What makes a Mercedes-Benz car a dream car? Is it the design? Perhaps its performance and dynamism? Or is it the wealth of technical innovations? Answer: All of those! After all, a dream car also embodies the desire to make one’s own dreams come true. Visionary power, technical creativity and passion for excellent products are the factors that allow such cars to be created. These may be sparkling gems of the brand’s history such as the 300 SL Coupé (W 198) from the mid-1950s or vehicles that boldly pre-empt the future of motoring such as the C 111-II.
A family of dreams: cars of the Classic Insight “Dream Cars by Mercedes-Benz” in a test section of the Immendingen Test and Technology Centre.
The calling card of the pioneer of modern automobility: the type plate of the Benz Patent Motor Car from 1886, seen here as an authentic replica.
A key ingredient in the nature of a dream car is the very personal relationship between a person and his or her car. This has been the case since the beginning of motoring history: in 1886, Carl Benz’s vision became reality when he completed his Patent Motor Car. Benz created the machine that still today shapes individual mobility all over the world. At Daimler’s Immendingen Test and Technology Centre, it was now possible to experience what this felt like over 135 years ago at the Classic Insight “Dream Cars by Mercedes-Benz”.
The engine in the Patent Motor Car gurgles its baritone song and makes the entire vehicle on its filigree spoked wheels vibrate in tune with its single cylinder. Then the lever to the left of the bench-like seat is pushed forwards and the replica of the first motor car in world history is set in motion. This is not a system that can be operated with timidity, but rather one that requires a decisive grip. The slim metal bar is used to accelerate and decelerate. The steering lever acts on the single front wheel and the high-mounted sitting position increases the sensation of speed.
Time travel: the Benz Patent Motor Car outside a building at the state-of-the-art Daimler Test and Technology Centre in Immendingen as part of the Classic Insight “Dream Cars by Mercedes-Benz”.
The drive mechanism of the dream of individual mobility that has become reality: engine and flywheel of the Benz Patent Motor Car, the first motor car in history.
Before setting off on a journey with the Benz Patent Motor Car, the engine has to be started by spinning the heavy flywheel, which requires equal amounts of strength and skill in order to get the timing right. It was in a further development of this first motor car in history that Bertha Benz undertook the first long-distance journey in the history of mobility in a motor car in 1888. This was yet another dream come true. And the echoes of that journey can still be heard today.
And he was right: back in 1953, U.S. importer Maximilian E. Hoffman expounded to the Mercedes-Benz Board of Management in vivid language how eagerly an open super sports car of the brand with the star would be received by customers in North America. First of all, the production model of the same name (W 198), derived from the 300 SL (W 194) racing sports car, came onto the market in 1954 as the iconic “Gullwing” coupé. Its gullwing doors and sporting successes, in 1955 in the Mille Miglia, for example, went down in history. In 1957, however, the time was ripe and Mercedes-Benz launched the 300 SL as a roadster. In the 300 SLS derived from it, Paul O’Shea won his racing category in the 1957 USA Sports Car Championship.
As gentle late summer light caresses the paintwork, the blue seems to compete with the sky behind the bands of clouds. Then start up the in-line six-cylinder engine, engage first gear with the ivory-coloured shift lever knob and the roadster glides out onto the country roads. Germany and Korea, Spain and the USA: this journey around the world takes only a quarter of an hour. On the test track in Immendingen, Daimler has recreated various typical national roads which the 300 SL gobbles up with sporting verve. The only thing missing from the West Coast feeling of the 1950s is the sound of the Pacific surf.
A glance into the coming years: the folding headlights of the C 111-II were just one of the details of the breathtaking body that delighted fans. However, this experimental vehicle never went into series production.
The gullwing doors close firmly and lock in place, and the heat of the sun can be felt on the steering wheel rim. Start the car, move onto the approach to the high-speed oval track, enter the track and accelerate on the straight. In no time, the banked turn arrives, and we follow the middle lane. The coupé almost playfully leans into the incline. The speedometer only shows about 150 km/h, but the ride feels as fast as the speed of innovation at Mercedes-Benz around 1970. Fifty years ago, that culminated in this motor car: with a Wankel rotary engine, new materials and a visionary shape – this was the C 111-II. In Immendingen, the sports car tells us the story of the future.
In 1970, people dreamed of the C 111-II and were keen to buy one of these gullwing coupés, but this coveted dream car never made the production line. The entire C 111 family was used purely for research and development as experimental and record-breaking vehicles. The same applied to this C 111-II: this unit was not powered by a Wankel rotary engine, which the engineers at the time were hoping would develop into a dream rotary piston engine for mass production, but by a V8 reciprocating piston engine. That engine was used in one of the experimental vehicles as a reference engine for comparisons of different technologies.
The future wore weissherbst orange: the name of the shimmering orange-metallic paint finish in which the C 111-II fascinated the public and experts in 1970 was internally coded “weissherbst”.
The gullwing doors of the SLS AMG Coupé (centre) are a nod to the legendary 300 SL “Gullwing” from 1954 (W 198, right) and the C 111-II (left).
The performance and sports car brand Mercedes-AMG has always dreamed of producing the optimum high-performance car. AMG repeatedly puts this passion into practice with its groundbreaking top-of-the-range models in the Mercedes-Benz product range – based on production vehicles. Then, the SLS AMG celebrated its premiere in September 2009. This was the first car developed completely independently by AMG in forty years of its company history. And what a car the engineers from Affalterbach created! It was a super sports car that would finally initiate a new era at AMG with its market launch in 2010.
The gullwing doors of the AMG SLS were an aesthetically confident carry-over from the legendary 300 SL “Gullwing”. On the highly dynamic handling course in Immendingen, the 197 model series proved to be a very worthy successor. In exclusive “Black Series” trim, the super 20th-century sports car generated considerable enthusiasm with its fascinating handling characteristics and sophisticated performance technology. Hardly surprising, then, that AMG used this as a basis for its SLS GT 3 in 2010 for a successful first step in customer sport.
Self-assured design with 464 kW (631 PS): with its SLS AMG Coupé Black Series, performance brand Mercedes-AMG demonstrated its development expertise at the highest level.
The future from a single source: one striking feature of the VISION EQS is the “one bow” design. The glass landscape appears to blend seamlessly with the flowing line of the vehicle body.
In visionary Mercedes-Benz dream cars, thoughts about the future and its possibilities always shone through: be it future-orientated drive systems, aesthetics, assistant systems or materials and other ideas. The VISION EQS made clearly understood statements on all these counts. It debuted in 2019 and gave a preview of the future of luxury electric saloons from Mercedes-Benz. Sustainability in drive systems and driving pleasure blended with luxurious perfection in design and materials.
It is, however, not merely the exclusive details, supreme craftsmanship and luxurious materials that make this study a dream car. The VISION EQS is also a statement about the strong future of high-quality Mercedes-Benz vehicles and the passion for self-determined driving:
Automotive luxury as provided by the brand with the star will continue to promote the dream of personal freedom – which is the same dream that moved Carl Benz in 1886.