|1911 Mercedes 37/90 in the garage of a friend.|
This particular car is has been suggested to be the Mercedes that Ralph De Palma owned and campaigned from 1912 through 1914. However, according to the owner at the time, this is not the case. According the factory records this car has always been a touring car and has never been raced. It was a 1908 chassis modified with the new 37/90 engine that famously quite on De Palma in the 1912 Indy 500 where he and Jeffkins (his riding mechanic) pushed the car to the finish. De Palma would win the 1912 and 1914 Vanderbilt Cups - earning the national drivers championship in both years - in a car similar to this. The 1914 Vanderbilt cup was one of De Palma's greatest achievements - the 1914 race was the first Vanderbilt Cup to be held on the west coast (Santa Monica) and it was here that De Palma beat his rival Oldfield. The Horseless Age of March 4, 1914 described the race as follows: "The 1914 contest for the Vanderbilt Cup will go down in motoring history as being one of the most thrilling and sensational road races ever run in this country...There is a long story back of the ill feeling between Oldfield and De Palma...DePalma in his Mercedes, the same car with which he won the Vandebilt race at Milwaukee in 1912, really rubbed in the lather and close-shaved Oldfield, in the Mercer..."
The car pictured herein has a wonderful history that includes ownership by James Melton, the famous opera singer and early collector. The only De Palma connection to this car appears to be seen below when he drove this car at a VMCCA meet in CT back in the 1950s. I photographed the car in the late 1980's before it was sold to Europe. The car has since been restored and was shown at Amelia Island in 2011 - I don't know who owns the car today.
|Ralph De Palma driving the Mercedes when owned by James Melton (photo credit: ebay member mixa11)|
|The ex-Melton Mercedes today (photo credit: Richard Owen)|
|De Palma wining the 1914 Vanderbilt Cup (photo credit:|
|photo credit: The Horseless Age, March 4, 1914|