Development of the record-breaking Benz 200 hp started in 1909 at Benz & Cie. in Mannheim under the guidance of Victor Hemery. The starting point for the new vehicle was the Benz 150 hp racing car. By enlarging the bore to 185 mm, the displacement of the 15.1-litre engine was increased to a substantial 21.5 litres. The unit produced up to 147 kW (200 hp) at 1600 rpm. The four-cylinder in-line engine consisted of cylinders cast together in pairs, and weighed 407 kg. It had overhead inlet and outlet valves as well as two spark plugs per cylinder. The engine’s power was transferred to the rear axle by a four-speed manual transmission via an idler shaft and chain.
Berna Eli “Barney” Oldfield was born on June 3, 1878 in Wauseon, Ohio. He started his racing career with bicycles, and by 1894 he had already won several medals from bike races. Everything changed in 1902 when he met Henry Ford, who had prepared two race cars which were knows as the 999 and the Arrow.
In May, 1902, Henry Ford and Tom Cooper, along with several assistants, began building two race cars. These cars were later named as 999 (painted yellow) and Arrow (painted red). Originally, the two cars could be differentiated by their intake manifolds. The 999 had right-angle bends in the runners, while the bends in the Arrow’s manifold were more gentle and curving, which made this car the faster of the two. However, parts and paint were swapped between the two so often that precisely which car was which became obscured.