Motoring Trailblazers - The Mercedes Supercharger

Sat 4th May 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

The Mercedes Supercharger
Turbocharged vehicles may have taken motoring to a brave new world of speed and engine refinement, but the technology of adding a huge injection of power to an engine was nothing new to the Mercedes designers of the 1920s.

With their ‘Kompressor’ models, Mercedes and their 6/25/40 hp and 10/40/65 hp were first conceived by Paul Daimler, a son of Gottlieb Daimler, a man who is already celebrated in this series.

The Kompressor models utilised Roots blowers, a concept from the USA which had previously been used to produce win for blast furnaces, which compressed the thin air at altitude and produced a combustible mixture for engines. Daimler Jr’s work testing air compressors was with the aim of increasing power outage and elasticity of motor vehicle engines.

These supercharged engines were first showcased at the Berlin motor show in 1921, but it was on the race track that the new engine technology would ultimately be put to the test. Mercedes entered a challenging endurance race in Sicily, retrofitting a six-cylinder 28/95 hp with a compressor, the company also put two completely new 1.5 supercharged engines on the track and the rest is history.

Mercedes and their ultra-powerful engines dominated the motoring scene during the 1920s, with the compressor changing to Kompressor to ensure that the distinction was made when thinking about which company came up with the concept.

After enjoying a halcyon era during the 1920s and 1930s and was then given a rebirth in the 1990s when Mercedes-Benz gave a range of vehicles the legendary Kompressor badge to showcase a range of supercharged models.