The past, present, and future collide in Mercedes’ EQ Silver Arrow concept

Have you ever wondered what a race car from the 1930s would look like if it was reinvented in 2018? The Mercedes-Benz design department has answered that question beautifully with a concept named EQ Silver Arrow, a heritage-laced single-seater that made its world debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

As its name implies, the EQ Silver Arrow pays homage to the W125 Silver Arrow race car that logged its first lap around a track in 1937. It later reached 268 mph on the German autobahn, a record that stood until November 2017. Don’t expect the modern-day Silver Arrow to try reclaiming the crown for Mercedes, though. It’s a rolling laboratory built to demonstrate Mercedes’ advancements in the field of electrification. Its battery-electric powertrain delivers 720 horsepower and up to 250 miles of driving range. The firm promises “fast acceleration” but puzzlingly stopped short of providing additional specifications.

Mercedes manufactured the Silver Arrow’s body out of carbon fiber in order to offset the weight added by the battery pack. While the metallic silver paint makes the sleek, wind-cheating silhouette look almost fluid, it’s the interior that will leave enthusiasts speechless. The cabin fuses old- and new-school design. The driver sits on a leather-upholstered seat mounted right in the middle of the car; real wood lines the floors and the ambient lighting reflects off the brushed aluminum trim to add a touch of color. It’s like a personal, land-bound yacht with four wheels.

Two screens face the driver. Embedded in the rectangular steering wheel, the first one is a touch-sensitive unit that provides key information about the car and its surroundings like its speed, the motor’s real-time power output, and the outside temperature. The driver also uses this screen to select one of the three driving modes or change the artificial engine noise piped into the cabin. Options include the sound of a current Formula 1 car or the deep bellow of AMG’s twin-turbocharged V8, a tune normally heard in performance cars like the E63. The second, much-wider screen places a virtual racetrack over a digital representation of the road to let the driver compete against the computer in a current or classic Silver Arrow. To us, it looks like a more realistic version of Mario Kart without the shells and the banana peels. Mercedes posits that the function helps motorists become better drivers.

Put your checkbook away; there’s no indication the EQ Silver Arrow will ever reach production. It merely sheds insight into the direction Mercedes’ design language will take in the coming years, so we could see some of its styling cues — including the thin blue line that connects the headlights — appear on future electrified models.

Fans of wild, design-led concept cars are in for a treat at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Audi introduced the PB18 E-Tron, which provides a glimpse into the electrified future of the supercar, while Infiniti unveiled its own retro-inspired racer concept called the Prototype 10.

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