|The new Auto Union, designated the
P-Wagen, was ready in late fall, 1933, several months before the Mercedes.In January they
invited the press to view their new car and the press in their enthusiasm declared the
sleek new car as the German race car. Daimler-Benz who had yet to debut their car
was not amused by this new upstart. 1934 would bring in the 750 kilogram
formula that was meant to make racing cheaper in the cash strapped
Thirties. The minimum race length was set at 500 kilometers.
the rise of the National Socialists steps were taken to expand the
economy. Credit was more freely given, armament production was of course
increased and labour unions, the traditional strength behind the leftist
parties were banned. Daimler-Benz, in the person of Jacob Werlin had a
personal acquaintance with the new German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler. With
his help the Transport Ministry would pay 450,000 Reichsmarks to the
firm that produced a Grand Car with bonus payments of 20,000, 10,000 and
5,000 for finishes 1st through 3rd. Unfortunately for Daimler-Benz the
party was crashed by Auto Union and the stipend would have to be shared
by the two firms. Historically this was a third of the budget that
Wilhelm Kissel had estimated and only 10% of what was actually spent each
Finally the new car designated the
Mercedes W25 was ready. Produced under the technical direction of Dr Hans Niebel
with Max Wagner as head of chassis design, Albert Heess and Otto Schilling in charge of
engine development and Fritz Nallinger's experimental department overseeing the building
and testing of the actual race cars. Rudolf Caracciola, who had
raced an Alfa Romeo in 1932 sold his 1933 car that had crashed at Monaco
the next year to Daimler.This would prove quite an advantage as a
measuring stick for the new W25. After some discussion they decided that unlike
Auto Union they would adopt a front engined layout. Power was provided by a twin ohc
supercharged straight eight. The suspension was all-independent with wishbones and coil
springs at the front, swing axle and transverse quarter elliptics at the rear. Stopping
power was provided by hydraulically assisted drum brakes. Initially the cars were painted
white, the German national racing color, but according to legend the paint was later
removed to save weight, exposing the silver bodywork. The press soon began calling the
race cars die Silberpfeile (Silver Arrows).
The new cars won four major Grand
Prix races as well as two hillclimbs during their inaugural first year.
Autocar's reporter called the screaming Mercedes, the noisiest cars on
earth. Initial power ratings for the car was 314 bhp at 5,800 rpm. Using
a new fuel mixture provided by Standard Oil that replaced the
gasoline/benzol with methyl alcohol horsepower was bumped to 354 bhp. A
new golden era of racing had begun.
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GEORGE MONKHOUSE was one of the world's greatest motor racing photographers, and his books Motoraces, Motor Racing with Mercedes-Benz and Grand Prix Motor Racing Facts and Figures (1950), are regarded as the principal records of a golden age in motor racing in the 1930s and the immediate post-war era.
Monkhouse was a senior executive of the Kodak company, later their chief engineer in the United Kingdom. He dealt with grand prix, not any other lesser sort of racing, and with Mercedes, not with any lesser make. His views were forthright but were not universally popular in British motor racing circles in the mid-1930s.
|He and his friends Dick Seaman and Laurence Pomeroy Jnr saw how it was done by Mercedes and they looked for a similar attitude from the British teams. At that time there was indeed a great gulf between the predominantly amateur albeit well-heeled British teams and the professional, government-backed German racing.