Classic Car Catalogue
Mercedes Benz 1974
(W 115) 200D, 220D, 240D, 240D 3.0, 200, 230.4
(W 114) 230.6, 250, 280, 280E
(W 114) 250C, 280C, 280CE
(W 116) 280S, 280SE, 350SE, 450SE, 280SEL, 350SEL, 450SEL
(R 107) 350SL, 450SL, 280SL
(C 107) 350SLC, 450SLC, 280SLC
(W 100) 600
- 11 March: Daimler-Benz Board of Management member Prof. Hans Scherenberg accepts the "1974 Car of the Year" award on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show. An international jury made up of 45 trade journalists had in January awarded the coveted prize to the car models 450 SE and 450 SEL ( 116 series), as well as the 450 SL and 450 SLC (107 series).
- June 4:
Daimler-Benz presents the latest version of the experimental
safety vehicle, the ESF 24, at the 5th International ESV
conference taking place in London. This marks the completion of
the ESV program after three years of intensive development work.
- July: Mercedes-Benz presents three new passenger car models to the international press in Frankfurt am Main and Hockenheim. The 80 hp, five-cylinder 3-litre OM 617 engine of the 240 D 3.0 (115 series) makes this not only the world's most powerful diesel-engined passenger car, but also the world's first five-cylinder series-produced model. The new 280 SL and 280 SLC (107 series) entry-level sports car variants are presented at the same time.
- 4 - 8 November: Daimler-Benz AG presents an overview of its activities in the area of environmental protection at the second NATO/CCMS symposium on the development of low-pollutant drive systems in Dusseldorf. A Mercedes-Benz 450 SL with methanol drive is on display for the first time.
200D, 220D, 240D, 240D 3.0
230.6, 250, 280, 280E
250C, 280C, 280CE
200 (R4 cyl, 1988 ccm, 95 PS)
230.4 (R4 cyl, 2277 ccm, 110 PS)
200D (R4 cyl, diesel, 1988 ccm, 55 PS)
220D (R4 cyl, diesel, 2197 ccm, 60 PS)
240D (R4 cyl, diesel, 2404 ccm, 65 PS)
240D 3.0 (R5 cyl, diesel, 2971 ccm, 80 PS) - new model
Limousine (wb: 2750 mm)
240D lang (R4 cyl, diesel, 2404 ccm, 65 PS)
Limousine (wb: 3400 mm)
230.6 (R6 cyl, 2292 ccm, 120 PS)
250 (R6 cyl, 2778 ccm, 130 PS)
280 (R6 cyl, 2746 ccm, 160 PS)
280E (R6 cyl, inj., 2746 ccm, 185 PS)
Limousine (wb: 2750 mm)
230 lang (R6 cyl, 2292 ccm, 120 PS)
Limousine (wb: 3400 mm)
250C (R6 cyl, 2778 ccm, 130 PS)
280C (R6 cyl, 2746 ccm, 160 PS)
280CE (R6 cyl, inj., 2746 ccm, 185 PS)
Coupé (wb: 2750 mm)
280S, 280SE, 280SEL
280S (R6 cyl, 2746 ccm, 160 PS)
280SE (R6 cyl, inj., 2746 ccm, 185 PS)
350SE (V8 cyl, inj., 3499 ccm, 200 PS)
450SE (V8 cyl, inj., 4520 ccm, 225 PS)
Limousine (wb: 2865 mm)
280SEL (R6 cyl, inj., 2746 ccm, 185 PS) - new model
350SEL (V8 cyl, inj., 3499 ccm, 200 PS)
450SEL (V8 cyl, inj., 4520 ccm, 225 PS)
Limousine (wb: 2965 mm)
280SL, 350SL, 450SL
280SLC, 350SLC, 450SLC
350SL (V8 cyl, inj., 3499 ccm, 200 PS)
450SL (V8 cyl, inj., 4520 ccm, 225 PS)
280SL (R6 cyl, inj., 2746 ccm, 185 PS) - new model
Roadster (wb: 2460 mm)
350SLC (V8 cyl, inj., 3499 ccm, 200 PS)
450SLC (V8 cyl, inj., 4520 ccm, 225 PS)
280SLC (R6 cyl, inj., 2746 ccm, 185 PS) - new model
Coupé (wb: 2820 mm)
600 (V8 cyl, inj., 6330 ccm, 250 PS)
Limousine (wb: 3200 mm)
Pullman 4-dr (wb: 3900 mm)
Pullman 6-dr (wb: 3900 mm)
Pullman Landaulet(wb: 3900 mm)
All works of taste must bear a price according to the skill, taste, time, expense and risk attending their invention and manufacture.
