Bringing the Silver Arrows Back to Life
The Silver Arrows (Silberpfeil) were the legendary Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union Grand Prix racers of the 1930s supposedly named by the press for their German national racing color. They established the primacy of German race cars by achieving speeds (over 300 km/h in race trim, higher in land speed trim) and outputs not matched until much later.
The goal of the work you see here was to achieve perfect historical accuracy and realism in every composition, down to the last detail. From the design of the cars to the type of welding on their bodies, from the landscape of the locations to the clothing of the crowd—everything had to look just right for the eightieth anniversary of these races.
Unfortunately, only a bit of material is preserved from the original 1934-1939 races,but extensive research was conducted over all of the film, photos, and documents that were discovered. Orchestrated by Jan Rambousek and Tomáš Kopečny, large format prints provide detail that could never have been captured with the photographic technology of the time.
Combining original photography with advanced 3D graphics they brought the legendary Silver Arrows of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union—along with other famous brands—back to life. The stories related to the drivers and cars, augmented by the crystal clear images truly revive these lost icons. Have a look and see how they recreated five years of racing history in five days of photography (and countless hours of modeling, pre-production research and planning, and post- production graphics work). The results are stunning! Below are a few questions and answers with the Silver Arrows project chief, Jan.
Q: How did you develop the idea?
A: The whole project started with totally different print. We wanted to recreate a speed record of Bob Burman on Daytona beach in 1911. And we had many good reactions from people so we decided to do much bigger project of twelve images for a calendar. However the project started to grow bigger and bigger but there was no way back and we had to finish that. It took us nearly three years in the end.
Q: What were the goals?
A: First, to recreate these unforgettable cars and race tracks in color and large format. There are only a few black and white images left and that’s it. Our biggest print is nearly three meters wide and still super sharp and detailed. Each image was created to 20000px resolution.
Second, we mostly work in advertisement. I was searching a long time for a personal project that would combine everything I like. We wanted to create something without any smart client telling us how to do our job.
Third, technical challenge. To create something like this wasn’t easy, we faced lots of different problems and it was fun to deal with them. I dare to say there’s no other project like that.
Fourth, exhibition. Once its done we wanted to share it with people. In the end, we were able to travel and exhibit at all major car events this year (Goodwood FoS, Pebble Beach, and Goodwood Revival) and planning Retro Mobile Paris and Techno Classica Essen next year. The grand finale should be a big exhibition in cooperation with Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart. But not a single one was planned before we started on the project. You need to show them the final product to convince them… and even then it’s not so easy and takes some time.
Q: How were the images received at the various events you mentioned?
A: Very well. The first event was Goodwood Festival of Speed. We were lucky to be supported by Lord March himself and being able to have a masive exhibition right in the middle of the FoS venue. We had all twelve prints almost five meters wide. People really liked the idea and execution. I think they are already overdosing on all the similar paintings and drawings and this brings something totally new into automotive art. Now it’s becoming easier because wherever we go most people are already familiar.
Q: Do you think that a project of this scope will ever be undertaken again?
A: I hope so, im already planning a new one.