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Silver Arrows

From Academic Kids

de:Silberpfeil

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Silver Arrow – 1939 GP

Silver Arrows was the name given to Germany's dominant Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union Grand Prix motor racing cars between 1934 and 1939, and also later applied to the Mercedes-Benz Formula One cars in 1954/55.

For decades until the introduction of sponsorship liveries, each country had its traditional color in automobile racing. Italian race cars are still famous for their Rosso Corsa red color, English ones are British Racing Green, French blue, etc.

The origin of the silver arrows was accidental. The international governing body of motor sport prescribed for 1934 onwards a weight limit of 750 kilograms for formula racing cars. When the Mercedes-Benz team placed its new car on the scales in spring 1934, it recorded 751 kg. Racing manager Alfred Neubauer and his driver Manfred von Brauchitsch were at first baffled, before hitting on the idea of scraping all the white paint from the bodywork. The shining silver aluminium beneath was exposed, the silver arrow was born, and the weight limit reached.

In 1937, the unlimited capacity, supercharged engines attained an output of some 600 horse power (450 kW), a figure not exceeded until the early 1980s, with the appearance in Formula One of turbo-charged engines. These cars reached speeds of well over 300 km/h in 1937.

The superiority of these vehicles in international motor racing established the term "silver arrow"; as a legend. The names Rudolf Caracciola, Bernd Rosemeyer, Hermann Lang, and later Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio, will for ever be associated with the eras of these racing cars, which were so superior to their rivals.

Mercedes-Benz recalled its great past in 1997, introducing silver as the colour of the McLaren-Mercedes racing cars from then on. Other German companies, like Porsche and BMW, still favour mainly the traditional white.

Further reading

  • Chris Nixon, Racing the Silver Arrows: Mercedes-Benz versus Auto Union 1934-1939 (Osprey, London, 1986) pp. 30-37, 164-168

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