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mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

Where the car was born

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This is the website of travel writer, Michael Turtle. After working in broadcast journalism for a decade in Australia, Michael left Sydney to travel the world indefinitely and write about his discoveries.

Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Germany

It was here, in the Germany city of Stuttgart, that the first modern automobile was created. It’s almost unrecognisable by today’s standards but the patent that Karl Benz submitted in 1886 for a vehicle with a gas engine and three wheels is generally considered to be the “birth certificate” of today’s cars.

How that legacy that he created more than a century ago has grown. Not only does the world respect the Mercedes-Benz like almost no other car brand – but here in the Baden-Wurttemberg region of Germany, its parent company, Daimler, is industrial royalty.

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

“What are you doing here in Stuttgart,” a guy asks me and some other bloggers at a bar on the first night in town. We tell him that we’re here for work.

“Oh, don’t tell me,” he says. “You work for Daimler, right?”

We don’t. Obviously. But it shows you the reputation the motoring giant has in Stuttgart when that’s the first and the obvious assumption people make. In this region, about 150,000 people are employed by Daimler – the majority working directly on the Mercedes-Benz brand.

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

Not everything happens behind the scenes, though. The company has weaved its way into the community fabric of Stuttgart. Apart from the fact that a lot of people seem to drive a Mercedes-Benz, the main sporting arena is called the Mercedes-Benz Arena… and then there’s the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

The museum tells the history of 125 years of the car company. The building itself, though, represents more of the future than the past. It’s a modern structure with a design based on a double-helix. When you arrive, you are whisked up in a glass elevator to the seventh floor where you begin the spiral journey downwards past more than 150 vehicles.

“Welcome to the museum,” the voice comes through my headphones. “Our audio guide will accompany you on your tour. Once you’ve started the sound recording, as you did just now, you can walk wherever you like…”

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

There’s more information than you can reasonably take in during one visit. The audio guide has a general introduction to each section and then each display has even more facts and figures you can listen to if something takes your particular interest. I feel like I’m missing out if I race through too quickly but I’m also worried I will never get out if I try to listen to everything. I stop at just one or two vehicles in each section.

“This 40 horsepower Mercedes Simplex belonged to the American billionaire William K Vanderbilt,” the voice in my ear tells me. “Delivered in March 1902, it is today the world’s oldest surviving Mercedes…”

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

If this was all you ever knew about cars, you would be forgiven for thinking that Mercedes-Benz ruled the roads. I suppose it’s natural that a company wants to promote its own image but there is little (if any) context of how the brand fits into the broader automotive industry. In a city that is so reliant and intertwined with one particular manufacturer, perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise.

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

Vroom. The sound of a car racing moves from left to right across the large hall displaying more than a dozen racing models.

The exhibition is as modern as the building containing it. Lightshows, sound effects, impressive display designs. The museum is clearly trying to capture the style and sophistication of the cars that bear its name. It makes for an experience beyond the purely informative and often I find myself admiring the way things have been laid out more than the actual cars.

mercedes-benz museum, stuttgart, germany, car museum

Still, if you accept that the “birth certificate” of the modern car was created here, this is a fitting tribute to its life. One that clearly has many years and miles still to run.

* You can click here to find out more about the Mercedes-Benz Museum

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of Baden-Wurttemberg and DB Bahn but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

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14 Comments
  • Colleen Brynn | Oct 30, 2013 at 5:51 am

    I’m not a car buff by any means, but I can appreciate the sleekness and beauty of the cars and this building. What an impressive structure. Sounds like it was a great visit.
    Colleen Brynn recently posted..Oh, Mr. Sandman…My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      That’s exactly it – you don’t need to care too much about cars to appreciate this place. If you like design and cool visuals, then that along makes the trip worthwhile!

  • Devlin @ Marginal Boundaries | Oct 30, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Mercedes-Benz has always produced some fantastically superb vehicles, design & performance wise. I’d love to check this museum out some day. I’ve always had a bit of a car buff in me.
    Devlin @ Marginal Boundaries recently posted..Comment on Changing Your Operating System by T.W. AndersonMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 10, 2013 at 9:59 pm

      The only problem with going to the museum is that you then want to go out and buy a Merc! Thank goodness that wasn’t really an option for me :)

  • TammyOnTheMove | Oct 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I have been to the BMW museum in Munich once and it was fascinating too. I always like the old cars best.
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..Climbing Cotopaxi – And why you shouldn’t mess with your wife when she has altitude sicknessMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 10, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      I’ll have to check out the BMW museum sometime. I guess if any country is going to have heaps of car museums, it’s going to be Germany!

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel | Nov 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    They have made some beautifully designed cars – and separate entirely from that, the building itself is gorgeous and I love the way you are directed slowly through from the 7th floor moving ever downward.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..CHILE: Trekking the Atacama Desert, the Driest Place On EarthMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 10, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      The whole experience is so enjoyable – I absolutely love the design of the museum. I was a bit overwhelmed by all the exhibits and information but it would be heaven for a car nut. You could spend hours listening to the audioguide about all the different makes and models.

  • Jennifer | Nov 1, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    This is still one of the car museums we still need to visit! We’ve been putting together a car lover’s guide to Germany will all the auto related things you can do throughout the country!

    http://jdombstravels.com/car-lovers-guide-to-germany/
    Jennifer recently posted..Wine Wednesday: The Prosecco RoadMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 10, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      If you’re putting together a car lover’s guide – you definitely need to include this! I imagine there’s a lot to do in Germany for a car enthusiast but this place has got to be one of the highlights. The museum is just so well done!

  • Chirsty Wilson | Nov 12, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    German engineering is world class engineering. Everyone loves German cars. M-Benz is popular car and everyone attracts towards its beauty, comfort and power.
    Glad to see post on German Engineering.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 29, 2013 at 1:47 am

      Thanks, Chirsty. German engineering is legendary around the world and when you go somewhere like the M-Benz museum, you can see why!

  • Charles Oliver | Oct 1, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Great!
    Charles Oliver recently posted..Tips to Effectively Install Vinyl WrapsMy Profile

  • Richard Fraizer | Dec 8, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    I think there’s a lot of action going on in Miami. Speedhut

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