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Mercedes-Benz's Stunning EQ Silver Arrow Looks to the Past to Influence the Future

A record-setting streamliner from the 1930s inspired this 738-hp electric single-seater.

© Provided by Car and Driver   The stunning electric show car pays homage to a record-breaking streamliner from the 1930s.

By Daniel Golson, Car and Driver

[post_ads]After wowing attendees of the Pebble Beach weekend last year with the neo-art-deco Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6 cabriolet concept, Mercedes is topping itself this year at the same venue with the EQ Silver Arrow concept. According to design chief Gorden Wagener, the concept, "intended for acceleration and driving pleasure," is a glimpse into the future of Mercedes design.

The stylists found inspiration for the EQ Silver Arrow in the the W125 Rekordwagen of 1937. Based on a Grand Prix race car, the W125 got an all-new body for the explicit purpose of going extremely fast. It worked. With Rudolf Caracciola at the helm, the V-12–powered streamliner set a public-road top-speed record on the A5 autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, averaging 269 mph—a record that stood until 2017, when it was broken by the Koenigsegg Agera RS.

© Car and Driver   Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow Concept Mines Past to Shape Future

The Rekordwagen's influence radiates from the EQ Silver Arrow. At more than 17 feet from nose to tail, it's longer than a Mercedes S-class, and its proportions are similar to those of the Depression-era record setter, with a short front overhang, a long hood, and a tapered, pointy tail. The low-slung body is made entirely from carbon fiber, and multiple layers of Alubeam Silver paint hark back to the old Silver Arrow race cars, which wore naked aluminum bodies because paint was deemed to add unnecessary weight. There is almost no extraneous detailing or surfacing on the body, a refreshing sight given how extreme the designs of even mainstream production cars have gotten in recent years—have you seen a Toyota Camry lately?
Thin LED headlights and a digital grille-shaped panel lend the concept an aggressive look from the front, and a chunky side skirt boasts a light-up EQ badge and additional LED strips. The hump behind the driver's head flows into a large tailfin that's similar to the one on the Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar, which sits above a large diffuser and two massive extendible spoilers that act as air brakes.

© Car and Driver   Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow Concept Mines Past to Shape Future

One of the concept's most striking elements is the way the smooth wheel arches push far out from the body, almost giving the car the look of an open-wheel racer. Wilder still, the arches are cut off at the centerline of each wheel, leaving the rest of the wheel and tire open to the elements. There also are fixed hubcaps fitted over the front half of the wheels that line up with the end of the wheel arches and show off the 255/25R-24 front and 305/25R-26 rear tires, which were designed by Pirelli with a star pattern on the tread. Those half-pie covers also tease onlookers by leaving only 84 of each of the massive wheels' 168 spokes (painted a rose gold color) visible at any given moment.

Unlike the W125s, which were powered by supercharged straight-eight engines, the Silver Arrow concept is completely electric—hence the EQ part of the name, which denotes Mercedes-Benz's new electric-vehicle sub-brand. Mercedes has not said what kind of motors the concept uses, or how many it uses, but claims the car has a peak output of 738 horsepower. A thin 80.0-kWh battery mounted in the floor enables a range just short of 250 miles on the new European cycle, and Mercedes hinted that wireless inductive battery charging is possible. That battery is cooled by the three slats aft of the front wheels styled in a way that reminds us of the cooling vents on vintage Silver Arrows' engine covers.
© Car and Driver   Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow Concept Mines Past to Shape Future

The single-seat open cockpit is accessed by a large forward-opening body panel; with it shut, the pilot is enclosed and seated like a Formula 1 driver. A blend of high-tech features and classic materials make up the interior, part of a design ethos intended to "combine timeless aesthetic appeal with futuristic visions." There is plenty of real Saddle Brown leather for a vintage feel, but it wraps a steering wheel and seat that are far from retro. Laser engraving was used to create the seat's pattern, and the contours of the seat are lit by LEDs. The floor of the interior is made from walnut wood with dark pinstripes in coniferous wood, and further contrast is created by the trim in carbon fiber, microsuede, and aluminum.

The touchscreen embedded in the rectangular steering wheel acts as the gauge cluster, and it's augmented by a wraparound screen in the driver's sightline beneath the short, curved windshield. That screen has Virtual Race Coach, which uses artificial intelligence to pit the Silver Arrow's driver against a virtual opponent, using augmented reality to show the "ghost" on the road ahead as in a video game. Like other Mercedes models, the car has Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ driving modes. But unlike other Mercedes models, you can also choose from different "engine" sounds. We used quotes because the electric concept is naturally noiseless, so Benz makes up for that with a series of driver-selectable sounds to fill in the blanks, including a Mercedes-AMG V-8 or a current F1 car.
We'd call the fake noises goofy, but really they fit with the rest of the EQ Silver Arrow's funneling of fantasy into four-wheeled form. It's increasingly rare to see designers let loose with a concept rather than charged with creating a tame preview of an upcoming production vehicle. Maybe Mercedes-Benz's corporate suits were similarly let off the leash recently, because the company insists that the EQ Silver Arrow really does portend its future designs. Much of the concept's tech isn't so far-fetched, either, and with racing going increasingly more electric—and Mercedes entering Formula E next year—we wouldn't be surprised to see something like the EQ Silver Arrow speeding around our favorite tracks in the not so distant future.


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Autos News: Mercedes-Benz's Stunning EQ Silver Arrow Looks to the Past to Influence the Future
Mercedes-Benz's Stunning EQ Silver Arrow Looks to the Past to Influence the Future
A record-setting streamliner from the 1930s inspired this 738-hp electric single-seater.
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