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80 Years Ago – The Birth of the Silver Arrows

80 Years Ago – The Birth of the Silver Arrows

A new racing formula introduced in 1934 saw maximum weight for cars limited to 750 kg [less driver, tyres, fuel and fluids], forcing manufacturers to become ever more creative in their designs. It was here that Mercedes excelled with the introduction of the W 25; a machine that made a dominant start to this golden era.

With its streamlined form and powerful engine, the W 25 set a new standard on the track. At first showing, the 3.5 litre, 8-cylinder, 4-valve power unit produced a mighty 354 hp, propelling the driver to speeds in the region of 300 km/h to the tune of a distinct whistling sound from the all-new pressure carburettor. Hydraulic brakes, independent front and rear suspension, all coupled with a shell built around the engine made this the envy of the racing community.

Similar to the Targa Florio – an event at which Mercedes had enjoyed spectacular success ten years previously with Christian Werner – the Eifelrennen formed a landmark event in the automotive calendar; its challenging course weaved through the Eifel mountains, tackled by the latest high performance machines on both two and for wheels. By this stage in history, the day of the gentlemen racer had passed as motor racing evolved into an organised, ultra-competitive sport contested by leading manufacturers; amongst them, Mercedes.

The 1934 instalment of the Eifelrennen – held on 3rd June and staged on the Nürburgring circuit – gave birth to a story upon which the Mercedes brand built its reputation amongst motorsport’s elite. As famously recounted by former Team Director Alfred Neubauer, legend has it that – on the eve of the race – the W 25 was found to be 1 kg overweight, and was thus stripped of its traditional white paint to match the regulations. After taking a dominant victory and setting a new lap record on its debut at the hands of Manfred von Brauchitsch, the silver shine of the bare aluminium shell would form the basis for the name ‘Silver ‘Arrows’; a title bestowed upon the W 25 some time afterwards.

From here the success of the W 25 would continue to build, with notable victories for Rudolf Caracciola and Luigi Fagioli across a variety of prestigious motor racing events across Europe; the latter further underlining the car’s performance by setting a raft of speed records during winter of that same year. Taking a total of 16 victories in major competitions between 1934 and 1936, the W 25 cemented Mercedes at the pinnacle of international motorsport.

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