Those things called dear are, when justly estimated, the cheapest; they are attended with much less profit to the artist than those which everybody calls cheap.
Beautiful forms and compositions are not made by chance, nor can they ever, in any material, be made at small expense.
A composition for cheapness, and not for excellence of workmanship, is the most frequent and certain cause of the rapid decay and entire destruction of arts and manufactures. — Ruskin.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Genesis, insofar as the practical automobile is concerned, started with Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz. That was in 1886, when these two men each successfully harnessed the power of a lightweight internal combustion engine to a vehicle that would travel on land.
Daimler and Benz worked just 60 miles apart, Daimler in the Stuttgart suburb of Bad Cannstatt, and Benz in Mannheim. Yet they never met, and their companies were not merged until the mid-1920's, a quarter-century after Daimler's death and long after Benz ceased to take an active role in his company.
The stage for their accomplishments was set by others: the wheel was invented back in antiquity, steel was being manufactured in the middle of the 19th century, and crude oil in commercial quantities was discovered in 1857. A rail-road spanned North America by 1869, and Nikolaus Otto, another German, invented the four-stroke internal combustion engine in 1873. The idea was obvious.
But Daimler and Benz were the ones who made the concept of individual transport work.
They built the first motorcycle, the first bus, the first truck and the first diesel-powered truck; they built the first internal-combustion powered boat, and Daimler's engines were in the first successful aircraft that was controlled by anything other than the winds.
Though unaware of it, they also laid the foundations for the Daimler-Benz AG, both in terms of the various directions they pursued and in the name they established for quality and performance. What they did 90 years ago reflects itself in the Daimler-Benz of today, a company which manufactures and sells transportation in practically every corner of the world.
Even at the beginning, the reputations of Daimler and Benz spread quickly. As the 19th century was drawing to a close, many nations were in the middle of a shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy, the need for their ideas was urgent, and their inventions were sought by companies in other lands. Daimler, the more visionary of the two, was especially active in this field. Two of his French licensees, Panhard et Levassor and Peugeot, formed the basis for the French auto industry.
Daimler's first license for North America was issued in 1888, eight years before Henry Ford built his Quadricycle. William Steinway, the American piano manufacturer, was in Germany and heard about Daimler's engines. He paid a visit, was treated to a ride, and liked what he saw. Daimler liked the idea of having an American licensee, and on October 6, they signed an agreement.
Back home, Steinway concentrated on selling engines for streetcars and boats.
Steinway died in 1896, and the automotive part of his firm was reorganized as the Daimler Manufacturing Company, which started production of delivery vans in 1901. By 1905 they were making luxury cars and did so for three years before deciding to concentrate on pianos.
The only remaining "American" Mercedes, symbol of what might have been, now occupies a place of honor in the headquarters of Mercedes-Benz of North America, Daimler-Benz's largest single subsidiary, in Montvale, N.J. It is a footnote on the pages of automotive history, and it carries the name Mercedes, as do practically all other four-wheeled products which come from the Daimler-Benz AG.
Who was Mercedes? She was a 12year-old girl, Mercedes Jellinek by name, the daughter of Emil Jellinek, the Austro-Hungarian consul in Nice, France, at the turn of the century.
The biggest automotive event of the year on the Cote d'Azur was Nice Speed Week. Jellinek, as the local enthusiast, entered a 23-hp Daimler racing car in the 1899 competition, and the car took first place. After an accident involving the Daimler entry in 1900, Jellinek went to Cannstatt and suggested several major changes for the 1901 model. The new car was lower, longer and lighter than anything they had done before, with a different radiator and a new engine. It was the forerunner of the modern automobile. Jellinek prevailed upon the Daimlers to name it after his daughter, the car went to Nice and won practically everything—and Daimler cars have been named Mercedes ever since.
There was no three-pointed star on that first Mercedes, nor on the American Mercedes, for the simple reason that the star didn't become the official trademark until 1909. Tradition has it that Gottlieb Daimler sketched the star in the 1870's both as a lucky star over his vehicles, and to symbolize powered vehicles on land, sea, and in the air. But that is tradition; the trademark says 1909. Later, of course, it was combined with the Benz circle.
