Mercedes-Benz Museum.
The “33 Extras” are a special feature: they bring automobile history and automotive culture to life with examples of often surprising details.


160 vehicles and a total of 1,500 exhibits are showcased in the varied permanent collection at the Mercedes-Benz Museum. The “33 Extras” are a particular highlight: they are distributed throughout the entire museum and can bring the history of personal mobility and motoring culture to life using details that are often surprising.

For this article, the “33 Extras” have been divided into three sections with focal topics: “Cars and Technology”, “Vehicles and Pop Culture” and “People and Mobility”.

Episode 1: Cars and technology.

Discover eleven of the total of “33 Extras” that highlight the topic of cars and technology. Without technology there would be no cars and no personal mobility. In 1886, Carl Benz invented the Patent Motor Car, and Gottlieb Daimler developed the motor carriage. This was the beginning of the history of car innovation. The “33 Extras” in the Mercedes-Benz Museum highlight individual aspects of this process and show clearly how automotive technology, and with it our everyday lives, have changed over the decades.


Legends 1 – between the Benz Vis-à-Vis and the Benz Motor Velocipede

The dirt typically found on unmetalled roads gave the mudguard its name. On the one hand, the mudguards protected passengers and cars from road dirt and moisture, and, on the other hand, they were a component that incorporated design and aerodynamics. For many decades now, the once free-standing mudguards have been integrated into the body as wings. 

Hand crank.

Legends 2 – between Benz 20/35 PS Landaulet and Mercedes 75 PS Doppelphaeton (open tourer)

The hand crank was used to start a combustion engine by hand. Switch on the ignition – turn the crank – the engine starts. It may look easy, but it's physically very hard work. In addition, the motorist had to be prepared for a possible kick-back to avoid arm injuries such as the dreaded “chauffeur’s fracture”. That’s where the electric starter was a blessing. It became established from about 1910 onwards. Today, starting a car is even easier: a simple matter of pushing a button.


Legends 6 – workbench (room side)

In 1969, Apollo 11 flew to the moon with less than 100 kilobyte computer read only memory. Thirty years later, at the turn of the new millennium, a Mercedes-Benz passenger car had control units on board that had no less than 40 megabytes. Today’s vehicles are mobile computers – including data uplinks via radio.

Steering wheel.

Legends 1 – between Daimler Motorised Business Vehicle and Benz Dos-à-Dos

In 1894, the car was fitted with a steering wheel for the first time. It celebrated its premiere in the first motorsport competition in history – the race from Paris to Rouen. Today’s steering wheels are no longer just the method for steering the vehicle. They are now used to operate numerous systems, such as the on-board computer, voice control, telecommunications and multimedia.


Collection 2 – on the Benz 3-tonne truck

At first, it was not at all clear how the driver was to use his or her feet – every car manufacturer arranged the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals differently. Then, in 1908, the Prussian military decreed a uniform pedal arrangement in army vehicles. This is how the order, which is still in use today, of accelerator, brake and clutch (from right to left) as applied to imperial army trucks came about. However, it took some time for the system to catch on. Even in the 1920s, the number and arrangement of pedals in civilian cars were anything but uniform.


Legends 3 – Diesel and supercharger

16 km/h was the top speed of the Benz Patent Motor Car of 1886. But cars rapidly became faster and the authorities imposed speed limits for reasons of road safety. This meant that the speedometer became an essential feature of cars in order to be able to monitor one’s own speed. In Mercedes-Benz cars, this is now integrated in the pioneering MBUX multimedia system.

Windscreen wipers.

Collection 1

At the very beginning, people sitting in a car were completely unprotected. The windscreen then put an end to the constant flow of wind directly striking the occupants. However, rain drops on the glass screen inhibited the driver’s view. In 1903, American Mary Anderson invented a “window cleaning device” – the first windscreen wiper. There have been many evolutionary steps since then, but the basic principle has not changed.

Rearview mirror.

Collection 1

The rearview mirror makes it easier to see what is happening behind the car. But this component, too, had to be invented first. That happened at the end of the 19th century thanks to Dorothy Levitt, an Englishwoman who was a car enthusiast. She used a “fairly large hand mirror” as her first rearview mirror.

Seat belt.

