For all the glory you get from driving a 1930s Grand Prix race car, it’s not the most comfortable way to get around town. There’s the lack of a roof, for one. The loud and (one can only assume) smelly engine. A seat that hasn’t benefited from a century of ergonomic research.
So Mercedes-Benz has good news for those who like the cushiness of the 21st century but can’t get over the appeal of those pre-war days. At a swanky cocktail party on the California coast in the lead up to Sunday’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the luxury automaker unveiled the EQ Silver Arrow, a concept that puts a high-tech spin on the car as it once was.
The Silver Arrow monniker dates to 1934, when Mercedes faced disqualification from a race for showing up with a car a single kilogram over the limit. To drop the weight, the team scraped the white paint off the W 25 racer, revealing the gleaming aluminum body underneath. They won the race, and the Silver Arrow name followed. This new concept is an homage to the 1937 W 125, which Mercedes driver Rudolf Caracciola used to win that year’s European Championship, the predecessor to modern Formula 1 racing.
Like the racers of old, the EQ Silver Arrow seats just one, in the center of the car, which is just over 17 feet long and about 3 feet tall. This being 2018, it’s made of carbon fiber, so it’s painted to look like aluminum. Each wheel has 168 lightweight aluminum spokes painted rose gold and sports a non-rotating hubcap, so the three-pointed star isn’t subjected to the indignity of spinning.
You’ll find the same logo in the tread on the Pirelli tires and sewn into the seat, a detail that stands out even in a sea of fine leather, aluminum, walnut, and grey suede (to match the exterior). Other coddling features include the four-point harness (OK, that’s just a safety thing) and the “Airscarf” system that uses warm air to soothe the neck of any driver so eager to hit the road, they forget their scarf up in the penthouse.
But the future really hits in the car’s powertrain. Instead of the 5.6-liter, eight-cylinder engine that powered the W 125, this concept gets an 80-kWh battery that produces the equivalent of an outrageous 750 horsepower and 250 miles of range between charges. Drivers who dig the battery power but miss the aural sensation of internal combustion can have the (presumably deluxe) sound system mimic a Mercedes-AMG V8 or a current Mercedes F1 car.
Much of the view from the driver’s seat is taken up by a panoramic screen that offers a 3-D image of the car’s surroundings. If you’re eager for a challenge, the screen will display a “ghost” competitor, an augmented-reality trick that gives you someone to race against. And lest you lose, the car’s “Virtual Race Coach” will provide tips, in some unspecified manner.
Of course, these are all just ideas; the EQ Silver Arrow is a concept and not the sort of thing Mercedes will actually build. But in an age where the race to hand control over to the robot dominates headlines, it’s nice to revisit the glory days of human-powered racing—without risking a cold neck.