Scrape the Paint

17 June 2022

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

1934 marked the beginning of a new era in motor racing history: the W 25 won victory in the Eifel mountain race. The International Eifel Race of 3 June 1934 marked the first start and the first victory of the new Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow with the designation W 25.

The Mercedes-Benz W25 was a Grand Prix racing car designed by Daimler-Benz AG for the 1934 Grand Prix season when new rules were introduced and no championship was held. In 1935, the European Championship was resumed, and Rudolf Caracciola won it in a W25.

The International Eifel Race, held on 3 June 1934 at the Nürburgring, was dominated by the all-new Mercedes-Benz W 25 developed in 1933 for the 750-kilogram formula introduced in 1934. Manfred von Brauchitsch sealed the victory with an average speed of 122.5 km/h – a new track record.

The victory was almost outshone by the revelation of the new Mercedes-Benz racing cars taking to the track with their aluminium bodies in plain Silver rather than the classic racing White paint finish.

It was a simple idea in 1934 that made Silver the colour of racing success. It all began on the eve of the Eifel race at the weighing station on the Nürburgring. The regulations allowed no vehicle to weigh more than 750 kilograms. The brand new W 25 weighed in at 751kilogram. Legend has it, Alfred Neubauer, manager of the Mercedes-Benz racing team, had the white paint ground off, leaving a purely aluminium body that sparkled in Silver, that had a wight slightly under the 750 kilograms statutory weight.

The following day Manfred von Brauchitsch took his seat at the wheel of the lightened, 750 kg car and won the race with a commanding performance. The victory followed upon victory, and soon everyone was talking about the Silver Arrows, which were not given this name until later.

After the racing interlude due to the war, the gleaming Silver Arrows and brilliant drivers graced the podiums — Juan Manuel Fangio in the W 196 R Formula One car in 1954 and 1955. After a 40-year absence from Formula One racing, the Silver Arrows again won the World Championship in 1998 and 1999, with Mika Häkkinen capturing the title.

In 2020, Mercedes changed from its iconic silver livery to an all-black design. The change was to make a stand against racism and discrimination in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the United States and the worldwide protests that followed.

Also pledging to improve diversity within its team, Mercedes ran the black livery throughout the shortened season, with AMG branding replacing the star pattern on the engine cover, which faded to Mercedes’ traditional racing silver from the black base livery introduced in 2020.

For 2022, it has returned to the familiar Silver.