Legends 5 – workbench (room side), to the right of the hot-water rocket

Simply grasp the buckle, pull it over your hips and upper body and fasten it in the lock – putting on the seat belt before setting off has become a matter of course for vehicle drivers and passengers alike. The first of these were lap belts, for example in the 300 SL Roadster (W 198) in the 1950s.

Vehicle tool kit.

Collection 1 – Mercedes-Benz 12/55 PS Pullman saloon

How often is the on-board tool kit still used today? In the past, preparation and maintenance work as well as repairs were part of the motoring experience. Today, the many electronic components make do-it-yourself jobs impossible, and the tyres are often changed by a specialist garage.  

Ignition key.

Legends 6 – Mercedes-Benz 200 D platform

Ignition keys have existed for decades now. Since 1997, Mercedes-Benz has replaced the mechanical ignition lock for the first time in its passenger car model series with an electronic “drive authorisation system”. Today’s ignition keys are mini-computers or smartphones.

Episode 2/3: Vehicles and pop culture.

Discover eleven more “33 Extras”, this time centring around “Vehicles and Pop Culture”. The car with all its facets has itself become a firm part of pop culture while simultaneously dominating it in many ways. As a result, advertising materials, accessories and vehicle equipment reflect the culture of the world surrounding us.

Radiator emblem.

Collection 4 – on the Japanese Emperor’s Mercedes-Benz 770 “Grand Mercedes” Pullman Saloon

Positioned proudly for all to see as a brand emblem – or a small sculpture – at the very front of the vehicle – the figure atop the radiator. From the 1920s onwards there was an outright boom of these mobile works of art. The Mercedes star was also available as a radiator emblem from this point onwards. It is one of the best known trademarks in the world.

Veedol woman.

Collection 2 – collectors’ display cabinet

The Veedol woman is an advertising classic. The swift ice skater made her first appearance in 1952. She made the brand’s lubricants famous thanks to her speed, effortlessness and an erotic charisma. She most of all became the companion of the “captains of country roads” as a sheet metal silhouette for the radiator.

CB radio.

Collection 2 – between Mercedes-Benz LP 1513 fuel oil tanker truck and Mercedes-Benz 1624 car transporter

Long journey on your own? That can be very dull. CB radio (citizens band radio) provides a solution. Everyone’s radio makes wireless communication a reality. However, usually only with a range of a few kilometres as it is limited by the topography and type of antenna.

Parcel shelf.

Collection 5 – in the Mercedes-Benz 250 CE

Where should you put your fine hat during the car journey? Automotive manufacturers provided a solution: the parcel shelf. This permanently installed luggage compartment cover is the perfect place to store headgear. And a popular stage for accessories like bobblehead figures.

Ladies’ hat.

Legends 3 – workbench, next to OM 59 diesel engine

In the early 20th century, women started driving cars. They wore hats – and consequently linked usefulness with elegance. However, headgear with a wide brim is impractical in cars, most of which were open-top variants. The closely fitting hat is a lot more practical and for this reason, it prevailed.

Motorists’ club.

Collection 3 – at the Mercedes-Benz 814 recovery truck

Digital radio and the smartphone represent standard entertainment media in cars nowadays. But back in the day before car radios existed occupants used to sing together. Early motorists’ clubs supported such lively pastimes with songbooks.


Collection 4 – collectors’ display cabinet

Some consider smoking an essential part of driving. Automotive manufacturers offer dedicated “smoking packages” – and thus also an integrated ashtray. In the early days, ashtrays were merely fitted to the instrument panel as required.

Drive-in cinema.

Legends 4 – between Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster and Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “Uhlenhaut-Coupé”

Pulling up directly in front of the big screen and enjoying the movie from the comfort of your own vehicle: the first drive-in cinema opened in 1933 in New Jersey, USA. In Germany, the first drive-in cinema opened its gates in 1960 in Gravenbruch near Frankfurt/Main. Later there would also be readings, theatre performances and concerts in this special event format.

Car wash.

Collection 5 – collectors’ display cabinet

Anyone who loves their vehicle not only drives it, but also looks after it. Car washes have been around for over 100 years – everything is done automatically here. Hand car washes involve more of an effort, but they are also more individual because they are more effective in cleaning in all those nooks and crannies.

Scent trees.

Legends 4 – between Mercedes-Benz 300 and Mercedes-Benz 180

Poor air and unpleasant odours in a car interior are definitely not what you want. Ventilation and air conditioning ensure a constant air exchange. Opening windows can also help – as does a scent tree.

