Cars and Trains

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
Trip End Dec 14, 2015

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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Friday, August 23, 2013

Howdy folks,

Day Five needed to be a little different. We had already done most of the big things in our area, so it was time to cast the net a little wider. Simon and I caught the tram into Heidelberg and then jumped on the Regional Express train to Stuttgart. By 11:45am we were in the Hauptbahnhof and then we jumped on a local train to get out to the Mercedes Benz Museum. Having been to the Porsche Museum already, I was keen to go and see the Mercedes one as well.

After walking from the train station, we were greeted by a vast array of buildings and soccer fields all belonging to the most famous and oldest car brand in the world. The museum itself is quite new and looked great from the outside. There was even a hybrid electric car and boat on display plus an outdoor cinema. The entrance fee was only 8 Euros so we couldn't complain about that either.

We took the elevator up to the top floor where we began an epic journey through the history of the Mercedes brand history. I didn’t know much about the cars previously and I didn’t realise that it was actually two companies which merged together. The history of the company is pretty much the history of the motor car because it involved the three main people: Karl Benz, Wilhelm Maybach and Gottlieb Daimler. Benz produced his three wheeled prototype a few months before Maybach and Daimler in 1886 while the later attached their grandfather clock motor to a modified horse carriage. Two completely different prototypes built 100 kilometres apart with differing designs! Benz produced a few more prototypes before opening up a factory in Mannheim, but Maybach and Daimler had a few different motor ideas and were based near Stuttgart. Their ideas were to build engines which could be adapted to boats, airships and vehicles, while Benz was just interested in the motor car.

The name Mercedes only came to appear on Daimler cars in 1901. The cars were named after a car salesman named Emil Jellinek who had a daughter named Mercedes. It was Jellinek who got Maybach to design a new more powerful engine for the early car races in Nice. The two companies followed their own separate paths until 1924 when the management combined and finally merged in 1926 to form Daimler-Benz. The Mercedes logo is actually a combination of the Daimler three pointed star (air-land-water) and the Benz logo. 

Each level was for a certain time period and had the main exhibit as well as a special exhibit like trucks, service vehicles, special cars from famous owners and the S series cars. It was really well set out except that at the start it was a little confusing which way to go. The museum was actually so big that we spent almost 4 hours there! We found out a few interesting facts like the gullwing doors on the original 300SL were only put in because the car frame design didn’t have space for normal doors!  In 1973, Germany made a policy of car free Sundays because of the oil crisis. Princess Diana had to give back her Mercedes because the British media made such a big deal about her driving a foreign car!

At the end of the museum were all of the racing cars which I had been looking forward to see since the beginning! We handed our audio guides back and grabbed a quick bite to eat before heading back into town. With only an hour spare before the train came, we didn’t have much time to go through the town sightseeing, but I still got to see the Schloss, a church and the pedestrian mall. There were quite a few people out on the Schloss lawns enjoying the sunshine so I joined them until Simon came back from shopping. Then it was time to catch the train back to Heidelberg.

After 1.5 hours, we were back at the Heidelberg Hauptbahnhof where we caught up with Steffie and had a 1L beer mass in a sports bar. We stayed out late and had a good time before catching the tram back to Edingen. It was quite a big day!
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