Benz patent motor car, 1886 (replica)
On 29 January 1886, Carl Benz was granted a patent for his “vehicle with gas-engine drive”. Patent certificate DRP 37,435 is therefore considered to be the birth certificate of the automobile and gives the patent motor car its name. It was the world's first automobile to represent an integrated whole with the engine and chassis forming a single unit. Benz made it a three-wheeled vehicle because he was not convinced by the fifth-wheel steering system widely used in four-wheeled carriages at the time. Carl Benz's crucial achievement was the systematic way in which he made his vision of a horseless carriage a reality: he had the idea for a motorised vehicle, designed it, built it, obtained the patent, tested it, brought it to market, put it into series production, developed it further and thereby made his invention useable. The Benz patent motor car heralded a new era in personal mobility.
Year of production: 1886
No. of cylinders: 1
Displacement: 984 cc
Output: 0.9 hp (0.66 kW)
Top speed: just under 10 mph (16 km/h)
40 hp Mercedes-Simplex, 1902
The 40 hp Mercedes-Simplex was launched in March 1902, replacing the legendary 35 hp Mercedes. The suffix “Simplex” was intended to indicate how easy the new model was to operate for its time. Its predecessor, which was also the first vehicle to bear the Mercedes name, had become an icon as soon as it appeared in December 1900. It defined a distinct shape for the automobile in general and is still regarded as a masterpiece of technical sophistication and beauty. Characteristic features include the long wheelbase, the light and powerful engine fitted low down and the honeycomb radiator integrated organically into the front end, which was to become distinctive for the marque. The 35 hp Mercedes marked the end of the carriage style that had dominated the industry and is thus considered to be the first modern car.
Year of production: 1902
No. of cylinders: 4
Displacement: 6558 cc
Output: 40 hp (31 kW)
Top speed: 46 mph (75 km/h)
Mercedes-Benz 500 K Cabriolet B, 1936
In 1934, the Mercedes-Benz 500 K took over from the legendary S and SS models which had shaped the performance image of Mercedes-Benz since the 1920s. The 500 K – the K here denotes the Kompressor (supercharger) – coupled a previously unknown level of refinement with what for the time was sensational performance. The 500 K could handle crawling traffic with ease yet reveal a temperament on demand that simply took people's breath away.
Pressing slightly more firmly on the accelerator pedal induces 60 percent more output because then the compressor clutch kicks in and the Roots blower forces air at 0.3 bar into the twin carburettor, thereby unleashing an extra 60 hp (44 kW). As was standard for Mercedes-Benz in the mid-1930s, the resulting 160 hp (118 kW) was transferred to the road surface by a swing axle with coil springs.
The impressive technology on the 500 K was complemented by masterpieces in body construction from Sindelfingen. Buyers of the 500 K could choose from no less than nine variants, with the majority opting for the Cabriolet B.
Year of production: 1936
No. of cylinders: 8
Displacement: 5018 cc
Output: 100 hp (74 kW)
With supercharger: 160 hp (118 kW)
Top speed: 100 mph (160 km/h)
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198), 1954
In 1954, Mercedes-Benz presented the 300 SL Gullwing derived from the successful 300 SL racing sports car, simultaneously making it quite simply the European dream car of the 1950s. For the first time on a passenger car, the brand put its faith in direct petrol injection on this model instead of the traditional engine with carburettor. The complex tubular frame of the 300 SL (the components of which are only in tension and compression with no bending loads) and the ingenious dry sump lubrication stemmed directly from experience gained in motorsport.
Based on the 300 model premiered in 1951, the six-cylinder engine was canted at a 45-degree angle to the left to give the car a particularly flat and aerodynamically efficient front end. The suspension – wishbone at the front, dual-joint swing axle at the rear – was adopted from the racing 300 SL (W 194). In 1952, this W 194 model series notched up a one-two victory in both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Carrera Panamericana across Mexico and also came second in the Mille Miglia. As a consequence, the 300 SL prepared the ground for the unparalleled winning streak enjoyed by the Mercedes-Benz brand in international motorsport during the 1950s.
In the 1955 Mille Miglia, the W 198 model series was driven to victory by the German-American Fitch / Gsell team in the category for GT vehicles with a displacement in excess of 1.6 litres (fifth overall).
