The Mercedes Museum

Early autmobiles in the Mercedes Musuem of Stuttgart, in Baden-Württemburg
Early automobiles in the Mercedes Museum of Stuttgart.

See the world's oldest cars—and hundreds of later models—in this monument to Mercedes-Benz in Daimler's hometown of Stuttgart

The earliest Mercedes racing model in the Mercedes Museum of Stuttgart
The earliest Mercedes racing model in the Mercedes Museum of Stuttgart.

The Mercedes-Benz museum is a Guggenheim for gear-heads, 160 vehicles and countless placards dedicated to the history of the Daimler company—and the parallel world history of the late 19th and 20th centuries—spiraling down nine stories of a massive, curvaceous structure in a double-helix of exhibits.

In the very first room are displayed the two oldest cars in existence, side by side:

The three-wheeled Benz Patent-Motorwagen, created by Karl Benz in 1886 and the first motor vehicle to use an internal combustion engine.

The first truly modern automobile with a gas-powered, two-cylinder, four-speed engine, a 1889 four-wheeled model built by Gottleib Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach (who the following year would form the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft company and refine and extend their designs).

(The rival car companies—DMG here in Stuttgart and Mannheim's Benz & Cie—merged in 1926 to form Mercedes-Benz.)

The earliest Mercedes racing model in the Mercedes Museum of Stuttgart
A classic 1955 Mercedes 300SL. The distinctive "gullwing" doors were actually an engineering workaround for a structural problem; to support the frame, a horizontal bar had to run the length of the car through the midline, making traditional side-open doors impossible. This a classic look was born.

The museum's audio tour is well with using, with thematic tracks to listen to at each stop, some on the technology, some on the social context of various Mercedes milestones, plus a kids track which is often the best of the bunch, full of factoids and fun anecdotes.

There's also a nice section on Emil Jellinek, a gentleman salesman for Daimler from Vienna who also loved the Nice racing scene and was determined to have a Daimler car win.

In 1901, he swept to a number of victories with a new roadster model with an especially powerful motor he commissioned directly from Daimler and named after his daughter: Mercedes.

(Interestingly, Mercedes herself never learned to drive.)

The earliest Mercedes racing model in the Mercedes Museum of Stuttgart
Emil Jellinek with his daughter, Mercedes.

Other famed historic Mercedes on view range from a 1907 London double-decker bus to John Paul II's bulletproof "Popemobile" to the sweet little 1950s red-interior gray two-seater 190SL once owned by Princess Grace Kelly (and also, weirdly, by Zsa Zsa Gabor, Gina Lollobrigida, and the Aga Khan).

The lower levels have fun curved walls on which a century's worth of Formula 1 and other racing models—from 1930s speedsters to 21st-century solar-powered wedges—jostle for position as if frozen in some kind of über-race.

Tips & links


Mercedes-Benz Museum
Mercedesstrasse 100 (across the Neckar River from downtown)
Tel. +49-(0)711-173-0000
Open Tues-Sun 9am–6pm
S-Bahn: S1, S2, S3 to Bad Cannstatt, then Bus 56

How long should I spend in the Mercedes Museum?

Give it a good two hours; the audio tour makes it more interesting that it might otherwise be, and it takes a while to explore all the nooks and crannies.

Useful links & resources

Tours Under $995 G Adventures

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in July 2014.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.