Despite the fact that Daimler and Benz (and later on Daimler-Benz) made a variety of products, the cars were always the great standard bearers as far as the public was concerned. If it wasn't the first Mercedes, or the grand prix winners of 1908 or 1914, then it was the great "S" series of the late 1920's or the 500K and 540K speedsters of the 1930's, or the all-conquering racing cars of both the 1930's and the mid-1950's. And there was also the 300SL gullwing coupes, and the imposing 600 limousines in the '50's and '60's. Today the flag carrier is the 450 series, which ranges from a two-seater sports car to a long-wheelbase limousine.
But that took place yesterday, or the day before. How it all started was something completely different: two practical engineers, a lucky star, and a 12-year-old girl in the south of France.
It was as simple as that.
The people who started it, and some memorabilia: 1) Karl Benz. 2) Gottlieb Daimler. 3) Emil Jellinek, the Austrian businessman who encouraged the Daimlers. 4) Jellinek's daughter Mercedes, after whom they named the car. 5) through 13) Trademarks, logos and radiator ornaments used by Daimler, by Benz, and then by Daimler-Benz. 14) Daimler's first powered vehicle, 1885. 15) Benz's first car, 1886. 16) Daimler's first car, 1886. 17) Karl Benz at the wheel of an early Benz, with wife, daughter, and a friend.
18) The first Mercedes, 1901. 19) The American Mercedes, built by Steinway in 1906. 20) The 1910 Mercedes phaeton. 21) The 1911 Mercedes 22/50 limousine. 22) The 1921 Mercedes-Knight. 23) The 1921 Benz 6/18 sports car. 24) The 1927 Mercedes-Benz S sports car, of the famous S, SS, SSK and SSKL series. 25) The 1928 Mercedes-Benz SSK 26) Another version of the SSK this one with cabriolet top. 27) The lightest and the fastest of the series, the SSKL. 28) On a more formal note, the 1928 Nurburg limousine.
29) Rear-engined Mercedes-Benz 170H of 1935. 30) The 260D, world's first diesel sedan, 1935. 31) The 540K roadster of the late 30's. 32) The 170, first postwar model. 33) The 220A Cabriolet, 1951. 34) The 180D, built in 1953. 35) The 300SL gullwing, 1954-57. 36) The 190SL, built from 1954-62. 37) The 1952 300S Cabriolet. 38) The 220SE coupe, 1962. 39) The 300 limousine of the late 1950's and early 1960's. 40) The 220SE convertible, 1962. 41) The 600 Mercedes, 1963. 42) The 230SL of 1963, built later in 250SL and 280SL versions.
MERCEDES-BENZ GOES RACING
The Mercedes-Benz teams were the most successful factory-sponsored racing efforts the sport has ever seen, and this tradition at the home of the three-pointed star, even though two decades have passed since the last racing car was built, is as prized as it ever was.
The obvious question that comes to mind is, of course: If you were so successful, then why don't you race any more? The answer is also obvious: In those times when racing performance helped to improve the breed of the passenger car, we raced-and won.
But times change. As new and more sophisticated testing equipment became available, and as the world's increasing vehicle population put the emphasis on comfort and safety rather than speed, Mercedes-Benz was already long-gone from the racing circuits, and was maintaining its name in other ways. Being in step with the times is important.
Being ahead of the times is even more important. Europe is the birthplace of the automobile, but the first race was held in the United States, in 1892, from Chicago to Waukegan, Ill., and back again. The winner was a Benz. So much for being around at the start.
In 1906, the Automobile Club de France inaugurated its grand prix. No, not the French Grand Prix, but the Grand Prix. By the 1908 event a Mercedes led all the rest with the giant Christian Lautenschlager behind the wheel. Other cars were making their mark in America at this time: In 1911 it was Benz's turn, with first Barney Old field and then Bob Burman taking the giant Blitzen Benz and setting speed records at Daytona. Burman topped 141 m.p.h. in 1911, twice as fast as any plane had flown at that time.
Back in Europe it was Mercedes again, in what many still term one of the landmark races of all time—the 1914 Grand Prix, held near Lyon just a month before the outbreak of World War I. Mercedes finished 1-2-3, with Lautenschlager showing the way. (One of these cars made its way to England; when the war started, the Mercedes power plant became the basis for Rolls-Royce aircraft engines. Another car was sent to the U.S. for Ralph de Palma, and he won the 1915 Indianapolis 500 with it.) These cars were so durable that Italian Count Giulio Masetti won the Targa Florio in one of them in 1922.
Germany was in the midst of difficult economic times in the 1920's, the Daimler and Benz factories were in the midst of their merger, and the Eifel section of the country was in the midst of constructing the greatest artificial road circuit the world has ever seen—the Nuerburgring. When it was finished in 1927 it twisted for 17 miles per lap, and when they held the inaugural race, a new type of Mercedes-Benz with a new driver finished first. The car was the giant model S open tourer, the first in the line of S, SS, SSK and SSKL models that were to keep the racing reputation alive in the late 20's and early 30's. The driver was Rudolf Caracciola.
