Beads of perspiration were dripping off the faces of the Mercedes-Benz mechanics. Their sweat-inducing task on 2nd June 1934 sounded simple enough, but it was all the more strenuous for that: the two brand-new W 25 racing cars had to lose their top coats of white paint and their lead undercoats.
Several sheets of emery paper and a lot of elbow grease later, the two Mercedes-Benz cars gleamed resplendent in their all-new matt aluminium silver look. Thus the Silver Arrows first saw the light of day!
Triggering this extra shift for the mechanics was a rule change made in 1932. That was when the predecessor of today’s FIA – the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus (AIACR) – drew up a new rule for the 1934 season.
This dictated a maximum kerbside weight of 750 kilos for the car, minus tyres, fuel and driver. The regulation was to remain in force until the end of 1937 and was the basis for the construction of the Mercedes-Benz W 25.
However, on the afternoon of 2nd June, the situation had not looked at all promising – the official in the paddock had revealed that both W 25s were one kilo over the permitted weight. Although the race was not run to the 750 kg formula, Mercedes-Benz were determined to meet the new limit in order to race the car in a configuration representative of the new rules.
The only outside possibility was to remove the white paint from the aluminium body of the W 25. This had been added to comply with the tradition that German manufacturers sported a white livery, the Italians red, the French blue and the British green.
The W 25 made its race debut on 3rd June 1934, on the Nürburgring. Manfred von Brauchitsch took victory, cheered on by some 300,000 fans. The Silver Arrow had won its first ever race. A legend was born.