Welcome back to my European automotive odyssey. We started by deciding that the car should be the conveyance of choice on your visit. Next we visited Maranello to see the house that Enzo built, continued on to Pagani and today we bring you something from Germany. While the Italians get a lot of the attention in this part of the world, one of the biggest surprises of all was in a place called Stuttgart.
Set your navigation system to Mercedesstraße 100, 70372 Stuttgart, Germany and you’ll come across something wonderful, something unexpected, something wondrous: the Mercedes-Benz Museum. I’ll say this upfront: I’ve always been relatively indifferent about Mercedes. Sure, they make stuff with “AMG” on it that’s just bonkers and has no real purpose but to break speed limits and kill tires — but the rest of the lineup has never quite interested me as much as BMW and Audi.
But the moment you step into the museum, you hearken back to the dawn of the automotive age, and you realize that Mercedes-Benz has been doing this for a very, very long time. If you hop in your DeLorean and head back to the year 1926, you’ll first find the name “Daimler-Benz.” Keep going and you’ll find out that the company can trace its roots back to a 1901 Mercedes “car” and Karl Benz’s 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen, which many consider to be the first gasoline-powered automobile. The history since then is substantial, and if you find yourself in their museum, you’ll find out all about it.
While the other Italian museums were “must-sees” well before my European excursion, MB’s little (huge, multi-story) thing wasn’t really on my radar. We weren’t staying in Stuttgart and didn’t really have plans to visit. That changed when we mapped out our route between Zurich and Frankfurt, and I figured … Hey, might as well stop! It turned out be a cool town and I would definitely give it a look if you’re in the area. But we’re here to talk about the museum, which was perhaps the best automotive museum I’ve ever been to.
The building, right outside the gate of the MB factory, is built around a cool cloverleaf shape using overlapping circles with the center removed to form a triangular atrium. You come into the ground level and you’re immediately shuttled into an elevator to head to the top floor. The layout is chronological, and you start at the top, during the dawn of the automobile, and work your way down. The fit and finish of the museum is incredible, and Mercedes-Benz goes out of their way to tie the time frame of the cars you’re viewing into what was happening in the world. The number of American pop-culture and major events that were featured was staggering — and pretty cool to see as a tourist during my first trip to Germany.
The first ever gas-powered car is on display, as are hundreds of prototypes, concepts and cars owned or operated by famous people — from the Pope and Princess Diana to the ML320 from The Lost World: Jurassic Park — all in a pristine space that’s easy to navigate. The building is shaped roughly like a Wankel engine, and you work your way down a series of ramps (which was helpful since we had a stroller with us) and you watch time progress decade by decade. Newer and newer cars make their way into view, with the visit culminating in a tribute to Mercedes-Benz motorsports (which is also amazing).
I’ll let the rest of the photos do the talking. If you find yourself in this part of Europe, by all means, pay the Mercedes-Benz Museum a visit!
And oh, by the way, they have one of the largest Mercedes dealerships in the world. Want to see just about every car in the lineup? You can proceed to the dealership and buy your own Mercedes-Benz if the mood strikes you. And yes, there is a whole floor dedicated to AMG. Find a Mercedes-Benz for sale