Caracciola made his reputation with the S series, and made himself world famous with his winning drives in the German Grand Prix (1928, 1931), the Tourist Trophy (1929), and the Mille Miglia (1931).
But the S series was only a prelude to the most concentrated racing effort the world had yet seen: the campaign Daimler-Benz put on from 1934 to 1939. Racing technology, and racing organization, reached new heights during this era, with the supercharged cars from Stuttgart setting records almost everywhere they went.
For Mercedes-Benz the drivers were Caracciola, Hermann Lang, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Dick Seaman, with Rudolf Uhlenhaut and Alfred Neubauer being the two most visible members of the Mercedes staff. Uhlenhaut, the engineer, made the cars behave, and Neubauer, the race director, controlled the tactical organization.
How good were they? In 1939 they built, tested and entered two cars designed specifically for a race they heard about only nine months before it was to take place. The Stuttgart entries finished 1-2. That's how good.
After the war it was seven years before another Mercedes-Benz showed itself in a major event and this time it was the gullwing-doored 300SL. In 1952 the car was second in the Mille Miglia, and won at Le Mans and in the Mexican Road Race. It was obvious that a full-scale return was not far away, and that came in 1954. It was in July to be exact, almost 40 years to the day the 1914 French Grand Prix saw a 1-2-3 Mercedes finish. This time it was the French Grand Prix again, and the finish was 1-2, with Argentine hero Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling doing the driving. Fangio wound up the season as world champion, and Mercedes-Benz was on top once more.
Fangio repeated his championship in 1955 and a newcomer to the Mercedes-Benz team, England's Stirling Moss, finished second. Between the two of them they won five of the six world championship races they entered, and finished second in three. If possible, there was something even more convincing in 1955: the 300SLR racing sports car, which won the manufacturers' title.
The 300SLR's started four championship races and two minor events, placed 1-2 in five of these and were withdrawn from Le Mans after the accident of that year. Moss won the three championship events with one partner or another, and none of the cars ever dropped out of a race with a mechanical defect. There is no other car in the history of racing able to make that claim.
1) Mercedes race car of 1906. 2) The record-setting Blitzen Benz. 3) The 1914 French Grand Prix-winning Mercedes. 4) The 2.0-liter Mercedes of 1923. 5) The eight-cylinder 1924 Mercedes G.P. car. 6) The first of the famous 1930's racing vehicles—the W25 of 1934. 7) The 646-horsepower W125 of 1937. 8) The W165 of 1939, winner of the Tripoli Grand Prix. 9) Special-bodied 1939 record car. 10) The W154 in its 1939 trim. 11) The 300SL coupe that won the 1952 Mexican Road Race Classic.
12) The 300SLR of 1955, as a two-seater. 13) The W196 grand prix car of 1954. 14) The W196 in its more conventional, open-wheeled form. 15) William K. Vanderbilt, dr. at Ormond Beach, Fla., in 1905, with the 90-horse Mercedes in which he set the land speed record. 16) Christian Lautenschlager. 17)Christian Werner. 18) Barney Oldfield in the Blitzen Benz in 1910. 19) Winner Lautenschlager at speed, 1914 French G.P. 20) Max Sailer, class winner at the 1921 Targa Florio.
21) Manfred von Brauchitsch, 1936. 22) Rudi Caracciola, 1938. 23) The G.P. of Germany, 1937. From left: Von Brauchitsch, Alfred Neubauer, Dick Seaman, Hermann Lang, Caracciola. 24) Neubauer with his watches. 25) Mexican road race winner Karl Kling, 1952. 26) Stirling Moss. 1955. 27) The 1955 Mille Miglia winner, from left: Ludwig Kraus, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, Denis Jenkinson, Moss, Dr. Hans Scherenberg. 28) British G.P., 1955, from left: Uhlenhaut, Juan Manuel Fangio, Piero Taruffi, Moss, Kling, Neubauer. 29) Fangio, 1954.
Way back when it all started, if you wanted to speak with someone from Daimler, or from Benz, it was usually necessary to make a trip to Stuttgart, or to Mannheim. Today you are as likely to find a Daimler-Benz man—who is from Stuttgart or Mannheim—in Houston, or San Francisco, in the Outback of Australia or on the plains of Kenya.
