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Wide selection.

“Which one shall we take?” Barbara Dünkel, 53, asks her husband Andreas, 55. This is not an easy question – not one to which he has a ready answer, and not one that would be easy to answer for any lover of classic automobiles. After all, the Dünkels have a fairly wide selection of automotive gems to choose from. 

The Mercedes-Benz 170 S-D, a panel van first registered in 1954 whose previous owner was once the motor racing legend and five-time Formula 1 World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio, is not really a suitable vehicle for excursions. It is too cramped and uncomfortable on the driver’s and co-driver’s seats. And in the rear there are various old tools in boxes, along with the spare tyre, lubricants and spark plugs. Most of this assortment dates back to the 1950s. So the light-blue “Fangio” is out of the running.

Andreas Dünkel, businessman and qualified car mechanic, sometimes tinkers with his light-blue Fangio.

Andreas Dünkel, businessman and qualified car mechanic, sometimes tinkers with his Fangio. 

Barbara and Andreas Dünkel travelling in style in the Mercedes-Benz 300 S Cabriolet A.

Travelling in style in the 300 S Cabriolet A, produced in the 1950s.

“Let’s take the Cabriolet.”

“After his career as a racing driver, Juan Manuel Fangio became general manager of a Mercedes-Benz outlet in Buenos Aires – and his company employees used the 170 S-D as a service and workshop van,” Andreas Dünkel explains. The value of the vehicle? Both Dünkels shrug their shoulders. Its value is of little importance. They simply struck it lucky, as collectors sometimes do. But now the couple, who got to know each other during a motorcycle tour in Italy 30 years ago and married three years later, are looking up at the sky. It’s overcast. Not looking good. They consult their weather app.

Light rain is drawing in from the north. Rather fresh conditions. “Let’s take the 300 S Cabriolet,” she proposes somewhat surprisingly. “Alright, but don’t forget your scarf, and I’ll put a hat on,” he answers with a smile. They head over to the house together to get changed. 

Back to the 1950s.

When they re-emerge, somebody seems to have turned the clock back – a very long way. The Dünkels have dressed in the style of the 1950s. When they take excursions, they like to match their attire to the era in which the relevant classic car was a sight to behold on the roads.

At home in Schemmerhofen between Stuttgart and Lake Constance, the Dünkels live a small-scale version of what they have created on a large scale outside: “Space for mobile passion”. This is the advertising slogan of their company Motorworld.

The Munich-born advertising manager and her husband, both car mechanic and a businessman, who grew up in Schemmer­hofen, opened the first Motorworld in Böblingen ten years ago. When they purchased the site of the former regional airport – covering an area of 25,000 square metres – it was a deserted ruin. Yet the Dünkels saw the possibilities, invested and built up the first Motorworld, something of an automotive theme park for fans of older and younger classics plus super sports cars – with ­workshops, showrooms, shops, a hotel and catering. 

Barbara Dünkel shows us around the property. There are treasures such as this old fire service vehicle to be seen everywhere.

Barbara Dünkel shows us around the property. There are treasures such as this old fire service vehicle to be seen everywhere.

A flood of visitors from all over the world.

“At present there are cars to the value of around 250 million euros in Böblingen, where we recorded a flood of visitors numbering over 600,000 people from all over the world last year,” says Andreas Dünkel. Those who wish to can spend the night in the V8 Hotel, and even sleep in an S-Class or “Ponton” bed. The Mercedes Suite covers three storeys. The gratifyingly still down-to-earth Dünkels operate an additional Motorworld in Cologne, and further branches are planned or in progress: the ambitious southern Germans want to expand to Munich and Metzingen, the Ruhr, Berlin, Rüsselsheim, Zurich, Luxembourg, Mallorca and even to China. They have a compelling passion for automobiles – and a particular preference for Mercedes-Benz.

Their private collection includes models from the 1920s and 1930s, 300 SL, 190 SL, Pagoda, Ponton, R/C 107, 190 E, 200 D, Unimog and many more Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles usually from decades long past, as well as a few new AMG models. What do their daughters and son drive? “Well, of course, cars from precisely the years they were born,” Barbara Dünkel answers with a wink. “A Mustang and two Mercedes-Benz.”

Unrivalled in its beauty.

But now the Dünkels fetch the ivory (DB 620) coloured 300 S Cabriolet A from the garage. And what a garage! It’s actually more of a museum, with a bar and study, stylishly decorated with racing and adver­tising posters, photos and items from automotive history. A treasure trove of rare vehicles – including a Mercedes-Benz barn find which they have left as they found it: rusty outside and straw inside. Why don’t they restore it? “It’s too beautiful to do that,” she replies. 

The W 188, whose soft top they now open with practised hands, was first presented in October 1951. “Unbelievable in performance and comfort, unrivalled in its beauty.” This is how Mercedes-Benz advertised its “top model of particularly representative cars with a sporty touch” at the time. 

The study adjacent to the “garage”.

The study adjacent to the “garage”.

In the workshop, there are all the tools necessary to get the two Mercedes-Benz classic cars there in shape.

The workshop is older than the cars currently inside.

Passion for automobiles.

Andreas and Barbara Dünkel drive past the nearby gravel plant in the Cabriolet A, one of only 203 examples to ever be produced. His grandfather founded the plant 86 years ago – and 40 years ago his father started collecting cars. He and his three brothers, says the western and rock music fan, inherited their passion for automobiles from him.

A narrow path leads from the plant to an island in the flooded gravel pit. “Rock Island” is what the Dünkels call this tiny island with its large log cabin. They lived in it for a while after falling in love during their ­motorcycle tour by Lake Garda. This is where Barbara entertained her “clique” from Munich, and Andreas his “Swabian buddies”.

On the lookout in the flea markets of the world.

“This is where Andreas made his marriage proposal to me back then,” she tells me on the now rather rickety wooden bridge. The couple hold hands and take a leisurely stroll.

There is a cool wind, but fortunately the rain stays away. Barbara Dünkel soon began to share her husband’s passion for classics, she says – she is always on the lookout for all sorts of finds and contemporary artefacts from automobile history in the flea markets of the world: “rarities, kitsch, headlamps, certificates, photos – just about anything, really. We live our dream both privately and professionally. You could say that this is our small Motorworld – and out there is the big one, with which we seem to have caught the spirit of the times.” 

Taking longer holidays is not really an option for these two automobile enthusiasts. “One week at a time is already a lot for us,” explains Andreas Dünkel, who flies to various destinations on business trips at least 50 times each year.

Next morning there is another change of clothing. This time in the style of the 1930s, as they are taking a trip in the black 500 K Cabriolet B dating from 1935. Only 296 examples of this model were built, and it is one of the legendary technical and design classics from the history of Mercedes-Benz. He holds the passenger door open for her, then takes his seat behind the wheel. The Dünkels set off on another short trip around their property, where there is so much to be seen and admired.

Image gallery.

Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert CO₂-Emissionen kombiniert Stromverbrauch im kombinierten Testzyklus

Product may vary after press date on 19.07.2019.

1 Die angegebenen Werte wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren ermittelt. Es handelt sich um die „NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 1 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

4 Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, Stromverbrauch und CO₂-Emissionen sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe des WLTP-Prüfverfahrens ermittelt und in NEFZ-Werte korreliert. Eine EG-Typgenehmigung und Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.

6 Stromverbrauch und Reichweite wurden auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind abhängig von der Fahrzeugkonfiguration. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

7 Angaben zu Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe der UN/ECE-Regelung Nr. 101 ermittelt. Die EG-Typgenehmigung und eine Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.