Starting the 1909 Blitzen-Benz, UNEDITED, @ Pebble Beach Concours dElegance
The Blitzen-Benz was purpose built to do just one thing, to break speed records (not racing), and it did repeatedly from 1909 through 1911.
(Edited version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga2HtUHzUuw )
Its speed of 228.1km/h (141.73mph) on April 23rd, 1911, driven by Bob Burman at Daytona Beach, stood as a record until 1919. Twice the speed of the fastest airplane, (12 April, 1911, Alfred Leblanc @ 69.442mph/111.801kph in a Blériot Blériot) and even shattering the record speed of 210km/h set by a locomotive in 1903.
This record was not even officially broken in an airplane until 1920!
Of the six originally built, this is one of only two that exist today, and is displayed at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
While the extended and nuanced effort required to start the Blitzen-Benz on a cool coastal morning can try the patience of some viewers, its historical significance and ground-breaking engineering brilliance still place it amongst the greatest motor-vehicle achievements of all time, and the dozens witnessing this effort felt it was one of the highlights of many great moments at Pebble Beach Concours dElegance 2011.
Heres a great collection of vintage and modern images of the Blitzen-Benz and other historic speed record contenders:
displacement 21500 cc / 1312.0 in³
bore 185 mm / 7.28 in
stroke 200 mm / 7.87 in
power 149.1 kw / 200 bhp @ 1600 rpm
specific output 9.3 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 137.93 bhp per tonne