Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart: ‘Tradition Meets Innovation’

  • story by David M. Brown
  • photos by Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart and Stuttgart-Marketing GmbH
  • posted on 02/2022
  • posted in: Great Garages

On June 28, 1926, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG), manufacturer of the 35-horse Mercedes in 1901, and Benz & Cie, whose founder shares credit for inventing the first internal combustion-powered automobile 15 years before, merged to establish one of the great automotive brands. Mercedes-Benz Pkw and Daimler Truck are now independent companies based in Stuttgart, Germany.

Other great names followed, of industry pioneers, legendary cars, great drivers, famous races and tracks: Daimler, Maybach, Jellinek, Benz, Simplex, Kompressor, Gullwing, Silver Arrows and The SLR McLaren; Stirling Moss, Mika Hakkinen, Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton; 1894 Paris–Rouen, the Argentine Grand Prix, Indianapolis, Nürburgring and Mille Miglia.

Celebrating these people, places and automotive firsts, the Mercedes-Benz Museum, on the outskirts of Stuttgart, Germany, in Bad Cannstatt, showcases 160 cars, from the first to today’s industry standard-setters.

Benz Patent-Motorwagen

The complete company collection of approximately 1,200 vehicles embraces 135-plus years of history and innovation and is not open to the public, but those cars are seen at exhibitions, motor shows and classic car events and rallies, explains Benedikt Weiler, the museum curator.

On January 5, the 11-millionth visitor toured the museum; people from more than 190 countries have enjoyed the cars, the automobilia and as many as 175 public and customer events annually including exhibitions, presentations, concerts and cinema shows, says Weiler, noting that visitors walk as many as three and a half miles during their visits.

“The Museum celebrates the automobile; it relates its history and tells its stories, bringing both alive by placing them in the context of technology, day-to-day life, social history and popular culture,” he says. The vehicles include some of the oldest automobiles, such as The Daimler Motorized Carriage and a replica of the Benz Patent Motor car, both from 1886, famous racing cars and futuristic research vehicles, exemplified by almost 90 years of the great Silver Arrows. These cars are the centerpiece of the permanent exhibition comprising more than nine levels of open space.

Mercedes-Simplex 40 PS

The new museum replaced the former one from 1986. Daimler and Benz-Company has long held historical collections maintained by the original companies, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG), founded in November 1890 by Gottlieb Daimler, and Benz & Cie, founded 1883. Assembling a historical vehicle collection began in 1921 by DMG and Benz & Cie.

As distinctive as the cars, the facility was designed by Dutch architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio van Berkel & Bos, Amsterdam, and built from 2003 to 2006. The walls and ceilings are a double helix reminiscent of the double helix of human DNA, where the genetic information is stored.

“In the early 2000s, this construction process was at the very limit of technical feasibility,” Weiler explains. The structure of the building has unique individual components such as 1,800 triangular panes of glass, no two identical.

Mercedes-Benz 500 K Spezial-Roadster

“This also makes the Mercedes-Benz Museum an architectural symbol of the visionary strength of those who invented and developed the automobile,” he explains. “Their energy has remained in the genes of the Mercedes-Benz brand ever since.”

Seven Legends

Weiler discussed seven Mercedes-Benz legends in the museum for Highline Autos readers.

M4 - 01/19

Benz Patent Motor Car, 1886 (replica)–– This 58-ci one-cylinder four-stroke car was the world’s first gasoline-powered automobile: a “vehicle without horses.” Unlike Daimler’s earlier motorized carriage, the motor car formed an autonomous entity of chassis and engine. Carl Benz designed it as a three-wheeler because he was not satisfied with the single-pivot steering systems available for four-wheeled vehicles at the time.

“Testing begins in October 1885,” a company-supplied history recounts. “On 29 January 1886, he takes a step of historical significance when he submits an application for his ‘vehicle with gas engine operation’ to the Imperial Patent Office. The patent specification for DRP 37435 is recognized today as the ‘birth certificate’ of the automobile and bears the name ‘Patent-Motorwagen’ (‘Patent Motor Car’) for the world’s first automobile.”

Top speed was 10 mph, about one-third of a horse’s, but the transportation revolution was on its way.

Mercedes-Benz Museum: Faszination Technik

40 PS Mercedes-Simplex, 1902 –– Produced until 1909 by DMG, this early-20th-century car continued the use of the Mercedes name as the company brand, rather than Daimler. Mercédès Adrienne Ramona Manuela Jellinek (1889–1929) was the daughter of Austrian automobile entrepreneur Emil Jellinek and his first wife, Rachel Goggmann Cenrobert. He was an important customer and dealer who also influenced the birth of the Mercedes-Benz brand in 1902.

Designed in Stuttgart by Wilhelm Maybach, Gottlieb Daimler’s companion and chief constructor, this 4-cylinder, 414-ci 40 PS Mercedes-Simplex is the oldest Mercedes in existence. It was the direct successor to the 35 PS Mercedes designed by Wilhelm Maybach, which was the world’s first automobile of the modern age. The addition of the word “Simplex” related to the relative ease with which it handled for the period. Its high construction standards, the 44 horsepower and a top speed of 50 mph was immediately popular with royalty and aristocrats.

Mercedes-Benz 500 K special roadster, 1936 –– With just 34 units produced between 1934 and 1936, this was another car of the well-to-do. Together with the Grand Mercedes, the elegant 8-cylinder was the company’s 1930s show-piece. Of the eight bodywork versions, the special roadster was the most appealing, elegant and expensive. The 306ci engine outputs 100 hp and reaches 100 mph.

M4 - Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé, ‘Gullwing,’ 1954 –– Based on the successful competition version of 1952, the W194, the legendary car has a sturdy frame weighing only 110 pounds. However, the upward-opening doors were needed because of the high frame side members. The 182-ci 6-cylinder engine propels the car to an outstanding 162 mph. Production continued until 1957.

