The best or nothing: ever since the automobile was invented, the Mercedes-Benz brand’s history has been shaped by strong values and ideas. Mercedes-Benz Classic is demonstrating this with its appearance at this year’s Rétromobile exhibition in Paris between 4 and 8 February 2015. For the 40th edition of this specialist show devoted to classic cars, the slogan is “The Past Still Has a Future” (French: “Le passé a toujours un futur”). The continuity of major brand values puts Mercedes-Benz Classic centre stage.
Vehicles from all different eras will be shown, but they all share common strengths. Between them, the Mercedes-Benz 540 K Streamliner (W 29) and the Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG Coupé (C 217) showcase a tradition of innovative engineering, power and travel in superlative comfort. Illustrating the unique history of innovating sports cars and intense interaction between motorsport, research and production are the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing prototype (W 194), the Mercedes-Benz C 111 experimental vehicle and the latest Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) high-performance sports car.
These two themes highlight how lasting values, ideas, innovation and vision make up the Mercedes-Benz brand. The result? Cars that have been setting standards for almost 130 years – both in their time and far beyond.
Built in 1938, the Mercedes-Benz 540 K Streamliner is a unique vehicle with outstanding attributes. The most striking is the skilfully drawn streamliner body, which is perfectly aerodynamic. For decades, its drag coefficient (Cd value) of just 0.36 was the top value for a road vehicle.
In conjunction with a powerful supercharged engine, this enables the vehicle to reach a top speed of 185 km/h. It also set benchmarks in long-distance travel comfort. The Streamliner's current equivalent is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé. It transports the values of innovation, design, aerodynamics, drive system and travel comfort, all at the highest level, to the modern day and age.
All three sports cars shown at Rétromobile 2015 are the product of Mercedes-Benz's distinctive culture of innovation. Completed in 1953, the 300 SL racing prototype with its aluminium body, space frame and gullwing doors evolved from the successful racing car of 1952. The revolutionary vehicle concept from the early post-war period stands out for its lightweight construction, aerodynamic advantages, fuel efficiency and great reliability. Dating from 1969, the futuristic C 111 was used to test new powertrain systems and materials. It has a rotary engine based on the principle developed by Felix Wankel. A single specimen was built with a V8 reciprocating engine in order to explore the potential of this technology in the high-performance sports car. Painted in a striking orange shade known as 'weißherbst' (rosé wine), the body is made of lightweight glass-fibre-reinforced plastic. The C 111 caused quite a stir and subsequent versions set various world records. However, it never entered series production. Unlike the Mercedes-AMG GT unveiled in 2014: this dream car is already available. Delivering a first-rate performance on the racetrack, it is also suitable for everyday use and is highly efficient. Like its famous predecessors, the GT sets the highest aesthetic standards for sports cars.
At Rétromobile, more than 500 vehicles will be on show in Hall 1 of the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre across 46,000 square metres of space. Once again, the organisers are expecting approximately 100,000 visitors this year. Auctions of classic cars by leading international auction houses such as Artcurial are one of the highlights of the extensive programme.