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The Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow race car made history 90 years ago

The white Mercedes-Benz W 25 was too heavy, so it lost the paint and won the race

Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow W25 single-seat race car on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Mercedes-Benz Museum / Mercedes-Benz Museum

Mercedes-Benz has a rich history of legendary cars on and off the track. The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing may be the German brand’s most famous road car ever. The single-seat Mercedes-Benz W 25, also called the Silver Arrow, was the first of many race-winning cars with the same name. Even today, Mercedes Formula 1 cars are called “Silver Arrows,” but the original 1934 Silver Arrow set the standard for the Mercedes-Benz racers that followed. It’s been 90 years since this race car made its debut at the Eifel Race at the Nürburgring on June 3. Let’s take a look back.

Why the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow race car matters today

The Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow W25 single-seat race car won the Eifel Race in 1934.
Mercedes-Benz Museum / Mercedes-Benz Museum

The W 25 wasn’t supposed to be silver. Actually, as was the case for most German racing cars, the W 25 was painted white. At the mandatory weigh-in before its first competition at the 1934 Eifel Race at the Nürburgring on June 3, 1934, however, the car was one kilogram heavier than the 750-kilogram limit. According to Mercedes-Benz lore, the night before the race, the team ground the paint of the W 25’s aluminum skin. When the car rolled to the starting line, it was the correct weight.

Spectators expecting a white race car were surprised to see the color change. However, the Silver Arrow nickname stuck when Manfred von Brauchitsch set a new track record with an average speed of 122.5 kilometers per hour to win the race in its initial competitive outing.

The Mercedes-Benz W 25 Silver Arrow: Features and specifications

Behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow W25 single-seat race car at the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Mercedes-Benz Museum / Mercedes-Benz Museum

Even today, the W 25’s mechanicals sound impressive. The original Silver Arrow had a supercharged 3.4-liter in-line eight-cylinder M 25 A engine that produced 354 horsepower at 5,800 rpm. With the M 25 A engine, the W 25 had a maximum top speed of up to 300 kilometers per hour (186 mph). The car’s hood also had quick-release fasteners to facilitate access for any necessary work or adjustments during races. Then, as now, quick pit stops could be the difference between winning and losing a race.

The W 25 Silver Arrow is on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. The W 25 and other silver race cars are in a room fittingly named “Silver Arrows—Races and Records.”

Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow W25 single-seat race car in training for its first race in 1934.
Mercedes-Benz Museum / Mercedes-Benz Museum

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Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Cars teams. He also writes technology news…
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