Mercedes Benz W196 Silver Arrow is probably the sexiest race car in the history of car racing. I have had a lifelong dream to see one in the flesh. Last week I had the opportunity to grope one and I also got the chance to see the car start up after the mechanics had made it ready for racing again – see for yourself in video above.
The history of the Silver Arrows started with the W25 and a race in 1934 at Nürburgring. The car weighed in at 751 kg and the mechanics got the idea to strip the car of the white paint to get it below the 750 kg limit. During those years each country had their own racing color. Britain had green cars, the french where blue, the italians red and the german cars where white. In 1934 the Mercedes crew stripped off the white paint and presented the car naked in it’s shining silver aluminium body. The history is complete when the car won the race and the nickname Silver Arrow where established.
In 1937 Mercedes Benz presented the W125 which held the record of being the most powerful racing car in history, with it’s 646 hp, until the Formula 1 cars during the mid 1980s. In controlled speed tests this car reached above 400 km/h (249 m/h) back in 1937.
The Monza body, also called the Streamliner, was the first edition of the Silver Arrow W196. It was a fast car on the straight stretches of a racetrack, but it did not handle turns very well so it was quickly rebuilt for Formula 1. By almost removing the whole body of the car it won the next races as Monoposto.
During the 1954 and 1955 seasons Mercedes ended their racing commitment with the Silver Arrow W196 Monoposto. Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss won 9 out of 12 races these seasons. And they also on the world championship both seasons. After this there would be 30 more years before Mercedes went back to racing in the Formula 1.
These car have a reputation for being extremely difficult to handle. Since the cars are so valuable Mercedes only let a handful of very experienced drivers enter the car. When the cars entered Goodwood 74th, a historical car race, it was Mika Häkkinen behind the wheel.