On a recent business trip to Germany, I took advantage of an opportunity to visit the Mercedes-Benz museum. Located just inside the gate of DaimlerChrysler's headquarters, it's accessed via a shuttlebus. Wander inside this post to see just a few of the many vehicles on display.
The museum starts with the earliest history of Daimler and Benz.
The 1889 Daimler Stahlradwagen (steel-wheeled car) shown above included such innovations as the V-twin engine and a four-speed transmission. You gotta love the tiller used for steering.
The 1907 Mercedes Simplex Reisewagen (touring car) was built for Emil Jellinek, a significant investor in Daimler. In return for his financial support, he requested that future models be named after his young daughter, Mercedes. From 9.3 L of displacement, this vehicle produced 60 HP. Note the dual rear wheels.
The Mercedes-Benz 540 K, of which only 25 were produced between 1934 and 1936, has got to rank among the most beautiful cars of all time. It produced 160 HP from a supercharged 5 L, and had a top speed of 100 MPH.
Raced to victory by Hermann Lang in the 1939 Tripoli Grand Prix, the W 165 was powered to a top speed of 150 MPH by a 1.5 L engine that produced a stunning 254 HP. Considering the brake, suspension, and tire technology of that time, it had to be quite a handful.
The above is the Mercedes-Benz 600 Popemobile, in production from 1964 to 1981. This particular vehicle, a 1965 model, was said to be used by Pope Paul IV.
In 1969, Mercedes-Benz displayed the C 111. While previous versions were shown with three-or four-rotor Wankel rotaries, this particular model was equipped with a five-cylinder diesel for the purpose of setting speed records for that engine type (a total of 16 were obtained), in the hopes that this would increase acceptance of Mercedes? soon-to-be introduced line of such engines. Any postive effect from this car was likely undone by Oldsmobile a decade later.
Overall, the museum is quite impressive, even if it ignores the history of the Daimler-Benz merger in 1926 (or the DaimlerChrysler merger, for that matter), and glosses-over the involvement of the company in WWI and WWII. If you visit, consider it mandatory that you pick up the radio handsets that provide a self-guided tour, as there?s very little information displayed about each model. In just less than a year, DaimlerChrysler will open their new museum just across the street from their Stuttgart headquarters that will house a significantly larger collection of not only production and racing cars, but also commercial vehicles. I look forward to visiting it!