The Mercedes Benz Silver Arrow W 154 in Tripoli.

The legendary triple victory in Tripoli.

75 years ago the Silver Arrow won a triple victory at the Tripoli Grand Prix.
  • The legendary triple victory in Tripoli.

  • In a class of its own: The twelve-cylinder Silver Arrow W 154.

    Dazzling heat and dust-like fine sand in every pore. At speeds in excess of 200 km/h the headwind was immense and the track was one of the most dangerous worldwide at that time with 40 laps, each 13.1 km in length. Accompanied by the thunderous cheering of the local population, Hermann Lang conquered them in a then very spectacular time of 2:33:17.14 hours. This was the second time he won the Tripoli Grand Prix and in 1939 he would prove to be the first and only driver to win this gruelling Grand Prix for a third time.

    Hermann Lang receives the victory prize for the second time running in 1938.
    Hermann Lang receives the victory prize for the second time running in 1938.

    Thanks to its perfect design, the twelve-cylinder Mercedes Benz W 154, dominated the season with seemingly no effort at all.

    The Mercedes Benz W 154 racing cars crossed the finishing line in the order shown on the photo: Hermann Lang with starting number 46, Manfred von Brauchitsch with starting number 44 and Rudolf Caracciola with starter number 26.

    In 1938 a new rule applied for Grand Prix vehicles: From then on, the so-called three litre formula only allowed a displacement of a maximum of three litres for racing cars with mechanical turbocharger. Cars with a naturally aspirated engine were not allowed to exceed 4.5 litres.

    Three litres. Three drivers. Three victories.

    These new stipulations meant that a completely new vehicle had to be developed. Rudolf Uhlenhaut, head of technology at the time, accepted the challenge and, for the first time, designed a Mercedes Benz racing car with a twelve-cylinder engine: the legendary W 154. Thanks to the maximum output of 453 hp (333 kW) that this engine was capable of achieving, the new Silver Arrow with an even more streamlined body won a triple victory in Tripoli where Manfred von Brauchitsch took second place and Rudolf Caracciola third. Again at the French and Swiss Grands Prix in the same year, the Mercedes Benz team managed a triple victory with the W 154 and, thanks to this legendary season, ensured that the fascination for the vehicle remains undiminished 75 years on.

    Three litres. Three drivers. Three victories.

    These new stipulations meant that a completely new vehicle had to be developed. Rudolf Uhlenhaut, head of technology at the time, accepted the challenge and, for the first time, designed a Mercedes Benz racing car with a twelve-cylinder engine: the legendary W 154. Thanks to the maximum output of 453 hp (333 kW) that this engine was capable of achieving, the new Silver Arrow with an even more streamlined body won a triple victory in Tripoli where Manfred von Brauchitsch took second place and Rudolf Caracciola third. Again at the French and Swiss Grands Prix in the same year, the Mercedes Benz team managed a triple victory with the W 154 and, thanks to this legendary season, ensured that the fascination for the vehicle remains undiminished 75 years on.

    The Mercedes Benz W 154 racing cars crossed the finishing line in the order shown on the photo: Hermann Lang with starting number 46, Manfred von Brauchitsch with starting number 44 and Rudolf Caracciola with starter number 26.

    In 1938 a new rule applied for Grand Prix vehicles: From then on, the so-called three litre formula only allowed a displacement of a maximum of three litres for racing cars with mechanical turbocharger. Cars with a naturally aspirated engine were not allowed to exceed 4.5 litres.

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