Mercedes-Benz is rightly proud of its roots, history and its undisputed role in the development of the automotive world. F1technical.net's Balazs Szabo has lately visited the jewel-box of the company, the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.
Best or nothing. This Mercedes’ slogan is not a cheap trick to appeal specific market segments and convey to their target audience, it really fits the approach of the company. Mercedes’ main museum is located in Stuttgart where the company provides with a glimpse into its history in an enormous complex.
Cars have become an integral part of our life. It revolutionized the transportation of people and goods. The benefits of a car form a long list including on-demand transportation, mobility, independence, convenience and significant economic benefits. The number of cars are increasing all over the world, especially in China, India and other newly industrialized countries. According to an estimation from 2014, the number of cars was over 1.25 billion vehicles in that particular year.
The speed of its conquering campaign at the beginning of the 20th century did not know limits. Mercedes played a fair part in that process. In fact, it is impossible to separate the history of the German company and the one of the development of the automotive history.
The birth of the first cars
The year of 1886 is regarded as the birth of the modern car when the German inventor Karl Benz built his Benz Patent-Motorwagen which was a vehicle designed to be propelled by an internal combustion engine. The German developed a successful gasoline-powered two-stroke piston engine in 1873 and he then focused on designing a motorized vehicle. That development work saw the birth of the Patent-Motorwagen in 1885 which was unveiled to the public a year later in Mannheim. The inventor’s wife Bertha financed the development work. About 25 Patent-Motorpatent vehicles were manufactured between 1886 and 1893 which shows the difficulties the manufacturing process meant at that time.
However, Benz’ Patent-Motorwagen was quite expensive and it was therefore only for wealthy people reachable. It took another 22 years until cars got accessible to masses. It was the 1908 Model T, an American car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company which meant the breakthrough. The change in manufacturing processes opened travel to the common middle-class American as the Ford company swapped the slow, costly, individual hand crafting to much more efficient fabrication including assembly line production.
At the same time, another company emerged on the scene. The Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft was called into being which focused first on engine manufacturing and then automobile designing. It was founded by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach and was in operation from 1890 to1926. It was based first in a city district of Stuttgart called Cannstatt, then its was moved to Stuttgart-Untertürkheim and to Berlin with other factories located in Marienfelde and Sindelfingen.
The Mercedes name came from an Austrian diplomat Emil Jellinek who lived in Nice and sold cars. As a racing enthusiast, he had been racing cars of the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft under the pseudonym Mercedes, after his daughter Mercedes Jellinek. He contacted the company later to produce a small series of sports cars. The model was released for sale in 1901 under the name of Mercedes 35 hp. Thanks to the success of the sports car, the company started using the name for some of its further models.
The birth of Mercedes Benz
1926 saw the birth of today’s Mercedes-Benz company when the post World War One German economic crises urged the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and Benz company to merge together. The new company was christened Mercedes-Benz, resulting from the mergers of Benz & Cie. and Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft.
Mercedes-Benz has become a leading, world-famous carmaker which offers a wide variety of cars, from the cheaper A-class models to the S-class which consists of luxury saloon, coupé and cabriolet vehicles and the breathtaking sports car and super car models of the AMG family.Museum
The Mercedes Museum is located in Stuttgart which is the capital and largest city of the German state Baden-Württemberg. The city lies on the banks of the Neckar river and has a population of 623738 habitants. It is unusual in the scheme of German cities as it is spread over hills, vineyards, parks and valleys. Stuttgart is a centre of German industry where companies like Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Bosch, Daimler AG, Dinkelacker are operating.
An enormous, futuristic building hosts the Mercedes Museum which was built in 2006 and opened its doors for the public on 19 May 2006. Previously, a smaller museum was housed within the factory territory and visitors were transported from the main gate by a shuttle bus.
The current house which was designed by the Dutch company UN Studio was based on a spectacular cloverleaf concept. The double helix interior enabled to create an incredible inside space, providing 16500 square metres of exhibition place.
The Mercedes Museum is not a simple self-advertisement, but a stand-alone, unique history lesson and an alive history book. It is the only museum in the world which gives a look into the universal history and the history of automotive industry and racing at the same time, documenting in a single continuous timeline the auto industry history which can look back at a more than 130 year of history.
The interior, the 160 vehicles presented, the posters with the deep, but easily understandable information, the wide areas, the interactive opportunities, the multi-language guides, short films, simulators, the interesting angles and position of the presented cars all serve as guarantee for an unforgettable tour in the world of automotive history.
The tour which takes around two hours, but can be much more than that if one intends to discover and explore every corner of the enormous complex, starts at the reception. A lift transports visitors to the uppermost level of the building where the journey in time kicks off. The year of 1886 which marks the birth of the modern automotive history is the first station of the long tour. It then spirals its ways down through the extensive collection.
Strolling down the double-helix structure, you smell the history of the automotive industry and the company, supported by the most important events of the universal history. A wide variety of activities of the company in the world of automotive industry is presented in a unique arrangement, from the first historic cars to buses which is topped by the breeze of the technology of the future. To crown the marvellous exhibition, the racing history is presented in the closing hall by a long series of successful racing vehicles like Le Mans-successors, F1 cars designed in the former collaboration with McLaren and ultra-successful Mercedes F1 cars of the past years.