The born of a legend: Auto Union ‘Silver Arrow’

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 29, 2010

For those who want to know a little bit of history, one of the most remarkable chapters in the entire motorsports happened 75 years ago on May 27, 1934 during race on the Avus racetrack in Berlin where German race cars were going to be dubbed the Silver Arrows.

Both the Auto Union, the firm from which the present-day Audi developed from, and Mercedes-Benz did not win that race, but it did not take long for these carmakers to take control of the international Grand Prix competition, which they did until the start of WW II five years later in 1939. It seemed unbelievable but as early as 1936 the racing cars of Auto Union were already attaining speeds of 380km/h.

The first racecars with the four-ring emblem which entered the Avus circuit in Berlin in 1934 was piloted by Hans Stuck, August Momberger and Hermann Prince zu Leiningen.

The cars, which were finished in a striking silver paintjob, came with powerplants fitted at the back of the driver. The 1934 competition was the first season in motor racing that had to meet with a new formula such as a 750kg dry weight limit for competing cars, although there were no restrictions as to the size of the engines or on the fuel type used.

It has been said that the man behind the Auto Union racing models was Ferdinand Porsche who was responsible for designing them for the new auto manufacturing group that came about in 1932 through a merger of the brands Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer, and also superintended their construction and testing beginning in 1933 and thereafter. Porsche's

design was approved depending on whether the powerplant could generate a minimum of 250hp attained at 4500rpm. This was established when Hans Stuck set a world record in March 1934 on the Avus circuit.

After that the new Auto Union race cars gave an outstanding performance during Avus race that was held the following month. Hans Stuck averaged 245km/h lap speed during trial runs demonstrating that he was the fastest contender in the race. It was pouring during the race, but Auto Union defeated all other contenders, with Momberger clocking the highest speed average of 225.8km/h.

Stuck performed so well, that by the 10th lap he had about a minute lead against his closest rivals, but then a mistake occurred. As the finish line approached Momberger was in third position behind the drivers of Alfa Romeo Guy Moll and Achille Varzi, thereby securing a podium position. Mercedes Benz, incidentally, had some technical problems and opted to pass the race.

Topics: classic car

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