Jacksonville, FL — An unprecedented gathering of five Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows across two centuries of championship-winning competition will be on special display to celebrate the Silver Anniversary of the Amelia Island Concours.
The legend of the Silver Arrows began with the debut of the 1934 Mercedes-Benz W 25 Grand Prix racer and the racing rules that governed its maximum weight at 750 kilograms, or 1650 pounds — without fuel, lubricants and tires.
The new race cars, all weighed at the Mercedes-Benz factory, were in compliance with the weight limits, but the official scales at the Nurburgring for the 1934 Eifelrennen read 751 kilograms.
As Alfred Neubauer, Mercedes-Benz’s legendary racing team manager, considered his options to bring the cars into weight compliance, historic records suggest that it was mechanic Willy Zimmer who said, “The paint has to go.”
White is Germany’s official assigned racing color and has been since the days when Grand Prix cars raced for national honor rather than commercial promotion. The story goes that fine sandpaper and hours of labor removed the white paint from the silver skin of the W 25 racers until only the car’s wire wheels remained painted. The cars went to the grid in bare silver metal.
Whether the legend is true or not, from that race onward, the grand prix cars from Mercedes-Benz wore silver. The term “silver arrows” stuck after a Berlin newspaper’s headline boasted… “Brauchitsch [Mercedes’ winning driver] Fast As A Silver Arrow.”
The new W 25 won the Eifel Race at record speed. It was also prelude to the 200-mph-plus W 125 of 1937, as well as the 3-liter V12 W 154 of 1938 and 1939. Three years equaled three championships plus a haul of world speed records for Mercedes-Benz drivers.
When Mercedes-Benz returned to competition in the early 1950s following World War II, their new racers also wore silver, claiming victories at Le Mans and the Carrera Panamericana. Two Formula 1 World Championships (Juan Fangio in 1954 and ’55) and a Sports Car World Championship in 1955 joined Mercedes’ list of unparalleled prewar accomplishments.