Daimler-Benz has come a long way from those small beginnings in two south German towns. Today it is one of the world's leading industrial undertakings, with a gross annual sales volume well over $5 billion, with more than 150,000 employees, with an annual production of more than 500,000 vehicles of all types, shapes and sizes. Daimler-Benz now does business in practically every country on the face of the earth. The three-pointed star can be found wherever wheeled vehicles have a road on which to run—and in many places where there are no roads at all.
In order to best understand just how Daimler-Benz functions, let's start with its basic structure. It is a publicly held corporation which does approximately half its business within the Federal Republic of Germany and half in the rest of the world.
Most of the Daimler-Benz production facilities are in Germany, where headquarters are in Untertuerkheim, just across the Neckar River from Stuttgart itself. Here, also, are the plants that produce passenger car engines, axles and transmissions. On the other side of Stuttgart is the passenger car assembly plant at Sindelfingen, as well as the body design and styling departments, and the delivery department. Not only do tourists from all over the world come directly to the factory to pick up their new cars, but great numbers of Germans do the same thing. They are as much interested in seeing how their car was built as in picking up the car itself!
Mannheim, Karl Benz's old home, is now the scene of truck engine production and bus production. Farther up the Rhine River, right across from Karlsruhe, is the principle truck assembly plant at Woerth. Nearby, on the edge of the Black Forest, is the Unimog plant at Gaggenau.
To the north, there are plants in Berlin, Bad Homburg, Duesseldorf, Hamburg-Harburg, Bremen and Kassel. These are concerned with the manufacture of passenger car and commercial vehicle parts, while the Duesseldorf works also assembles light vans and smaller buses. Heading back to the south, Mercedes-Benz industrial and marine diesel engines are built in Friedrichshafen, on the shores of Lake Constance, and gas turbines are manufactured in Munich.
There are an additional seven manufacturing plants in such diverse places as South Africa, Iran, Spain, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Brazil and Argentina. The Brazilian operation, where both trucks and buses are manufactured, is particularly impressive, and Mercedes-Benz do Brasil has achieved a dominant position in its "home" market. Our sister to the south is also of direct importance to MercedesBenz of North America, as trucks built there are now being imported into the United States.
In addition to the manufacturing plants in foreign countries, Daimler-Benz also has wholly-owned sales subsidiaries in the U.S., Canada, Australia, France and Britain. In other countries, Daimler-Benz operates through general distributors. Another example of the worldwide cooperation between foreign divisions of Daimler-Benz is the industrial engine business in the United States. All the small-displacement diesel powerplants sold by Mercedes-Benz of North America to mobile refrigeration equipment manufacturers are made by MEVOSA, the Daimler-Benz subsidiary in Spain.
And manufacturing plants are not the only outposts of the Daimler-Benz group. There is a total of 30 assembly plants scattered around the globe, which receive vehicles in what is known as CKD, or "completely knocked down," in industry parlance, and which put these together on the spot. Some are in such exotic locations as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Djakarta, Guayaquil, Lagos, Kinshasa, and Karachi—not to mention others in Montevideo, Tananarive, Nairobi and Singapore!
To simplify the task of assembling, selling and servicing vehicles all over the world, as well as administering such a far-flung organization, Daimler-Benz has split the globe into eight export regions. All of North America is Export Region 4, for example, while South America is Export Region 5.
Still, as a truly international company, Daimler-Benz must operate in international terms. Service manuals, for instance, are printed in 14 languages.
More challenging, however, are the widely differing regulations that must be complied with for sales in various countries, and even, as in the case of the United States, in different states. The differences go beyond calibrating speedometers in either miles per hour or kilometers. They can be as minor as headlight color or as major as completely unique engines, special bumper systems and sophisticated seat belt designs. But, even before so many diverse parts can go into the proper vehicles (no small production planning feat in itself since there are 28 different Mercedes-Benz passenger car models in all) they must be completely tested and certified as meeting the applicable regulations.
This testing is a precise, time-consuming business, but it is only a part of the many test programs carried by DaimlerBenz. These include participation in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Experimental Safety Vehicle program, which entailed the design, construction and testing of over 20 advanced vehicles.
A great deal of care, tradition, handwork and the most modern machines are combined in the Daimler-Benz assembly plant at Sindelfingen. 1) A total of 44 pounds of paint is applied to each car body, with appropriate drying measures between each coat. 2) The drive shaft is now in place. 3) Veteran workers do some of the welding, but 4) automatic machines are used where they are an improvement over man. 5) Disc brakes glowing red hot on the test stand. 6) Human experience is still the backbone of the assembly operation.
