MERCEDES BENZ MUSEUM STUTTGART
Mercedes History - Racing & Luxury Design Technology
It's been 126 years since the first automobile of Karl Benz, the tri-cycle wheeled Benz Patent Motorwagen putted across the German countryside in 1886, from Stuttgart to Pforzheim and back, driven by his wife to demonstrate the viability of the odd new mode of transportation, and Mercedes-Benz has been the leader in automobile design innovation ever since. The car company was formed when Benz teamed with Gottlieb Daimler and engineer Wilhelm Maybach, marketing the first Mercedes car in 1901. There’s no doubt when you arrive at the Stuttgart main train station which bears the silver Mercedes-Benz Tristar-in-a-circle symbol twirling above the main building that Stuttgart is a Mercedes town. Unlike the modern naming of a stadium for a company for sponsor money, that star has been there for some time. Though, if the car company’s long history with Stuttgart is old, it’s spectacular museum, perhaps one of the best car museums in the world, is so very sleek and modern.
The Mercedes-Benz Museum in gleaming silver is located near Stuttgart’s soccer stadium (which is named and sponsored by Mercedes). As you approach the museum with its Mercedes silver skin in a sweeping curve, it appears like a cross between a metallic layer cake and a giant high-tech fuel injector you might find under the hood of a “Transformer” 300 SL. A TV commercial ran recently with the museum in the woods somewhere, but it’s pretty much in the city next to the factory. The museum is organized on the unusual idea of starting at the top and working your way down. The huge open interior atrium rises several floors above with futuristic sci-fi pod shaped elevators whisking you to the top floor, where you follow the partnership between Daimler and Benz which has resulted in one of the world’s most respected automobile brands.
The historical journey though the development of the Mercedes-Benz starts on the top floor 130 feet up and follows a chronological order downward through five levels of automotive history. The exhibits start with the first of the innovative vehicles, essentially buggies and wagon with motors added to the most sophisticated of engineering. The visitor is guided by an individual head phone audio guide which activates when near an exhibit. It talks to you automatically as you move from floor to floor, but press a button relating to a dot on the exhibit display to get the specific details. You can also take a group guided tour, or just hang around the edges and listen in if you want to move at your own pace.
The displays follow a circular ramp winding downward through the levels of magnificently fascinating and beautiful machinery along with photo displays on the walls tracking German and world history along with the automobile development that give context to the inventions and designs. On display are some of Mercedes-Benz most exotic designs, limousines built for potentates and presidents, the iconic Mercedes Gullwing sports cars and even an example of the Mercedes-Benz “Pope-Mobile” the bulletproof glass encased vehicle of Pope John-Paul. The war years and production of aircraft engines is fairly briefly touched upon. The museum is designed in a double-helix track, one direction leads to the principal passenger cars and the other to trucks and other transport vehicles, so make sure you check both paths, or you might miss something.
For the sports car and auto racing enthusiast, sweeping displays celebrate Mecedes-Benz competition history. In the sports racing display room the race cars of Mercedes legend are laid out in a sloped race track like display makig for an impressive photo opportunity. Here you’ll find the Sterling Moss driving winner of the 1955 Mille Miglia (see Mille Miglia Museum) Juan Manuel Fangio’s 1956 Grand Prix championship car and the modern era F1 Mercedes-McClaren of Mika Hakkinen. A break-away Formula One Car illustrates the construction of the world’s most sophisticated driving machines. The Mercedes racing history is also represented by a display of famous driver's racing suits, gloves and helmets of the greats like Moss, and Fangio along with the gleaming shining trophies.
The tour ends with a display of futuristic design concepts and of course a store where you can shop for Mercedes-Benz branded gifts, car models and souvenirs. A display of student and upcoming future designers can be seen in the Design School of the ground floor. And should you feel inspired by buy an actual car, which is the ultimate corporate goal of a museum after all, the factory dealership is just outside the museum doors. For your own photo in a Mercedes Formula One race car to send home to friends, look for the cutaway car on the lower ground floor, near the restaurant and classic car sales room, or the Juan Manuel Fangio GP car statue outside.
Visiting Mercedes-Benz Museum Stuttgart
anyone with an interest in cars or design, the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart
is one of the most unique highly stylized museum experiences to be
had, and a study in design all on its own. Price for a day ticket is €8.
A spot on a guided tour is €4 additional. The Museum is open Tuesday to
Sunday 9 am to 6 pm. The ticket counter closes at 5 pm. A factory tour is also
available by arrangement for museum visitors. The
Mercedes museum is on the east side of Stuttgart, just across the Neckar
River on the property of the Mercedes factory. The easiest way to get there
is by S-Bahn train, take line S1 to the “Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion” stop
and follow the signs. By car from the A8 or A81 motorways follow the signs
to Stuttgart Zentrum and follow the signs to the stadium, Mercedes-Benz Museum
or Neckarpark. © Bargain
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