An Auto-Otaku in Stuttgart 2021: Visiting the Mercedes-Benz museum Part 1

Spectacular, spectacular. That’s pretty much how I’d sum up the massive Mercedes-Benz museum. Spanning nine levels, 16,500 m² of floor space and over 1,500 exhibits documenting not only the history of the marque but of the automobile itself, the beautifully curated Mercedes-Benz museum is an automotive otaku’s dream come to life and worthy of an entry into any autophile’s bucket list.

Having just left the beautiful town of Esslingen, it made plenty of sense to combine these two locales into a single day’s worth of touristing as they both reside along the same train line. Though, do allocate about half a day’s worth of time should you choose to venture to the museum as it is huge and chock full of lovely machines.

I’d also advise you to arrive early to pick up an audio guide as it really provides quite a bit of insight and context as you walk through the numerous exhibits. As a bonus, at the end of your tour, you’d get to keep the attached Mercedes-Benz museum lanyard!

With my tickers purchased, it was time to head in.

The self-guided tour of the Mercedes-Benz museum first begins in a (very Loki TVA-Esque) bubble lift as commentary is piped in as you are brought up to the highest level to start your journey into the early days of the motor-car.

Given the scale of the museum, I won’t spoil the entire experience for you so here are some of the highlights from my visit as I shuffled through the historically rich walkways and hallways.

Total time spent in the MB museum given that I occasionally sped through some of the exhibits (giving them little more than a casual glance), almost 5 hours.

As you start to make your way down, you’d bear witness to the evolution of the motor car (and Mercedes-Benz the company) as they slowly evolve through the years.

Even details like improvements made to the design of the wheels are documented and presented.

These vintages sure had a lot of flair.

As time progresses onwards, we start to see the vintage autos iterate to eventually become the machines we all know and love.

But before that happens, we have to talk about the extremely beautiful machines brought about during the Art deco era. Namely the breathtakingly beautiful and elegantly exquisite SSKs.

Handcrafted pieces of mechanical art, the SSK was also the last car designed for Mercedes-Benz by one Ferdinand Porsche before he left to start his own little company.

Fewer than 40 SSKs were built during its production span, of which about half were sold as racing cars. Only four or five entirely original models remain, and their scarcity and rich heritage make them among the most sought after cars in the world. With 600Nm of torque and between 200-300 horsepowers depending on the state of tune of their supercharged 7-litre straight-6 engines, they were the fastest cars of their day with a maximum velocity of 190km/h. In 1928.

Incredibly quick, incredibly beautiful and incredibly expensive. Price of entry today? An estimated $15,000,000 – $20,000,000, if you can find one for sale of course.

Inside, for a car from the 1920s-1930s, it looks surprisingly modern with switchgear not too unfamiliar with us geeky drivers.

The gear shift pattern might take a little getting used to though I suspect if you owned one of these, that wouldn’t be a problem.

Beautiful as they might be, the same era of Mercedes-Benz automobiles also gave birth to cars that have a far more sinister vibe.

A sinister vibe that can only come from association with a sinister political party, historical facts the Mercedes-Benz museum did not shy away from.

With Daimler engines powering machines that traverse land, sea and air (hence the three-pointed star), it made sense that the vehicles on display weren’t limited to passenger cars as this sub-gallery of “carriers” shows.

I found this old bus particularly fascinating.

Oh all the stories it must have from a time when this was considered state of the art in commuter transport.

Some lovely art-deco vibes from this postal track. Same day delivery I think not.

Some carries do bring more joy than others as this vehicle transporter shows. Carrying with it a load of some of the most iconic modern-day series production Benzes ever to leave the factory. The everlasting W126 and W123.

I wouldn’t say no to any of these. Ladies and gents, this is what it means to be “fully restored”.

Perfectly rebuilt and preserved by the factory.

Period correct down to the rubber. Beautiful.

Not all car carriers are created equal of course as this high-speed racing car transporter shows. A one-off built by the Mercedes-Benz testing department, also called the “Blue Wonder”, it was used to chauffeur racing cars in 1955 – at speeds of up to 170km/h. On its back, an extremely special vehicle. The 300SLR.

Currently valued at a whopping $42 million, it’s one of only three ever built by Mercedes-Benz.

Never beaten. Will probably never be on sale. Pure magic.

Something a slight bit more “attainable” is this beautiful W109 S-Class. In its most potent form.

6.3 litres of 1960s German power and while it might not look like it, it was the fastest four-door car during its time. Visually, it strikes a huge contrast to the super-sedans of today, with little visual cues giving it away from its “lesser” siblings. Keep it classy.

Sitting right next to the pukka W109 is a lovely S123, the estate variant of the venerable W123. This particular TE wasn’t restored and had its history documented before purchasing by the museum. It still looked tidy though.

To finish off this post, here’s a quick look at what’s in store in part 2 as I steadily made my descent back into the main gallery space. I hope you enjoyed part 1.

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