Careful attention to detail: the replica of the Avus in Berlin on 30 May 1937.

Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows: a living legend.

The visual revival of legendary racing situations, by Jan Rambousek and Playground.

Photos: Jan Rambousek (Photographer) und Petr Milerski
  • Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows: a living legend.

  • The birth of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow.

    A cloudy day in June 1934. A white racing car, a Mercedes-Benz W 25, stands on the grounds of the Nürburgring. Two men approach, one gesticulating wildly with his hands and the other putting on gloves and pulling a spatula from his trouser pocket. He kneels down gently in front of the car and begins scraping the paint away cautiously. The sun peeps out from behind the clouds, making the car’s silvery aluminium surface glisten from under the layer of paint.

    A few hours before the German Grand Prix race, on the instructions of Alfred Neubauer, who was in charge of the race team, a technician carefully scraped the top coat of paint off in order to reduce the weight of the W 25 and keep it within the weight limit of 750 kilogrammes. Thus an eternal symbol was created.

    Precision-engineered replica.

    2014 is the 80th birthday of the Mercedes-Benz W 25, the legendary “Silver Arrow”. To celebrate the event, photographer Jan Rambousek and Creative Director Tomas Kopecny were inspired to create an unusual series of documents. As there was hardly any original material still in existence from the time when the Silver Arrow was born, they spent months collecting as much text, photographic and film material as they could find.

    Photographer Jan Rambousek and Creative Director Tomas Kopecny working on the Silver Arrow project.

    They had one single aim in mind: to reproduce historic situations perfectly and accurately down to the smallest detail. From the design of the vehicles, the scenery and the original venues to the spectators’ clothes, their aim was to provide as authentic a picture as possible.

    The Making-of.

    Endless scribbles were made around the Silver Arrow story.

    Scribble. Sketch. Model.

    From design to realisation: this aim meant scrupulous preparation and full concentration on creating the final result. Along the way they made endless sketches and plans documenting how the twelve computer-generated photos were created. From scribbles and sketches to 3D graphics, Jan Rambousek and Tomas Kopecny spent endless time and effort considering as many details and fine touches as possible. The historically accurate portrayal of the Grand Prix was aided by entire spectators’ stands they had built, crowds of people and 3D models of Silver Arrows.

    Hundreds of helpers.

    To make the pictures as realistic as possible, Rambousek and Kopecny called on the support of hundreds of extras who posed at the original locations in the attire of the time. Most of them were delighted to take part. In between takes, snacks and food were served. Even the youngest participants enjoyed being in on the project as they were able to admire many a classic car at the shooting – even though the legendary Silver Arrow was added subsequently via “green screen”.

    Film extras, dressed in authentic clothes of the time, with umbrellas in the sunshine.
    The virtual venues, created with a 3D program, were put together with the pictures of real people.

    High-tech collage at the highest level.

    Using old photographs, the former venues were recreated for the stage of the Silver Arrow – first in two and then in three dimensions. The photographic manipulation was perfected by combining the honed 3D models with the real pictures of the film extras at the original venues.

    By means of photomontage, the transition was made allowing all the different media to flow together and thus with the aid of meticulous care create such an accurate, brilliant picture allowing the observer to get close up to the peak era of the Silver Arrow.

    Twelve Artworks.

    The special exhibition at the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014 was blessed with good weather and the many automobile classics on display were joined by the twelve fascinating photographic works on the Silver Arrow.

    Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014.

    In this anniversary year, the twelve lovingly created pictures of the Silver Arrows were displayed in a number of places: including on the lawn of the legendary Goodwood Festival of Speed, well known as a meeting point for lovers of motor racing. There, visitors were able to admire the masterpieces in a special exhibition and follow how the computer-generated pictures in tribute to the Silver Arrow were created. For further information, Contact Project Curator: Jun Okuma.

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