Mercedes-Benz W154 Silver Arrows

Silver Arrows at the Goodwood Revival 2012

Silver Arrows at the 2012 Goodwood Revival – Mercedes-Benz W 165, 1939

The W 165 formula racing car was developed by Mercedes-Benz in less than eight months to accommodate new rules which had been changed at short notice in 1939 for the Italian Grand Prix races organised by the Italian motorsports association. This included the prestigious Tripoli Grand Prix in Libya, then an Italian colony. These rules stipulated a maximum displacement of just 1.5 litres (rather than 3 litres).

For the new 1.5-litre engine, the engineers led by Max Sailer decided on an M 165 V8 unit producing 254 hp (187 kW). The right-hand cylinder bank of the short-stroke, 90-degree engine was positioned 18 millimeters further forward. The design of the frame and suspension was based on the three-litre W 154: an oval tubular frame with cross-members made of chromium-nickel-molybdenum steel, a De Dion rear axle with torsion bar suspension and a wishbone suspension with coil springs at the front. From the outside, the smaller Mercedes looked like its big brother, the W 154, although for reasons of space the driver in the W 165 sat slightly to the right.

Two W 165 cars raced at Tripoli, resulting in a famous double win for the marque with Hermann Lang coming first with an average speed of just under 198 km/h and Rudolf Caracciola finishing in second place.

Mercedes-Benz W 154 Silver Arrows
Mercedes-Benz W 154 Silver Arrows (photo: Tim Scott)
Mercedes-Benz W 165 Silver Arrows
Tripoli Grand Prix, May 7, 1939: Hermann Lang won the race at the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz W 165 racing car. (photo: Daimler AG)
Mercedes-Benz W 165 Silver Arrows
Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix racing car W 165 of 1939, winner car of the Grand Prix of Tripoli on 7 May 1939. (photo: Daimler AG)
Mercedes-Benz W 154 Silver Arrows
Jackie Stewart has a close call with the Mercedes-Benz W 154 Silver Arrows (photo: Tim Scott)
Mercedes-Benz W 154 Silver Arrows
Sigh of relief from Jackie Stewart in the Mercedes-Benz W 154 Silver Arrows (photo: Tim Scott)
Mercedes-Benz W 154 Silver Arrows
Mercedes-Benz W 154 Silver Arrows (photo: Julien Mahiels)

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[Source: Daimler AG; Audi AG; photos: Tim Scott; Julien Mahiels]

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  1. As David Hinshaw says, “Great photo gallery and history of these awesome machines. Thanks to all involved for putting this together!” Good also to see Stuck (senior!) in hill-climbing and also Luigi Fagioli who always seemed to be overshadowed by Caracciola and Seaman in pre-war racing and by Fangio and Farina in 1950-1951. A driver who deserves to be remembered more than he is. An article for your site, maybe?