Silver Arrows at the Louwman Museum

Historic Racing

For the first time ever, Mercedes-Benz have lent their Silver Arrows cars to a museum outside of Stuttgart.

Following their appearance at the Goodwood Revival, the cars from the manufacturer’s racing heyday of 1934-39 are being exhibited at the Louwman Museum in The Hague, Netherlands. The display started on October 11 and will run through January 6 and features their W25, W125, W165, W154 and the W25 speed record car, the first Stromlinienwagen. Rudolf Caracciola achieved 372kph (231mph) on the Frankfurt-Darmstadt Autobahn in this car in 1936.

When Mercedes and their equally intimidating rivals Auto Union burst onto the Grand Prix scene in the ’30s, the impact was immediate and far-reaching. With the world’s greatest drivers, government backing and – even by today’s standards – massively powerful engines, the Silver Arrows changed the way Europe went racing. Only the great Nuvolari could match them in his outmoded Alfas, but by the late ’30s he was an Auto Union driver himself.

Rodney Walkerley described the effect the cars had on the British fans and journalists when they descended on Donington for the first time in 1937:

“Far away in the distance we heard an angry, deep-throated roaring – as someone once remarked, like hungry lions impatient for the arena. A few moments later, Manfred von Brauchitsch, red helmeted, brought a great, silver projectile snaking down the hill, and close behind, his team-mate Rudolf Caracciola, then at the height of his great career. The two cars took the hairpin, von Brauchitsch almost sideways, and rocketed away out of sight with long plumes of rubber smoke trailing from their huge rear tyres, in a deafening crash of sound. The startled Pressmen gazed at each other, awe-struck. ‘Strewth,’ gasped one of them, ‘so that’s what they’re like!'”

The Louwman Museum houses one of the world’s great car collections, so if you can make the trip you won’t be disappointed. Alongside their astonishing range of vintage road cars, the history of racing is well represented, featuring everything from a 1903 Napier to Toyota’s 2009 F1 car. Take a look at their site here.

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