler designed racer, in 1933 Daimler-Benz tried miserably at a slightly over simplified peoples car. The 1933 130H was too small, handled poorly, was severely underpowered and looked absolutely horrid. Daimler-Benz scrapped the 130H after only 2 years of production and started to concentrate on 5 central-engine roadster which (purposely?) took up most of their time for the next few months during which Hitler told Ferdinand Porsche to hurry up with his prototype of the peoples car. 2 years later, with mounting frustration, Ferdinand Porsche’s failed attempts at making a prototype for the peoples car, Hitler returned to Daimler-Benz and ordered them to expedite the KDF prototype cars into production, the 170H being one of them. 170Hs came with high grade leather, radios and an overdrive on the export models and cheaper to manufacturer coil springs replaced the smoother and more reliable but longer to assemble torsion bars of the 130H.

Sadly even with the launch of the somewhat desirable 170H Cabriolet limousine (open-top) the 170H never did as well as expected and Ferdinand Porsche had finally come up with suitable working prototype cars (which used alot of technology from both the 130H and 170H) and Hitler finally ordered them into production as Damiler-Benz was starting to move more upmarket.

As you have read above, technically the 170H gave life to the VW Type1, or should I say the VW Beetle is a redesigned 130 & simplified 170H. Daimler-Benz wanted a cheap car to sell to the masses to help Nazi funding & to mobilize Germans. Sadly (for DB) when the 170H was launched, many MB loyalists turned their nose up to it, but with a different badge attached to it and Hitlers “Volkswagen” was born instead.

Ferdinand Porsche later went on to once again improve on the technology he had seen & used in the rumple race car, the 130H the 170H and the VW type1 and implemented the finer and more technically advanced items in his new car and company; Porsche, but before he departed the Daimler-Benz Factory he left a flat-4, air-cooled engine of his Humble VW type1 on the roof of the factory, where it still runs, turning the huge 3-pointed star which is a symbol of reliability and quality till this day.

Wheelbase: 2600mm
Track (Front): 1315mm
Track (Rear): 1270mm
Length: 4200mm
Width: 1580mm
Height: 1600mm
Kerb Weight:1125kg
Fuel Capacity:40 litres
Bore x stroke: 73,5mm x 100mm
Cylinders: 4 – inline
Displacement: 1697c
Type: Side Valve
Breathing: 2 Valves per Cyl
Aspiration: Natural
Compression: 6.0:1
Fueling: 1 SO Carburettor
Power: 38hp@3400rpm
Specific Output: 22.4hp/L
Torque: 74lbs/ft@1800rpm
Coolant: Water
V/Max: 110km/h
Engine location: Rear
Engine Alignment: Longitudinal
Drive: RWD
Steering: Rack & Pinion
Transmission: 4M

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  1. WOW-dude says

    In 1923 Porsche Sr. became head of the design office and sat on the
    board of management at Untertürkheim Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) at
    Stuttgart. On 12/28/1928 the Austro Daimler Puchwerke Aktiengesellschaft group
    formed weakening Porsches position. Porsches relaxed management style, the
    failure of truck models, decline of gas-electric vehicles, and financial
    liabilities caused the non-renewal of his employment (fired) contract. Porsche Sr. became Technical Director to failing Steyr-Werke AG in
    01/1929, but again forced out in 04/1930 by an Austro-DaimlerPuch merger into
    Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG, the interest group that fired him in 1928.

  2. WOW-bud says

    WOW-dude is correct, I ran this down. Can’t find much credibility in the 170H story.

    Brief Ferdinand Porsche
    Employment Overview:

    tenure at Austrian/German Daimler Motors Partnership Company is just 6 years
    before ties are severed with Diamler Stuttgart.

    tenure at independent Austrian Daimler Engines AG is 11 years.

    tenure at Daimler Benz AG is just 3 years.

    tenure at Steyr Werke AG is just 1 year.

    starts his own company in 1931 and begins working for Hitler in 1934.

    Porsche works
    for the Third Reich 11 years until 1945 and dies at age 76 in 1951.

    His influence
    at Diamler-Benz (Mercedes) was minimal.

  3. Angus Young says

    Man you are way off base. There is no shred of truth to your claim. For
    one thing, Ledwinka’s signature car, the car that set the pattern for
    subsequent models, was the Type 11 of 1923. It was the first commercially successful application of the central tube frame. This design is over ten years ahead of Porsches 1937 VW (Beetle) KDF-Wagen.

    Daimler-Benz continued designing small cars. Hans Nibel designed with Josef Ganz consulting on the four door 130H sedan in 1931. Eventually, the car premiered at IAMA 1934 with all wheel independent suspension, rear-mounted, water-cooled 79in³ engine. 4,298 vehicles were built during 1933-36. The car drove well on German roads of the era and its ride quality was above anything in Germany. Porsches drew up nearly identical Backbone chassis KDF-Wagen resulted in Hitler ordering KDF test bed cars. Impatient with slow Porsche productivity Adolf Hitler ordered thirty Volkswagen test prototype KDF Wagens built and assembled by Porsche GmbH, Daimler-Benz, and other body work specialists. Once Adolf Hitler’s mind was made up, it was nearly impossible to change it. If anyone
    dared challenge his decision or judgment, he became very angry and went into a rage, preventing any discussion. The final draft KDF version is very close to a combined but, extremely cheapened DB 1931-120H, 1934-130H and 1936-170H. Again the 170H design was not just designed but, built ahead of Ferdinand Porsches KDF-Beetle.

    This is just part of the story. Daimler Benz built some KDF Wagens simply
    because Hitler has a good friend of old man Mercedes and DB had the facilities
    to quickly build them. DB was in no way influenced since their car designs were
    built prior to Porsches KDF/Kubel.

    Today’s Stuttgart Company finds it insufficient to celebrate the achievements
    of Ferdinand Porsche Sr. without claiming priority for him. “Porsche has to
    have done it first.” Stories can vary dramatically from one Porsche published tale to the next. This is regrettable because it debases the company’s communications and credibility of
    source material. Of course because the Porsche Company says it, many writers and editors think it must be true. Porsche must be the reliable source of information about their products or are they? Concepts and designs were appropriated by Porsche as the foundation for
    the VW KDF-Wagen. The Porsche family continues to have a massive body of acolytes closely guarding their footprints on history.

    Please study the well documented facts before simply writing what you feel is
    correct. It makes us all look bad for referencing or quoting such off base material.

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