‘Mercedes’ somehow reminds me of childhood. Not because I owned it or something but it was probably the only luxury car brand known to me then. I don’t own it now either but now I am aware of other brands as well! While filling up slam books for my friends in school my patent answer to “You wish to own” question was a “Mercedes-Benz Car”. Not much has changed though, I still wish to own one. But then, or till the time I visited this one in 2013, I never knew that Mercedes-Benz has it’s own goddamn museum. Or for the matter of fact, almost all luxury brands have.
Stuttgart is home to both Mercedes and Porsche museums but having only one day in hand, my obvious choice was Mercedes. First, because of childhood nostalgia and second because it is the only museum in the world that cabinets the fascinating saga of more than 130 years of automobile industry from its fundamentals to the present day in a single uninterrupted timeline. Who would want to miss a chance like that?
The museum stands outside the main gate of the Daimler factory in Stuttgart and highly praises the German giant’s grandeur. Equipped with incredible technology and covering a floor space of 16,500 square meters (spread over nine floors), this museum enjoys 160 vehicles and 1500 displays. And each one of them is a masterpiece. Most of the exhibits are in both German and English.
Picture courtesy: mercedes-benz.com
Note: Don’t forget to pick your audio guide before entering the elevator. It is available in several languages.
Two inter-weaved museum trips guide the visitors through the stunning architecture of the building and the action-packed history of the brand as they spiral their way down to the museum exit. The journey focuses on some key instances of fashionable world history like super sports cars, Silver Arrows and Gull-wings. The two-hour tours lead to the same end point: the innovations of the present and a glimpse into the future. The exposition gives a perception about the latest topics from the domains of research, design, development and production.
The exhibits are divided into two fragments, one detailing the history of the brand and other offering a thematic presentation of the affluence and multiplicity of vehicles made by the brand.
As the museum lift moves you to the uppermost level of the building, the first thing you see is a horse. Unexpected? Of course, yes. It signifies an insider’s joke on a German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, who asserted after the creation of the first models in 1886: “I do believe in the horse. The automobile is no more than a transitory phenomenon.”
It is one of the few inventions that have made the mortal world a better place to live in. The museum is separated into 7 Legend rooms and 4 Collection rooms where Legend rooms are chronologically organized and Collection rooms are themed according to types of use. The broad range of exhibits reflects the experience, proficiency and precision, which are common to all automotive products across the board.
Legend 1 – Pioneers: The Invention of the Automobile (1886-1900)
As you enter the room, the lore begins about the revolutionary creation of the automobile, the brainchild of Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler and also the era of manual mode of transportation before that.
The journey starts from the year 1886, when curiosity, knowledge and experiments turned the dream of auto-mobility into reality. This room exhibits the first prototypes of Mercedes-Benz cars.
Below is the Benz patent motor car, the first in the world with a gasoline engine.
Daimler motorized carriage.
The room also showcases their experiments with engine powered bikes and carriages.
Below is the Daimler Riding Car.
Daimler motorized hand car.
Daimler motorized quadricycle – the “wire-wheel car”.
Daimler motorized streetcar.
Daimler motorized fire-fighting pump.
Daimler Vis-à-Vis belt-driven car.
Daimler motorized business vehicle.
Legend 2 – Mercedes: Birth of the Brand (1900-1914)
Walking down the spiral walkway and going through the German history, you would reach the Legend room 2 which focuses on the birth of the one of the best-known brand names.
A quick sneak peek of the display from the walkway.
Mercedes was the name of Emil Jellinek’s daughter, who was one of the best buyers of the firm. In 1899, he began participating in motor races – in vehicles which he had purchased from DMG – under the pseudonym “Mercedes”. It went on to become a product name at the end of 1900 when it was used to designate the radically new 35 hp model which had just appeared. His spectacular racing successes ensured that this memorable name soon became very well-known. The exhibits in this room are:
20/35 hp Benz landaulet
40 hp Mercedes-Simplex
60 hp Mercedes-Simplex touring limousine
75 hp Mercedes double phaeton
Legend 3 -Times of Change: Diesel and Supercharger (1914-1945)
DMG and Benz & Cie. merged in 1926 to form Daimler-Benz AG. They developed supercharged engines to boost the performance of automobiles and also understood the importance of fuel efficiency, thus becoming a pioneer in the field of diesel technology. Legend 3 displays various aircraft engines developed by the company.
