The history of the automobile industry covering 16,500 square metres over nine levels, 160 vehicles and in excess of 1,500 exhibits overall: Welcome to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. Many visitors are in awe of the sheer extent of history displayed here. Firstly, let us provide you with a little insider knowledge.
1. The world’s first motorcycle was a Daimler.
To be more precise, a vehicle by Gottlieb Daimler. Built in collaboration with his chief designer, Wilhelm Maybach, in the year 1885. The first vehicle anywhere to feature a high-speed combustion engine, they named it the “Reitwagen” (riding car). The facts: 0.38 kW (0.5 PS) performance! Top speed 12 km/h! The Reitwagen is a sensation. Indeed, it is the direct predecessor of the car, which was unveiled on the world stage one year later. An exact replica of the Reitwagen is on display in the Legends 1 area “Pioneers – The Invention of the Automobile”.
World’s first motorcycle and first vehicle featuring a high-speed combustion engine: the “Reitwagen” by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach from the year 1885.
High-performance automobile of its time: Mercedes 35 PS at the beginning of the 20th century.
2. Very early automobiles required more coolant than fuel.
Hard to imagine: Very early automobiles required more coolant than fuel. It cooled the combustion engine, but in doing so the coolant evaporated. The decisive breakthrough came in 1900 with the honeycomb radiator devised by Wilhelm Maybach. Incorporating square tubes rather than round tubes, it provided greater throughflow capacity and the smaller gap between the small tubes enabled a much higher cooling effect. In contrast to the tubular radiator developed in 1897, likewise invented by Maybach, the water requirement was reduced by half to only nine litres for every 100 kilometres. The honeycomb radiator was therefore a key invention for the high-performance car. The first vehicle built using this innovation was the Mercedes 35 PS, also from the year 1900. This can be viewed in the Legends 2 area “Mercedes – Birth of the Brand”.
Take a seat at the wheel: for example at the helm of the O 302 World Cup team bus used by the 1974 German national squad.
3. It is also possible to actually sit in two of the vehicles.
160 vehicles are on display in the Mercedes-Benz museum. These include, for example, the very first automobile built in 1886, passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles, milestones from all eras – there is something for everyone. As attractive as some of the exhibits are, drawing in visitors and fans alike as if by magnets, and despite the close proximity at which they may be inspected: the exhibits are locked.
It is not possible to sit inside most of the vehicles. Two of the vehicles, however, can be accessed: the Mercedes-Benz Econic NGT 2628 garbage truck (Collection 3 “Gallery of Helpers”) and the Mercedes-Benz O 302 World Cup team bus used by the 1974 German national squad (Collection 4 “Gallery of Names”) – All aboard!
Bright red, and thus perfectly camouflaged: the Mercedes 2-litre racing car from 1924 wins the Targa Florio in Italy.
4. The reason why there is one red Mercedes race car.
The red 2-litre racing car “Targa Florio” is exhibited in the centre of the Legends 7 area “Races and Records”. This colour is most unusual for a Mercedes racing car. Red paintwork is traditionally reserved for Italian teams. German racing cars are white, and subsequently silver-coloured. In 1924, however, Mercedes were adamant that they should win the Targa Florio endurance race in Sicily. In order to avoid potential hindering of foreign cars by Italian fans, all three racing cars from Stuttgart were painted red using brand new compressor technology, contrary to usual practice. Consequently, the Italian fans associated the Mercedes racing cars with the Italian teams, allowing Mercedes to take victory in Sicily unhindered, with Christian Werner in the driving seat.
5. The biggest artificial tornado in the world.
The Mercedes-Benz Museum has its very own practical tornado: in the event of a fire, the vortex drives the smoke upwards and out of the building. It is generated in the atrium. Arranged at an angle in the walls, 144 air vents combine with a turbine installed in the roof of the atrium to immediately generate a powerful column of air, swirling around its own axis at a high rate of speed. And “poof”, the smoke is gone from the museum. With a height of 34,4 metres, this is a world record for an artificially generated tornado. It was measured in 2007 by the “Guinness Book of Records” – shortly after the museum opened.