Saint of motorists.

Collection 3 – collectors’ display cabinet

Many cultures have a saint of motorists – or patron saint of mobility. Saint Christopher is one of them. Many of us travel around in our vehicles with a likeness of him. In most cases it adorns the instrument panel.

Episode 3/3: People and mobility.

Mobility forms an integral part of the car. And the car serves us people with a purpose. Fittingly, eleven further “33 Extras” have been grouped together under the heading “People and Mobility”. We invite you to continue to explore: these Extras once again create a link between diverse objects to thus underline the claim of this series of exhibits: describing varied cultural aspects that are directly or indirectly linked to the car.


Collection 4 – at the Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman state limousine

John Lennon, Pope Pius XI and the Japanese Emperor: they and many other celebrities enjoyed Mercedes-Benz “Pullman” limousines and thus luxury and representative vehicles at the highest level. The designation originates from particularly comfortable railway carriages. The Mercedes-Maybach S-Class continues this tradition.

Driving licence.

Legends 2 – workbench, behind the Mercedes 35 PS chassis

You can’t legally drive without a driving licence: this is the case in almost any country worldwide. The German Empire officially introduced the driving licence as a certificate for “charioteers’ fitness to drive” in 1909. Who knows, maybe some day it will become superfluous when vehicles can move around autonomously?

Leather hood.

Legends 7 – at the “Motorsport prior to 1934” terminal

Throughout the early decades of the car, the leather hood was the headgear of choice for sporty drivers: it was closely fitting, thus protecting them from the elements. Nowadays, it is celebrating a stylish renaissance in matching classic cars.


Legends 1 – at the Daimler Motor Carriage

No, the German designation for petrol – “Benzin” – was not inspired by Carl Benz. However, he knew how to use the substance for the world’s first car in 1886. Plugging in the charging cable on a car will come just as naturally in the future as grabbing the fuel pump nozzle is today.


Legends 7 – at the “Rally Sport” terminal

Five and a half metres of paper in an aluminium housing featuring a Perspex lens with densely written information about the details of a 1,600-kilometre route across Italy: in 1955, co-driver Denis Jenkinson read out almost uninterruptedly to racing driver Stirling Moss from this document. This long list helped both claim a legendary victory at the Mille Miglia in their 300 SLR. And ever since, notes about the route have been known as pacenotes.


Legends 5 – at the Mercedes-Benz 230 SL

Regular statutory vehicle checks are known as the main inspection in Germany. In Germany, the first institutions to carry out these tests were what is now known as Technische Überwachungsvereine (TÜV, technical monitoring associations) as early as the beginning of the 20th century. Other countries initiated similar, regular tests. Even though there have been further testing organisations in Germany for many years, the acronym of the former monopolist remains a synonym for regular vehicle inspections: “my car needs to pass its TÜV”.

Speed camera.

Collection 3 – at the Mercedes-Benz C 220 CDI Estate police patrol car

For decades now, speeding drivers have had to watch out not to get caught by speed cameras put up by regulatory authorities. There are various methods to measure the speed of objects – including radar beams. Consequently, speed cameras are colloquially known in Germany as “radar traps”.

Road map.

Collection 1 – collectors’ display cabinet

The car brings about liberty, but this requires orientation. As a result, special maps for car drivers were published around 100 years ago. Digital map data has long since been available. It is important for contemporary navigation systems as well as increasingly more efficient assistance systems and the future of autonomous driving.

Road sign.

Legends 2 – verge, to the right of the Mercedes lettering

Which road will lead me to my desired destination? Does the upcoming stretch of road feature any particular hazards? Who has right of way? What is the speed limit? Road signs provide answers to many such questions. Many of these signs show symbols that are well understood all over the world.

Car radio.

Collection 5 – at the Mercedes-Benz 170

In-car entertainment is pleasant. The first devices, devised almost 100 years ago, offered radio reception from a speaker – ultra-modern! Further evolution: FM stereo, audio cassettes to play recordings, then CDs and ultimately surround sound and digital streaming.

First-aid kit.

Collection 3 – between Mercedes-Benz C 32 AMG Estate F 1 Medical Car and Mercedes-Benz 320 ambulance

A first-aid kit can save lives. For this reason, it has been mandatory for cars in Germany for so many years. Accidents can happen at any time and if they do, first-aid materials need to be at hand.