Have Mercedes got their history wrong?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mercedes claim the “silver arrows” livery revealed today, which their W01 will race with this year, harks back to a famous episode in the team’s history:

The legacy of the Silver Arrows goes back to the 1934 Eifel Race when, on the evening before the event, the white paint was sanded off the Mercedes W25 race car to fulfil weight regulations (750kg formula) and the silver colour of the aluminium surface of the car appeared.

It’s a story that’s been repeated many times about the marque’s famous cars.

The problem is not everyone agrees it’s true. Historian Eberhard Reuss dug up several pieces of evidence that dispute the story in his 2006 book “Hitler’s Motor Racing Battles: The silver arrows under the swastika”, including these two:

On 18 January of that year [1934] their only available works drive, Manfred von Brauchistch, had already embarked on the first serious test-drives of the W25 in Italy: “During the winter months the engineers and mechanics had worked tirelessly to assemble a miraculous single-seater. I was selected to do the first test-runs of this dazzling silver machine.”

The paint-scraping account is a good story but it does sound more like myth than fact. What is not in doubt is that the pre- and post-war Mercedes were devastating machines which the opposition could not compete with – whatever colour they were painted.

If you’re interested in the early history of Mercedes and Auto Union racing cars, ??Hitler?s Motor Racing Battles?? is definitely worth a look.

Read more: Mercedes launch 2010 livery (Pictures)