In the “Guinness Book of Records”: at 34.4 metres, the smoke extraction tornado in the Mercedes-Benz Museum is the highest artificially generated whirlwind.
Visitors from all over the world: the Mercedes-Benz Museum has accumulated the flags of 193 member states of the United Nations (UNO).
6. The Mercedes-Benz Museum has accumulated 193 national flags.
A matter of honour: whenever a state visitor or honorary guest attends the Mercedes-Benz Museum from another country, the national flag of their respective country is hoisted in front of the building. As a result, the museum has now accumulated the flags of all 193 member states of the United Nations (UNO). This is due to guests having visited the exhibition from each of these countries. Approximately 60 percent of visitors hail from other countries. At more than ten percent, Chinese visitors make up the largest national group, followed by guests from the USA, France and Switzerland. Hardly surprising then, that all informative literature, as well as the audio guide incorporates eight different languages, and the tours conducted by the museums guides are offered in several languages. Our nine millionth visitor walked through our doors in April 2018.
7. Every one of the 1,800 triangular facade panels is unique.
Not only is the Mercedes-Benz Museum one of the most popular museums in the world, it is also an architectural wonder. The unusual design with three sections of the building intertwined with one another is based on the UN Studio office in the Netherlands. Whether viewed from inside or outside, not one of the outer walls will give the impression of being straight. This proved to be a real challenge during construction: the concrete was cast to form highly complex prefabricated parts, so-called “twists”. In addition, the 1,800 facade panels were manufactured entirely individually – no two panels are identical. Sophisticated computer processes are required for these calculations. The Mercedes-Benz Museum was pushing boundaries even in its construction.
Individual glass panels: 1,800 facade panels on the Mercedes-Benz Museum, and every single one unique.
Immersing oneself into the surroundings and another time: the materials used in both floor and walls in the Mercedes-Benz Museum is no coincidence. In this image, Mythos 5 with airbag material.
8. No coincidence: Materials used in both floor and walls in the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
The choice of materials in the Mercedes-Benz Museum is no coincidence. Rather, the materials are specifically selected to help the visitors fully immerse themselves in their surroundings and another time. In the Legends areas, for example, visitors experience smoked oak underfoot – a typical floor covering for mechanical workshops. The early years of car manufacture are also referred to as the brass age – and the walls in the Legends 2 area “Mercedes – Birth of the Brand” are therefore decked out with brass. And in the Legends 5 area “Visionaries – Safety and the Environment”, the walls are covered with original airbag material.
Entertaining journey through the automobile history: the audio guide for the Mercedes-Benz Museum also offers kids their own individual tour.
9. Audio guide for kids.
Kids love visiting the Mercedes-Benz Museum. After all, there is so much there to discover! The audio guide provides an easy and intuitive aid for them in this regard.
This offers kids their own individual tour, with descriptions on the exhibits and clearly arranged pointers around the museum. Excitement is pre-programmed, and a tour through the automobile history becomes an entertaining journey.
Grilles against vultures: Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing car from the year 1952. Karl Kling and Hans Klenk win the Carrera Panamericana, despite a most unexpected incident.
10. The grille in front of the windshield on the 300 SL racing car.
19th November, 1952. Three 300 SL racing cars (W 194) set off on the first of eight stages of the renowned South American endurance race, the Carrera Panamericana. A dramatic event unfolds on the very first day: travelling in excess of 200 km/h, the windshield of vehicle number 4 is struck by a bird of prey. Driver Karl Kling is startled, co-driver Hans Klenk is rendered unconscious – the bird has crashed through the windshield hitting him on the head. Kling shakes his co-driver to bring him back to his senses. He urges him to continue driving. Upon reaching the end of the stage, which the pair achieve in third place despite the incident, a new windshield is fitted in the vehicle, as well as four metal bars as additional protection. The original vehicle is on display in the Legends 7 area “Races and Records”. Oh, and incidentally: the duo ended up winning the race, and a second 300 SL came home in the runner-up spot.