March of the Titans - Auto Union & Mercedes

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1937 German Grand Prix with the Mercedes W125 and Auto Union Type C Motor Racing Art Print by Stuart Booth

 

1937 was the final year of the 750kg formula, which had been intended to control the size and speed of Grand Prix cars.  Such were the advances made by German designers however, that by 1937 engine power exceeded 600bhp, a level that would not be reached again until the turbocharged era of the 1980’s.  Grand Prix racing from 1934 to 1939 was a titanic struggle almost entirely fought between Mercedes and Auto Union, with the occasional intervention of Alfa Romeo, largely due to the genius of Tazio Nuvolari.

 

The official German racing colour was white but for reasons never satisfactorily explained both Auto Union and Mercedes cars from 1934 raced with unpainted aluminium bodywork, giving rise to the popular name of ‘Silver Arrows’.  The artist prefers to use the term ‘The Titans’, which possibly originated with the Shell History of Motor Racing, as being a fitting reference both to the shear brute power of these machines and the drivers who wrestled them around the road circuits of Europe.

 

Here on the first lap of the German Grand Prix at the Nurburing, the Mercedes W125 of Hermann Lang leads the Auto Union type C of Bernd Rosemeyer, followed by eventual winner Rudolf Caracciola in another W125 and Nuvolari in an Alfa Romeo.

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