7) Daimler-Benz always has a large group of apprentices, many of them from foreign countries, learning their skills at the home of the three-pointed star. 8) Filing a piece of metal into shape, the traditional task of the apprentice. 9) Women are also beginning to occupy a place of importance, including this group at the drawing boards. 10) Engines receiving one of many checks before heading for homes inside bus bodies. 11) Although some transmissions may function automatically, it takes skilled hands to assemble their valve bodies.
12) The museum at Untertuerkheim, where visitors can see everything from the first engines to the latest production models. 13) Another of Daimler-Benz's outstanding foreign subsidiaries is Mercedes-Benz do Brasil, which not only sells trucks and buses, but produces them as well. Here's one of their big buses. 14) A Brazil-built L 1113 truck of the type now being imported into the United States by Mercedes-Benz of North America. 15) The Mercedes-Benz do Brasil factory at Sao Bernardo do Campo.
RESEARCH, DESIGN, & SAFETY
While auto racing may have first sprung from the sheer exhuberance of being able to move along at better than 12 m.p.h., early manufacturers were quick to see a practical advantage in winning. At a time when cars were, at best, rudimentary, what better way was there to demonstrate the reliability and durability of their products?
For the customer, the dividend, of course, was the technical carryover from racing cars to production cars.
This was probably most true in the early years, when cars were more of a curiosity than practical transportation. The benefits of reliable engines, better brakes and, even improved materials, were obvious. But, as racing cars grew ever more sophisticated, their divergence from normal automobiles increased.
Mercedes-Benz long ago realized this, even before their withdrawal from racing. Even, in fact, as they were enjoying their greatest successes.
Today, of course, Mercedes-Benz is no longer involved in racing, but the concentration of engineering effort that was at the heart of so many victories is even greater than before. The challenge today is not the Mille Miglia or the Grand Prix of France, but the imperatives of 20th Century society: reduction of air pollution, safety and conservation of natural resources. There is one other challenge that Mercedes-Benz engineers must meet, as well: The high standards of Daimler-Benz.
The development of a new Mercedes-Benz model, as a result, is not a hurried process. Traditionally, once introduced, a new model will stay in production for seven or eight years, some even longer. During this time, there are few changes to the basic body. Yet, as soon as something new has been developed that will enhance performance or safety, it is incorporated.
The explanation for the long gestation period for a new Mercedes-Benz is, in a word, testing. After the design has been finalized and the prototype models built (time-consuming operations in themselves), there follows a period of intensive evaluation. No facet is overlooked, from ease of entry and seating position to fuel tank integrity in a rear-end collision.
Daimler-Benz carries out its testing in many ways and in many locations. First, there are the facilities at the factory test tracks at Stuttgart and Sindelfingen. Here cars are tested dynamically... in motion. Giant fans produce side winds that test directional stability and giant bumps take the measure of the suspension. A climate center, where everything from arctic ice storms to tropical monsoons can be simulated, provides a check on starting, heating, defrosting and cooling systems, as well as showing how well door and window seals, windshield wipers, rain moldings, radio antennas and even gas tank filler doors function under extremes of heat and cold and wet and dry. Wind tunnels probe aerodynamic nuances.
Elsewhere, a giant pulsator puts the steel body structure through millions of stress cycles, checking its torsional and bending resistance. Mechanical arms open and close the doors and raise and lower the hood and trunk lid interminably. The tests continue until 14 years of normal use are simulated.
The prototype vehicles, which are only built after a design proves itself in the laboratory, travel considerably further afield, often going camouflaged into everyday traffic. Thus, it is not uncommon that an unusual-looking car will be seen in southern Germany near Stuttgart. Eventually, similar cars may be seen elsewhere—north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden, in the choking dust of South Africa, taking the pounding of jungle roads in Brazil, or in the wilds of Canada.
These tests go on for thousands of miles, many months before the car has been released for production. Other tests, not of stamina, but of an elusive quality known as safety, must also prove successful.
Perhaps the guiding principles for the people who design Mercedes-Benz are best summed up as simply good engineering. And, for them, automotive safety is an inseparable part of that engineering. It is both a challenge and a commitment, a self-established obligation that predates legislated safety standards by at least a quarter-century. It permeates and transcends every facet of every vehicle.
The curve and sweep of a MercedesBenz fender is based far more on esoteric studies of "crush characteristics" and "vehicle aggressivity" than what "looks good." Even the shape of a taillight lens, the placement of a spare tire, the shape and location of a gauge or switch, the curvature of a piece of window trim, must be methodically analyzed and tested. They all contribute to a total that can never be more than the sum of the parts.
