The start of the Silver Arrow era.
A sublime racing debut.
On 3 June 1934 the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows heralded the start of an impressive era. The new W 25 Grand Prix racing car took part in its first ever race – the International “Eifelrennen”, or Eifel Race, at Nürburgring – and won. Driver Manfred von Brauchitsch set a new record and played his part in Mercedes-Benz’s successful motorsport history. The W 25 from 1934 and its successors earned the designation “Silver Arrow” due to their unmatched speed and signature paint finish of exposed, polished aluminium. These sleek racing cars were to dominate European motorsport until 1939. How did this come about?
In the beginning there was a vision.
In 1933 Mercedes-Benz made the landmark decision to design its own racing car (designated number W 25) according to the 750-kilogram race formula that applied from 1934 and to send it out onto Europe’s racetracks. The engineers worked flat out on the concept for what the company hoped would be a winning car of the future. With a slim body, a front-mounted, mechanically supercharged, inline eight-cylinder engine, individual wheel suspension and a transmission mounted directly on the rear axle, the intention was to bring home motorsport titles. The results were impressive and the plan to triumph on the racetrack did not appear to be too ambitious. With an output of 260 kW (354 hp), the car reached top speeds of around 300 km/h in its first season.
A clear goal came into view around Alfred Neubauer who was to lead the W 25's six-strong racing team into pole position. The team also included the drivers Rudolf Caracciola, Luigi Fagioli, Hanns Geier, Ernst Henne and Manfred von Brauchitsch.
The 750-kilogram formula.
In autumn 1932 motorsport's governing body in Paris unveiled a new formula for Grand Prix racing, which took effect two years later: all racing cars were to weigh no more than 750 kilograms excluding fuel, oil, coolant and tyres.
This limit was based on the assumption that only lightweight engines could be installed in lightweight vehicles and that this would therefore limit the racing cars' output and speed. However, the motorsport association underestimated advances in technology. The 750-kilogram formula applied from 1934 to 1937 but during that short time Mercedes-Benz was able to double engine output.
Writing race history.
The new Mercedes-Benz racing car’s first major appearance should have been at the Avus race in Berlin. This plan was thwarted by technical problems. That is why the W 25 made its début a week later at the International Eifel Race. Until one day before the Grand Prix, this legendary racing car was painted in traditional German racing white – and was a whole kilogram heavier. Overnight the mechanics ground off the paint to expose the bodywork’s metallic silver skin and a trademark was born. The driver at the wheel, Manfred von Brauchitsch, won this important first race and thus established the unrivalled success story of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows.
Even now, 80 years after that brilliant opening race, the W 25 and its successor models have lost none of their thrilling appeal. Every Silver Arrow combines innovative new design with outstanding engineering and has its own unique racing story to tell.