The winner Hermann Lang in a 1.5 liter W 165 "Silver Arrow"

75 years ago: double victory for Mercedes-Benz at Tripoli Grand Prix with the W 165 “Silver Arrow”

  • The 1.5-litre W 165 “Silver Arrow” was developed specifically for Tripoli – in a record time of just eight months
  • Hermann Lang achieved his third Tripoli victory, just ahead of Rudolf Caracciola

Stuttgart. – Hermann Lang and Rudolf Caracciola outclassed the competition with a double victory in the completely new Mercedes-Benz W 165 1.5-litre racing car at the Tripoli Grand Prix on the Mellaha circuit on 7 May 1939. The triumph in Libya was particularly significant because the Italian motor sports association, who were organising the Grand Prix, had intended to impede the successful German formula racing cars by changing the rules. Following three victories by the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows (Caracciola 1935, Lang 1937 and 1938) and a race won by the Auto Union (Achille Varzi 1936), they announced that the 1939 season Tripoli Grand Prix would be for the voiturette class of 1.5-litre racing cars only. Mercedes-Benz reacted with sporting ambition, developing the completely new racing car W 165 specifically for this class in less than eight months – and Lang and Caracciola seized victory.

Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix racing car W 165 of 1939, winner car of the Grand Prix of Tripoli on 7 May 1939

Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix racing car W 165 of 1939, winner car of the Grand Prix of Tripoli on 7 May 1939

When he sat in the new Mercedes-Benz W 165 Silver Arrow for the first time in April 1939 at the Hockenheimring, Hermann Lang was completely thrilled: “Goodness me, the little athlete could go! You’d hardly got into one gear before you were switching to the next”, the racing driver recalls in his autobiography „Vom Rennmonteur zum Meisterfahrer“ (“From racing mechanic to master driver”), published in 1952, as he reminisces on his premiere in the monoposto with its 1.5-litre V8 engine, which had been kept under wraps by its developers up to that point.

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