Mercedes-Benz safety philosophy puts equal emphasis on avoiding the accident and on occupant protection in an accident. The former comes from such things as responsive steering, four-wheel disc brakes and maximum visibility, the latter through rigid passenger compartment structure, burst-proof door locks and properly placed interior padding, for example. No point is overlooked, for, as the head of passenger car safety at Daimler-Benz once said. "Safety is really a matter of detail."
Of course, there can be no such thing as absolute safety in any vehicle. Automotive safety is a relative thing: you are either more safe or less safe. At Mercedes-Benz, the commitment is to make every car, truck and bus as good as it can be. And that means ever more safe.
Today, the Daimler-Benz pieces de resistance are its experimental cars, such as the rotary-engined C-111. 1) The C-111, seen here in three-quarter view, is capable of 186 m.p.h. 2) Although most mid-engined two-seaters have limited luggage room, the C-111 has a spacious compartment beneath the rear decklid. 3) The C-111 inherited its doors from the famous 300SL coupes. 4) The ESF 22, one of a line of Mercedes-Benz experimental vehicles built in the search for a safer car. 5) The ESF 13, an earlier experimental model.
6) The skid pad and part of the test track at Untertuerkheim, located in the heart of the technical center. 7) Running on the high-banked section of the test track, with performance data being transmitted via cable to the observer vehicle. 8) Even heavy trucks are run on the bank, where G-forces are far more severe. 9) A grade of 60 per cent is something rarely encountered on public roads, but trucks have to conquer this obstacle during their testing period—just in case. 10) Coming out of the high bank.
11) The cold-test cell, where temperatures drop far below zero. 12) Wind-tunnel testing, where the engineers see if their aerodynamic theories work in practice. 13) Daimler-Benz's patented rear window rain trough in the wind tunnel. Half of it is taped over hece, as the water flow shows. 14) 15) and 16) A constant program of crash testing finished cars is the best way to see if the products are really as safe as their designers intended. Cars usually carry anthropomorphic dummies, nicknamed "Oscar Humanus."
17) The only open car still produced by Daimler-Benz and sold in North America is the 450SL, powered by an overhead-cam V8 engine and which, on this side of the ocean, has both hard and soft tops as standard. 18) The flagship of the North American Mercedes-Benz line, the 450SLC, a limited edition, four-seater coupe. 19) The 450SEL, the largest sedan imported into North America. 20) and 21) Two sedans sharing the same basic body shell: the 280 and the 240D, the latter a diesel-powered model which has a large following.
22) Eight Mercedes-Benz models are sold in North America. From left, the 230, 240D and 280 sedans, the 280 coupe, the 450SL coupe-roadster, the 450SLC coupe, and the 450SE and 450SEL sedans. 23) The 450SL at speed. 24), 25), 26) and 28) Instrument placement and legibility have always been of prime importance when designing Mercedes-Benz interiors. 27) Taillights are designed to remain visible even after driving on wet, muddy roads. 29) Design detail on 450SLC. 30) Side mirror, also designed to stay clear in the rain.
MERCEDES-BENZ OF NORTH AMERICA:
The Mercedes-Benz vehicle population in North America today stands at over 300.000—certainly more than Gottlieb Daimler or Karl Benz ever visualized. Yet it was not until the 1950's that the number of Mercedes-Benz cars coming here amounted to anything more than a trickle. That trickle has grown to over 40,000 vehicles a year.
In 1952, when small numbers of European cars were starting to arrive in North America, Daimler-Benz signed an agreement with the Hoffman Motor Company for national distribution of Mercedes-Benz automobiles in the U.S.
The first year a grand total of 36 were registered in the U.S. But, with branches in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, plus a handful of dealers, Hoffman sold 6,452 cars through early 1957 when Daimler-Benz concluded a new agreement with the Studebaker-Packard Corporation. Until then, the Mercedes-Benz models sold here were primarily the 190SL coupe/roadster and the classic 300SL gullwing coupe, a logical way to reintroduce Mercedes-Benz to this market since these two were easily associated with the victories of the three-pointed star on the racing circuits of Europe.
Studebaker established a subsidiary company, Mercedes-Benz Sales, Inc., and under its aegis sales shot up immediately. In 1958, alone, the new organization sold 7,300 cars here. Nearly the complete line of models was available and the single most popular was the diesel, which in those days accounted for about one-third of sales. The MercedesBenz diesel thus became the first automobile of this type to be sold in North America in any significant numbers.
