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The Rivals: A Golden Moment in Grand Prix History

April 14, 2015 Events, In the News, Museum

Revs Institute Opens Its First Multi-Media Exhibit
The Rivals: A Golden Moment in Grand Prix History

(Naples, FL) April 14, 2015  — This week, The Revs® Institute for Automobile Research, Inc., Naples, FL, opens its first multi-media exhibition The Rivals:  A Golden Moment in Grand Prix History, which runs through November.  It demonstrates an epic David and Goliath battle through the legendary Mercedes-Benz W196 and the Lancia 50, two of the most beautiful and technically sophisticated Grand Prix cars of their time. Both of these fabled race cars will be part of the exhibition. The Mercedes-Benz is on loan from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Hall of Fame museum, while The Revs Institute is the Lancia’s permanent home.

Their battle represents one of the golden moments in racing history:  the 1954-1955 Grand Prix season.  This epic story comes to life through words, display cases, period images, and video and sound, creating a multi-media experience of superb quality.

“This intimate exhibit is part of Revs steady approach to bring forward its belief that the automobile is the most important technological object of the 20th century,” says Scott George, Vice-President of Revs, “Whether the visitor’s interest lies in history, technology, visual appeal, racing personalities, plain curiosity, or simply being in the presence of greatness, The Rivals exhibit offers a unique educational experience.”

The David and Goliath battle is depicted throughout the European race circuits used for the 1954-1955 Grand Prix season.  Goliath was the race team of Germany’s Mercedes-Benz. Its weapon was the brilliant W196 Formula 1 car, with its high revving desmodromic valve straight-8 engine.  David was Italian, his initials D50, his slingshot designed by the legendary Vittorio Jano and notable for the pannier fuel tanks stretching between front and rear wheels.

Mercedes-Benz had recovered sufficiently from World War II to begin racing sports cars in 1952 and by 1954 was ready again for Grand Prix competition.  Not surprisingly, Mercedes’ entry, the W196, was a technical triumph. By contrast to huge Mercedes-Benz, Lancia was family owned and operated. Yet the Italian’s desire to create a winning Grand Prix car was no less than the Germans.  Like the W196, the Lancia’s D50’s construction breathed quality and as with the German car that quality was costly…and David’s downfall.

They met first and battled at the Spanish Grand Prix, the final race of 1954.  The scene was set for 1955.  Their battle continued, but tragically was cut short by the death of Lancia’s lead driver Alberto Ascari, and Lancia’s mid-season bankruptcy, which resulted in the D50’s  being deeded to Ferrari.  After winning the 1955 championship, Mercedes pulled out of Grand Prix racing in response to that year’s terrible Le Mans accident and wouldn’t return until 2010.

All this plays out again at The Revs Institute from April to November. The Revs Institute for Automotive Research presents this exhibition, as part of The Collier Collection of over 100 of the most influential automobiles ever created. The collection is open to the public Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Advance Reservations are necessary. Docent led tours are available.  To make reservations please go to:   Or for more information, call: 239-687-REVS.

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Keith Grey

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One Response

  1. Leonard Zapala

    I enjoyed reading about the W-196 vs. the D50. The only thing I might have added was that the W-196 was the end of the line in racing tech and the D50 was pointing towards the future. The Merc was a space frame with an in-line 8 with mechanically operated valves. The D-50 was semi-monocoque with the motor as a stress member. Jano’s staff wanted the D50 to be full monocoque with disc brakes! Jano thought that went too far.

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