To drive a Silver Arrow is an honour.
1934 marked the beginning of a new era in motor racing history: the W 25 won victory in the Eifel race. The unprecedented string of successes of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows continues to this day.
It was a simple idea in 1934 that made silver the colour of racing success – success that persists through today. It all began on the eve of the Eifel race at the weighing station on the Nürburgring. The regulations allowed no vehicle to weigh more than 750 kilograms. The brand new W 25 weighed one kilogram too much however. Alfred Neubauer, manager of the Mercedes-Benz racing team, had the white paint ground off, leaving a purely aluminium body that sparkled in silver. The next morning Manfred von Brauchitsch took his seat at the wheel of the lightened, 750 kg car and won the race with a commanding performance. Later he was to tell the press: “To drive a Silver Arrow is an honour.”
Victory followed upon victory, and soon everyone was talking about the Silver Arrows, which were not given this name until later. The Silver Arrow legend was born, originating in the story of the “scraped off paint” and in an unrivalled series of successes.
Shortly after the war-related interruption of racing ceased, it was again gleaming Silver Arrows and brilliant drivers who were ahead of their time in motor racing – first and foremost, Juan Manuel Fangio in the W 196 R Formula One car in 1954 and 1955. After a 40-year absence from Formula One racing, the Silver Arrows again won the World Championship in 1998 and 1999 with Mika Häkkinen capturing the title.
The string of successes continues to this day: in 2008, Lewis Hamilton, in a McLaren-Mercedes, became the youngest World Champion in the history of Formula One to date. The following year saw Jenson Button win the World Championship title for Mercedes-Benz partner team Brawn GB, now MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS. In the 2012 season, Nico Rosberg’s victory in the Chinese Grand Prix was the first win by a Silver Arrows works team since that of Juan Manuel Fangio at Monza in 1955.
What exactly makes the Silver Arrows so exciting and fascinating is hard to say. Is it their continuous success? Their superior power? Their incomparable engineering? Their matchless shape? Or is it the colour that makes the spirit of the most famous racing car a talisman for the most courageous drivers of a period? Presumably everything together – plus passion.