In Canada there were two distributors, one in Toronto for the eastern and central provinces, and another in Vancouver for the western provinces. Between 1962 and 1964, Studebaker's Canadian subsidiary was the distributor for all of Canada.
With the number of Mercedes-Benz owners in the U.S. and Canada approaching the 100,000 mark, the management of Daimler-Benz decided in 1964 that the sales and service for these two important markets should be handled by wholly-owned subsidiaries of the parent company.
Consequently, in early 1965, distribution was set up under two subsidiaries of Daimler-Benz—Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc., with offices in Fort Lee, N.J., forthe U.S., and Mercedes-Benz of Canada, Ltd. with national headquarters in Toronto for Canada.
Starting with less than 250 dealers for both countries in 1965, the two organizations have added slowly and cautiously until today there are more than 460 sales-and-service or service-only dealerships in the U.S. and Canada.
MBNA and MBC spent the next few years strengthening their organizations and smoothing out their basic business functions. And when, in the late 1960's, legislative requirements were adopted for exhaust emissions and safety, there was a reservoir of experience which enabled the subsidiaries to approach these problems calmly and to act as a useful liaison for Daimler-Benz.
As more Mercedes-Benz cars were sold in North America, and as their reputation was re-established with the average motorist, the cars with the three-pointed star were those against which other makes were judged. Awards from such automotive magazines as Road & Track have periodically reaffirmed this. While the major concentration was on passenger cars, Daimler-Benz, basically a manufacturer of a broad range of vehicles and engines, introduced new products to North America.
In the late 1950's, diesel engines were introduced for use in industrial applications. More than 80,000 of these engines are in use in the U.S., primarily as power packages for refrigeration units on long-distance truck and trailer rigs. Other engines found their way onto boats, reflecting again the early ideas of Gottlieb Daimler and William Steinway.
Importation of the Unimog, an allpurpose work vehicle, began in the late 1950's also. Today, many of these vehicles can be found clearing snow-clogged passes in U.S, national parks, or providing added muscle to Canadian mining operations.
Following the Unimog, large buses were introduced, some versions of which can still be seen in Toronto, Washington, D.C., and in the Hawaiian Islands.
Daimler-Benz had become Europe's largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles and the decision to begin marketing trucks here in 1970 was a natural one.
As more and more North Americans wanted Mercedes-Benz vehicles, facilities were expanded, and the decision was taken to build a permanent U.S. headquarters rather than to continue to occupy rented offices as had been the case since 1965.
In 1972, Mercedes-Benz of North America moved into its new headquarters building in Montvale, N.J. Sixty-five years after a fire ended production at William Steinway's American Mercedes factory, the three-pointed star again had a permanent home in the United States.
The Mercedes-Benz field organization can be found in almost every comer of the U.S. 1) The technical training center in Jacksonville. 2) The parts depot in Baltimore. 3) Technicians make final adjustments. 4) Cars waiting to leave the preparation center. 5) The thick coat of wax is removed after the voyage. 6) Testing, and more testing, and 7) still further adjustments, to make sure everything is right. 8) Inside a training center. Mechanics from all over the country attend courses at these facilities.
Our neighbors to the north, Mercedes-Benz of Canada, Ltd., have a large territory to cover, and they do it from Toronto. 14) The service section of the Toronto dealership. 15) The interior of the Toronto preparation center, where all can for the eastern part of Canada are checked. 16) The headquarters building on the outskirts of the city. 17) The Toronto dealership is fully equipped with the latest in chassis dynamometers, which enable technicians to run the cars at "full speed" while they are actually at rest.
Dealerships throughout the United States vary greatly in their appearance, reflecting regional differences in both their architecture and their general appearance, and also reflecting the era in which they were built. Here are a few examples: 18) European Motors, in San Francisco. 19) W. I. Simonson, Inc., in Santa Monica, Calif. 20) Laurel Motors in Westmont, Ill., a Chicago suburb. 21) Smythe European, San Jose, Calif. 22) L. P. Evans, Inc., in Miami. 23) Autohaus Mart, Inc., located north of Miami in Pompano Beach.
24) To some dealers the three-pointed star, and what it stands for, is almost a religion. Perhaps the closest single thing to expressing this feeling can be seen in the church-like window installed in Benzel-Busch, Inc., our dealer in Englewood, N.J.
25) One of the traditions of Mercedes-Benz of North America is the yearly get-together with our dealers, sometimes en masse, and sometimes in regional or zone meetings. Here is MBNA President Karlfrled Nordmann, at the 1973 convention in Stuttgart. More than 800 attended.