The return of the Silver Arrows


Something quite extraordinary has been announced.

An event that no motor racing enthusiast can afford to miss, that nobody ever dreamed would actually happen. Beg, borrow or steal the cash to be there.

The Silver Arrows will race again. Yes, the real ones, the original Silberpfeil, not the cars that are painted silver and described as ‘silver arrows’ by creative marketing departments these days. We are talking pre-war Auto Unions and Mercedes-Benz, last seen in action in the 1930s when men were men and motor racing was horribly dangerous.

The last time we in Britain saw an Auto Union race a Mercedes-Benz was in October 1938 when Tazio Nuvolari (above), in an Auto Union D-type, won the Donington Grand Prix from Hermann Lang (below) in a Mercedes-Benz W154 with Dick Seaman third in another W154. These cars made their final race appearance at the Yugoslavian Grand Prix in September 1939, the day after war broke out in Europe.

True, Mercedes was back in 1954 with the W196, but the Auto Unions had gone and Juan Manuel Fangio, having forsaken his Maserati 250F in mid-season, won the World Championship for Mercedes-Benz, a feat he repeated in 1955 before winning two more in ’56 and ’57 with Lancia-Ferrari and Maserati respectively. But that is another story for another day.

Your chance to see the Silver Arrows driven at race speed on a circuit comes in September when the Goodwood Revival will stage a ‘demo’ race for which both Merc and Auto Union have entered their priceless cars. This is surely a sight not be missed, even if the drivers are advised that an all-out, fully fledged race would be a step too far for such valuable racing cars. Competition in this demo race will come from the more frequently seen cars of Maserati, ERA, and Bugatti. A mouth-watering prospect, no?

We will see Auto Union types C and D, and from Mercedes the W25,W125, W154 and W165. We are still waiting for details of who will have the privilege of being in the cockpits, but you can be sure they will be tried and trusted friends of the Merc and Audi museums. Surely Hans Stuck Jnr will be in the frame for one of the Auto Unions. Goodwood, just as it was in its heyday, will be the perfect place to see these mighty machines in action, howling down the straights or drifting through the long, sweeping corners of this genuinely unspoilt racing circuit.

I make no apology for waxing lyrical about this extraordinary happening. If you’re not sure what I’m raving about, there are films of these cars racing in period on the internet. Alright, we won’t see cloth caps and shirtsleeves, but these cars are a handful however the drivers may be dressed. Word is that the Silver Arrows will have their own special place in the paddock so that we, the fans, can get a really close look at some of the most exciting Grand Prix cars ever made. You may have seen them run on the Goodwood hill at the Festival of Speed but you ain’t seen nothing yet.

When the Silver Arrows came to Donington (above) the crowd, more used to watching Rileys, MGs and ERAs, was astounded by the power and speed of the German cars Built with little regard for cost, the silver cars dominated Grand Prix racing from 1934 to the outbreak of war in 1939. More recently, when a BRM V16 raced at an early Revival, grown men were reduced to tears. It’s going to be that kind of occasion. And, depending on the outcome, this may well be the first, and last, time you will ever see an Auto Union race a Mercedes-Benz on British soil. Start saving your pennies now.

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