Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hidden treasures....

Warning: If you're not interested in cars -- especially classic cars -- you'll be bored to tears by this entry....

Earlier, I mentioned the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. Car enthusiasts know M-B has had a museum for years (since the mid-1920s, in fact) and some know the company is about to open a brand-new enlarged museum with a few days.

What most people don't know is that the 150 or so cars and trucks on public display represent only a fraction of the collection Mercedes-Benz has amassed. Many more are stashed away in three -- or four, depending on who you talk to -- nondescript warehouses.

Ten years ago, I was able to visit three of those warehouses. Last week, I returned and was able to see two. For anyone who is attracted to cars, these stashes are a treasure trove, beyond monetary value.

The company has spent years gathering in cars to add to those they have kept from the beginning. Among them are all but one of the dozens of racing cars built in the M-B factories in the 1930s and 1950s, classics dating back to the pre-Mercedes-Benz days when Daimler and Benz were separate companies, trucks and buses of all descriptions, interesting prototype cars and "everyday" M-Bs from every era.

Seeing them is an occasion of sensory overload. I ran my camera out of batteries shooting in these dark buildings, and present a few of my favorites here.

This is one of the first cars to bear the "Mercedes" name before it was joined up in a hyphenate with Benz. The original "Mercedes" was the daughter of one Emil Jellinek, daughter of the Austrian Benz dealer, who informed Benz he could sell a large number of cars if they were named after his female child....


One of the great "Silver Arrow" racing cars of the 1930s, the W125 Mercedes-Benz got more than 500 horsepower from its supercharged engine, but rode on tires narrower than those on a modern VW Golf and had brakes that were, by modern standards, pathetic. It took a special kind of driver to master one of these beasts....


This is a 500K, the legendary supercharged Mercedes-Benz sportscar of the late 1930s. It is fast, beautifully built and just plain gorgeous. It's my second-favorite of all Mercedes-Benz automobiles....


And this is where the 500K's driver and fortunate passenger spent their on-the-road time....


This may look like a 300SL "Gullwing," but it isn't. It's a 300SLR Coupe, one of two built, that mated the chassis, engine and lower body of the all-conquering 300SLR open racing car with the roof and doors of a standard 300SL. Though it has a full interior, it is far faster than any regular 300SL, and far louder. It was conceived by and became the personal daily transport of M-B racing team director Rudi Uhlenhaut. This is the one Mercedes I covet most....



Finally, from the 1970s, one of the C111 "research" cars built by Mercedes-Benz to test the Wankel rotary engine. Less than a dozen of these mid-engine coupes were built; the last few were fitted with high-performance diesel engines, even more streamlined bodies and set a number of world speed records....


These cars were only the tip of the iceberg. Cars of all eras, from the 1920s (and before) to just a few years ago, live in these warehouses. Touring cars, trucks, racers...some as common as 190E sedans, others unique oddities. All of them ready to start up and take for a drive....

Unbvelievable.

12 comments:

HarpO'Fly said...

I'd like that ride of Rudi's the 300slr. I'm not sure if it is a typo when you described the mating of the sl model with? you said slr but that is what it already is.
Anyway, very impressive. This is how cars ought to be.

MrScribbler said...

SLR was the racer, HarpO. The regular "production" car was the SL. Lots and lots of differences including the engine (eight cylinders in a line for the SLR, six for the SL). Think of Rudi's car as a "racer with a roof." The bodies do look similar, but much less so when you see them in person.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting used to coming over to visit..lol. Thanks for commenting in my Tropical Times:) And yes, I'm a fan of classic cars, being from the era of real classics, myself. These are great! :) (hugs) from Sunny Take care, Mr Scribbler.

MrScribbler said...

Glad you like 'em, Sunny! Wish I'd been able to take a pic of each and every one in those treasure houses....

J-sniffer said...

sweet cars

He-Man of the Net said...

You mean M-Bs aren't just over priced German taxicabs?

Nice shots.

MrScribbler said...

If any of these are taxicabs, illustrious-gentleman-of-the-net, then I'm up for a cab ride any time!

Overpriced, of course, is relative. I doubt even Billy Gates could buy any of the rides shown here....

Anonymous said...

Wow great pictures...reminds me of the time I happend to stumble across the Auburn/Cord museum in Indiana.....

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