Rewind roughly 60 years and you’ll find yourself in a time when the Mercedes Silver Arrows dominated the world’s racetracks, from Formula One to the World Sports Car Championship. Though these Grand Prix racing cars are still delighting spectators today, their history stretches back to June 1934 and the début of the Mercedes-Benz W 25 at the Eifelrennen motor race held at the Nurburgring. Silver Arrow was the nickname given to the series of sleek silver machines produced by Mercedes, due to the colour of the cars, and undoubtedly the speed at which they travelled – by 1937 the W 125, for example, produced 646hp, a level that wouldn’t be reached again until the 1980s, and speeds often exceeded over 300km/h.
The 300 SLR Silver Arrow was the car in which the legendary Sir Stirling Moss won the 1,000 mile Mille Miglia. Moss, whose parents had foreseen a life of dentistry for their son, first took part in motor racing in 1948 when he entered Formula 3 with a Cooper 500. Moss took to racing like a duck to water – winning 12 out of 15 races. A year later he was racing in Formula 2 and became the British Formula 2 champion in both 1949 and 1950. A move to Formula 1 was the obvious next step, and Moss did so in 1954 in his own Maserati 250F. In a season that saw him finish in 13th place, the highlight was a head to head duel with Mercedes’ top driver, Manuel Fangio. For the final 12 laps Moss led the Spaniard until an oil line broke. Though Fangio went on to win, he paid tribute to the young Englishman as the real winner of the race. That same year, Moss signed for Mercedes-Benz for the 1955 season, driving the W 196 R Formula 1 racing car, and later the 300 SLR sports racer, taking fourth place in the first race in Argentina, as well as the chequered flag at the British GP at Aintree.
By 1937 the W 125, for example, produced 646hp, a level that wouldn’t be reached again until the 1980s, and speeds often exceeded over 300km/h.
Excelling in the 300 SLR, which had been specially developed for this season and was based on the W 196, he also triumphed in the 1,000 mile Mille Miglia, an endurance race held between April 30th and May 1st 1955, with co-driver Denis Jenkinson. The pair crossed the finish line of the race, which claimed the lives of 56 people during its run between 1927 – 1957, in a time of 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds with an average speed of 157.650km/h over the 1,597km, all on public roads, a record that remained unbeaten when the race was banned two years later. The 300 SLR also brought Moss victories in the Tourist Trophy in Northern Ireland and the Targa Florio in Sicily.
And now, people from all around the world can get a taste of what it would have been like to keep one of these iconic cars on a track. Mercedes has packaged 360 degree films into a handy app available on Android and iOS – follow Moss around a track in the same car he triumphed in 60 years ago in the Mille Miglia, or lap the Monza circuit’s famous bank on the shoulder of a W 196 R Streamliner. Unfortunately, it’s the closest many of us will ever get.