JAN 15th 2016

Video: 'Full Throttle' – Mighty 600hp Silver Arrows Dominate In 1937

Does any era of motorsport sum up the essence of ‘Full Throttle’ better than the late 1930s, when the mighty Silver Arrows ruled the Grand Prix tracks of the world?

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Granted, the genius of Ferdinand Porsche and Rudolf Uhlenhaut gave Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz respectively a head-start on the opposition in terms of chassis technology, and they employed the best drivers, but more than anything it was previously-undreamt-of power that allowed them to sweep all before them for six glorious seasons from 1934-39. Just watch the way Dick Seaman’s Mercedes passes Tazio Nuvolari’s Alfa like it’s standing still at 1m10s in this video if you need evidence of the German teams’ advantage…

Of those years, 1937 stands out as a high water mark. That was the last season of the 750kg formula, the rules for which placed no limit on engine size, and power outputs for the V16 Auto Union Type C and straight-8 Mercedes-Benz W125 exceeded 600bhp. Such levels wouldn’t be repeated in Grand Prix racing until the turbo era of the 1980s.

Silver arrows

Even now, nearly 80 years later, the speeds are eye-opening. Herman Lang’s winning average on the open road circuit at Tripoli was 134mph. At AVUS, where the streamlined cars were used, it was even higher – a truly incredible 162mph. To put that in context, Wilbur Shaw’s winning speed in the Indianapolis 500 of 1937 was a shade under 114mph. In fact, that 162mph wouldn’t be bettered at Indy until 1972!!

At Donington the speeds were lower, but seeing the cars drifting between farm buildings or leaping over the infamous crest still reminds you that these were different times. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is rivalry between team mates. The spat between Rudolf Caracciola and Manfred Von Brauchitsch at Monaco really does prove that there’s nothing new in the world…

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