Production period: 1954 to 1957
No. of cylinders: 6
Displacement: 2996 cc
Output: 215 hp (158 kW)
Top speed: 146–161 mph (235–260 km/h) depending on rear axle ratio
Mercedes-Benz 250 SE Cabriolet, 1967
On incorporating the new 2.5-litre injection engine of the fintail W 108 successor model series (Mercedes-Benz 250 SE), the 220 SE Cabriolet left the factory as the Mercedes-Benz 250 SE Cabriolet from August 1965 onwards. The simple design of the 220 SE, which had entered production in September 1961, proved to be so timeless that both the Cabriolet and Coupé were able to exist alongside the totally new S-Class.
The self-supporting frame and flooring assembly with double-wishbone front suspension and single-joint rear swing axle were derived from its 2.2-litre predecessor. The four disc brakes were new, though, for exemplary deceleration compared to the previous disc/drum brake combination. This braking system was only available for the 300 SE model of the first fintail generation.
The 150 hp (110 kW) injection engine helps give the Cabriolet a striking temperament: it takes just 12 seconds to sprint from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) and the top speed of 120 mph (193 km/h) was one of the best in the mid-1960s. The roof is carefully constructed so that there is no noise disturbance even at high speed.
Production period: 1961 to 1971
No. of cylinders: 6
Displacement: 2496 cc
Output: 150 hp (110 kW)
Top speed: approx. 120 mph (193 km/h)
Mercedes-Benz 280 SL, 1968
The “Pagoda” W 113 SL model series, so-called by enthusiasts due to its pagoda-shaped hardtop, bridged the tricky gap between high-performance sports car and comfortable touring car. It combined the best qualities of the two predecessor vehicles – the uncompromising 300 SL (W 198) and the highly civilised 190 SL (W 121). Armed with such virtues, the W 113 model series drove straight into the hearts of an ambitious clientele who wanted to see the exceptional performance and characteristics of a thoroughbred sports car combined with the spaciousness and ride comfort of a luxury vehicle.
The top version of the 280 SL (W 113 E 28) produces 170 hp (125 kW) at a displacement of 2.8 litres – 20 hp (15 kW) more than the two preceding models, the 230 SL (W 113) and 250 SL (W 113A). Thanks to higher elasticity, this displacement and additional output has benefits in terms of operating comfort and the refinement of the in-line six-cylinder engine. It is no wonder therefore that the 280 SL model in the Pagoda series also took the crown when it came to sales, attracting almost as many buyers as the 230 SL and 250 SL models combined.
Year of production: 1970
No. of cylinders: 6
Displacement: 2778 cc
Output: 170 hp (125 kW)
Top speed: 124 mph (200 km/h)
Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9, 1980
In 1972, the luxury model series with which Mercedes-Benz had been setting automotive standards for decades, officially got its name. The new S-Class (W 116 model series) – like the 350 SL sports car unveiled in 1971 – stood out for its holistic safety concept. For example, the fuel tank was placed above the rear axle to protect it in the event of a collision and there was a four-spoke safety steering wheel, generously sized headlamps, more conspicuous indicators, as well as side windows and ribbed tail lights designed to minimise the build-up of dirt. The powerful and exceptionally comfortable 450 SEL 6.9 appeared in 1975 as the flagship model in the series with a large-displacement V8 engine and hydropneumatic suspension. In 1978, the S-Class became the world's first production vehicle to be available with ABS, which helps to retain steering control in the event of full brake application. At the time a world sensation, thanks to the pioneering work of Mercedes-Benz, ABS is now standard across the automotive industry.
Year of production: 1980
No. of cylinders: V8
Displacement: 6834 cc
Output: 286 hp (210 kW)
Top speed: 140 mph (225 km/h)
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, 2010
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG caused a furore as soon as it was unveiled at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt. That is because the sports car with its gullwing doors does not deny its design affinity with the legendary 300 SL (W 198, 1954) and 300 SLR (W 196 S, 1955) models. It is the first vehicle to be developed entirely by AMG, the performance arm of Mercedes-Benz.
This super sports car from Mercedes-Benz and AMG features an exciting and unique technology package: aluminium spaceframe body, AMG 6.2-litre V8 front mid-engine with dry sump lubrication, maximum output of 571 hp (420 kW), 650 Nm of torque, seven-speed dual clutch transmission in a transaxle configuration and sports suspension with aluminium double wishbone, plus a 47:53 weight distribution. This combination guarantees driving dynamics of the highest order. The gullwing model accelerates from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.8 seconds, while the top speed is electronically limited to 197 mph (317 km/h).
In Formula One, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG has acted as the official safety car since the 2010 season.
Production period: 2010 onwards
No. of cylinders: V8
Displacement: 6208 cc
Output: 571 hp (420 kW)
Top speed: 197 mph (317 km/h)