Mercedes-AMG GT Concept, 2016 –– This luxury performer is from AMG, the sports car and performance brand of Mercedes-Benz. The operating strategy of the AMG GT Concept is derived from the hybrid powerpack of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 racing car. This is a bi-turbo combustion and electric engine capable of 186 mph.

“Through perfect proportions, it creates a puristic design with the emphasis on its surfaces, featuring sensuous shapes and is hot and cool at the same time,” said Gorden Wagener, chief design officer Daimler AG in 2017.

Mercedes-AMG GT Concept - 2017

Legendary Silver Arrows –– Racing has been integral to Mercedes-Benz success since the first automobile race in 1894. The legendary Silver Arrows exemplify that. In the museum, the cars sit racing style on a steep-bank curve, accompanied by touring and sports cars, rally cars and race trucks.

From the first Silver Arrow in 1934, drivers such as Manfred von Brauchitsch, Rudolf Caracciola and Hermann Lang provided early exposure and victories.

The second Silver Arrow era began in the early 1950s, bringing even more impressive results in Formula 1 with numerous victories and world championship titles.

Mercedes-Benz Museum Mythos 7

The Silver Arrow tradition was renewed again in 1989 and 1990, when Mercedes-Benz sports prototype cars won two world championships. This record continues in Formula 1 and DTM German Touring Car Championships.

Other successes in the international car-rallying arena, in the Monte Carlo rally and the grueling Paris-Dakar long-distance rallies, for example, are matched by many impressive victories in truck-racing competitions.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racing sports car, 1955 –– Stirling Moss and navigator, car-journalist Denis Jenkinson, delivered this 182-ci 8-cylinder car to the 1955 Mille Miglia victory line in record time; that mark is still unbeaten, Weiler says. Top speed is 186. The number of the car, 722, references the morning start time out of Brescia.

Mercedes-Benz Museum Mythos 7

Known as model W 196 S, this car did not participate in any Formula 1 races, but the racing version, W 196 R, had this role and was widely successful. Says Weiler: “The success of the 300 SLR ensured that Mercedes-Benz would have the 1955 sports-car world championship title to add to its triumph in Formula 1.”

The Mercedes-Benz Museum is open daily Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., including public holidays. Admission is free for children up to the age of 14. The facility is completely barrier-free. More information is available at

Thanks to Friederike Valet, communications office for The Mercedes-Benz Museum, and Victoria Larson, principal of VKLarsonCommunications, for their assistance in realizing this story. Access to the museum is permitted only for immunized individuals (vaccinated or recovered) on presentation of proof of antigen or PCR testing. If you or someone you know has a GreatGarage and would like it to be considered for an upcoming issue, please email us at


Stuttgart: Cityscapes and Landscapes

Art, Architecture, Cars, Wines and “Herrgottsbscheißerle”: Dial in Stuttgart, Germany, on your travel GPS.


The capital city of Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart, is in a valley basin near the Black Forest in southwest Germany, two hours south by direct high-speed train from the Frankfurt Airport.

Automobile aficionados can tour the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums, showcasing the history of those great marques, says Victoria Larson, principal of VKLarsonCommunications, which coordinates Tourism Marketing Baden-Württemberg for the press in the U.S. and Canada. She adds that Gottlieb Daimler was born in Schorndorf, a town near Stuttgart; here he and Wilhelm Maybach built the world’s first high-speed gasoline engine in 1883.

Instead of moving horizontally, those with an architectural passion can soar vertically at the 710.7-foot-high Television Tower, prototypical of others that followed worldwide. The innovative Stuttgart 21 rail project is evolving; an exhibition in the InfoTurmStuttgart documents its progress.

Weinimpressionen, Fotowettbewerb 2008

The International Style masterpiece, the Weissenhof Estate, includes two houses created by famed architect Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret [1887–1965]); they were named UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites in 2016. Other award-winning buildings include the Württemberg State Library Extension and the John Cranko School of Ballet.

The 60-year-old Stuttgart Ballet, the Stuttgart Museum of Art and the Stuttgart State Gallery are major cultural attractions. And, Oskar Schlemmer (1888–1943), born in nearby Baden-Bade, was a distinguished Bauhaus-inspired painter and sculptor. The Nazis condemned his modernist work as decadent; today it is celebrated.

“Stuttgart’s cityscape is defined by its vineyards, and the local wines have won many prizes,” Larson says. The Stuttgart Wine Trail traverses the vineyards and offers great views from Royal Burial Chapel of the Württemberg Royal Family. The hills around Stuttgart include the “Stäffele,” which are hundreds of steps originally built to access the vineyards; Karlshöhe, which began as quarry in the Middle Ages; and the Eugensplatz, steps leading to a square centered by the figure of the mythological Galatea, beloved of Acis. And, the Museum of Viniculture offers extensive history of the local wines, and in late summer and autumn, the region’s vintners showcase their wines at local wine festivals.


The wine complements culinary specialties, such as Herrgottsbscheißerle, “Swindlers of the Almighty,” also called Maultaschen, which are raviolilike pasta, and Zwiebelrostbraten, fried steak with onions. You can enjoy both in wine taverns or the seasonal “broom taverns” owned by wine growers. Haute cuisine is here, too, and eight local restaurants hold at least one Michelin star.

The Black Forest has several hiking trails through orchards, gorges and the Rems and Bottwar valleys. These include the 15 “Löwenpfade,” “Lion Trails.” Another trail, through the Weissenhof Estate, climbs the Birkenkopf, a memorial hill built from the 1.5-million cubic meters of ruins and rubble from World War II.

For more information, email Victoria Larson at or, for brochures and tickets,