1928 Klemm-Daimler Leichtflugzeug L20
Focusing on the cars, have a look at this picture below and tell me what captures your eyes the most. Isn’t it the red beastly beauty?
That is the Mercedes-Benz 500 K special roadster. The Mercedes-Benz 500 K was the car of the rich and the beautiful. It was the most appealing and expensive car of its era, priced at approx. 98,000 Euros.
Note: A closer look might make you weak at the knees.
Other exhibits of the era are:
26/120/180 hp Mercedes-Benz model S touring car – Initiating the era of S Model series where S stands for sports.
Mercedes-Benz 540 K convertible B. The 540 K was the more powerful successor to the 500 K.
Legend 4 – Post War Miracle: Form and Diversity (1945-1960)
The era where practical designs met individualistic style and the three-pointed star cars made to the ‘wanted’ list of every affluent person.
The display is simply mind-boggling as it is difficult to survive these well-crafted beauties.
Mercedes-Benz 300: The fastest and biggest German-built production car.
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL coupé, popularly known as the Gull-wing.
Mercedes-Benz 300 S convertible A
Legend 5 – Visionaries: Safety and the Environment (1960-1982)
The pioneers of passenger safety and environmental compatibility, this Legend room showcases the more practical developments of the era.
Mercedes-Benz 220 S and its sister models were the world´s first production cars built with the safety body patented by Bela Barenyi.
Legend 6 – New Start: The Road to Emission-free Mobility (1982)
Apart from the cars and architecture, one thing that is sure to catch attention is the lights. Lights have been done to brilliance in each and every display. This section showcases the various milestones achieved by the company in the field of environment sensitivity and their contribution to the society.
Mercedes-Benz B-Klasse F-CELL: The first series-produced electric car with fuel cell drive.
Legend 7 – Silver Arrows: Races & Records
This section is my favorite one. All the vehicles from the racing successes of the Mercedes-Benz history are beautifully displayed here in the form of a racing track.
This section perfectly describes the outstanding performance, reliability and credibility of the brand.
For the racing enthusiasts, this is a golden opportunity to examine these two race cars which reveals the engineering and technology beneath the fabulous metal skin. You can also enjoy the thrill of a real race in their racing simulators. Take your time guys.
One can also take a look at the wide range of accessories displayed.
Apart from the tour describing the legendary achievements of the brand, there is a simultaneous tour of other vehicles displayed as ‘Collections’ in four different categories.
Collection 1 – Gallery of Voyagers
Daimler and Benz launched buses and coaches to pass on the boon of motor vehicles to the common people who could not otherwise afford the privatized luxury.
Collection 2 – Gallery of Carriers
The duo truly revolutionized the society by introducing goods vehicles laying the foundation stone of motorized transportation of goods.
Collection 3 – Gallery of Helpers
Next expansion was in the field of helping and rescuing. Ambulances, fire fighters, police cars, recovery trucks, winter equipment, panel vans, garbage trucks, you name it and they have done it already. Long back. They surely left no stone unturned.
Collection 4 – Gallery of Celebrities
Be it the affluent celebrities or the demanding royals, almost everybody has a weak heart for this brand cars. Princess Diana was one of them too. This section proudly shows off the elegance owned by the rich and famous.
Logo and typography has also undergone a major evolution since the beginning.
Well, the trip has ended and it’s time to return the audio guides. While you make your way down the staircase, enjoy the cars mounted on various platforms on your way down.
The building also hosts a museum shop with a wide range of the brand products. In case the actual cars are unaffordable, one can buy the model cars 🙂
The Mercedes-Benz Museum host wide-ranging events throughout the year like special exhibitions, fun attractions for children open-air cinema etc.
All the information on timings, tickets, online bookings, discounts, guided tours etc. could be fetched from their official website.
A heaven for car lovers!