30/05/2024

Mercedes-Benz Enthusiasts Guide

Enthusiast Guides

Classic Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster.

The Ultimate Guide for Mercedes-Benz Enthusiasts

A timeless legacy. 

When you think of automotive luxury and elegance, Mercedes-Benz is a name that probably springs to mind. The brand’s reputation isn’t just about its modern, cutting-edge vehicles – it’s rooted in a legacy that spans over a century. This rich past is filled with innovative milestones, classic designs, and legendary cars that have stood the test of time.  

For over 55 years, Heritage has been providing specialist Mercedes-Benz insurance so we certainly know a thing or two about this iconic car brand. Here, we delve further into the world of Mercedes-Benz. From the brand’s illustrious history to its enduring influence and most iconic models – we’ve got it all covered in our ultimate enthusiasts’ guide to Mercedes-Benz. 

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A brief history of Mercedes-Benz

The story of Mercedes-Benz isnt just a series of dates and models; its a tale of constantly pushing the boundaries of automotive innovation. Explore the origins and history of Mercedes-Benz with our timeline:

1886

The dawn of the automotive era. In 1886, Karl Benz invented what is widely considered the first automobile: the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. With a rear-mounted single-cylinder engine, this three-wheeled machine revolutionised personal transport and laid the foundation for Mercedes-Benz with the very first car. 

1899

Emil Jellinek, a businessman and automobile dealer, begins to sell vehicles for the DaimlerMotorenGesellschaft (DMG). His daughters name, Mercedes, would later become synonymous with some of the finest automobiles in the world. 

1901

Mercedes-Benz as we know it started taking shape with the introduction of the Mercedes 35 HP at the Nice Race Week. Designed by Wilhelm Maybach, this car set new standards for automotive engineering. 

1926

Two car companies, Benz & Cie. (founded in 1883) and Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (founded in 1890) merged. This is when Mercedes-Benz was officially founded. On one side was Karl Benz, an engineering genius, and on the other were Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, two pioneers with a shared vision of the future of transport. 

1931

Mercedes-Benz introduces the independent suspension system, a feature that enhances ride quality and vehicle handling, setting a new benchmark for the automotive industry. 

1954

The introduction of the 300 SL Gullwing at the New York Auto Show took the automobile world by storm. This sports car was groundbreaking not only for its unique upswinging door design but also its race-car pedigree and high-performance credentials. More on this classic car later. 

1965

Though not officially named S-Class until later, the W108 and W109 models launched and became the predecessors of the S-Class. These models set new standards for vehicle safety, comfort, and performance. 

1971

Mercedes-Benz began working on Experimental Safety Vehicles as part of the ESV programme, which focused on safety technology. Many innovations from these experiments eventually made it into production models. 

The brand has set industry standards, pioneering safety measures that have not just influenced Mercedes-Benz cars but revolutionised the entire automotive landscape. 

One of the programme’s most significant developments was the anti-lock braking system (ABS) launched later that decade.  

1980

Mercedes-Benz became the worlds first automaker to offer an airbag and seatbelt tensioner system as optional equipment, a massive leap forward for car safety. 

1991

The W140 S-Class was launched – a model that set new standards for safety, comfort, and innovation. Features included double-pane window glazing, self-closing doors and trunk, and a heating system that could continue to operate even when the engine was turned off. 

2003

In collaboration with McLaren Automotive, Mercedes-Benz introduced the SLR McLaren, a grand tourer that combined the luxury of Mercedes with the performance of McLaren. 

2013

The brand made a significant leap in terms of eco-friendly solutions with the launch of the fully electric Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Unfortunately, the car failed to resonate with the market and production was phased out in 2017. 

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Image by Mercedes-Benz Media.
2016

Following the discontinuation of Electric Drive Mercedes-Benz introduced EQ, a sub-brand focused on electric vehicles, symbolising electric intelligence’. This marked a new direction for Mercedes-Benz. 

2023

In early 2023 the company announced it would phase out the EQ branding, aligning with their commitment to make their entire line-up fully electric by 2030. 

Timeless beauty: Mercedes-Benz’s most iconic cars

Mercedes-Benz has a history of producing aesthetically pleasing models that are well-received by car enthusiasts around the globe. For Mercedes-Benz, design is more than just an add-on – its integral to its identity, making each era of this iconic brand appealing to collectors. Here are a few of our favourite Mercedes-Benz motors: 

The iconic 300 SL Gullwing 

As noted in our timeline, Mercedes-Benz launched the 300 SL Gullwing in 1954, a car that set new benchmarks in the sports car category.  

Known for its unique upward-opening doors that resembled seagull wings, it became widely known as the Gullwing. With its 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, the vehicle represented a well-executed blend of engineering and design.  

Nearly 50 years after its debut, it was named Sports Car of the Century in 1999, proving it’s definitely a car that stands the test of time. 

Even today, the Gullwing’s popularity endures. It’s become a highly sought-after vehicle at classic car auctions. In May 2022, RM Sotheby’s sold a 1955 Gullwing for just over $5 million, while a rare green model restored by The Indianapolis Motorway Speedway Museum sold for $1.8 million in 2023. 

A Mercedes 300 SL.
A Mercedes 300 SL. Image sourced on Wikipedia Commons.
A modern Mercedes S Class Saloon.
Modern Mercedes S Class Saloon. Image by Mercedes-Benz Media.

The luxurious S-Class sedans 

When it comes to luxury, the S-Class captures the essence of what Mercedes-Benz is all about. The roots of the S-Class go back to the 1950s and the introduction of the 220 model.  

The design language of the S-Class has evolved over the years, now striking a balance between classic and modern aesthetics. While earlier models were known for their simple lines, today’s S-Class features a more sculpted appearance. But the unmistakable Mercedes-Benz grille remains a central feature  

SL Roadsters: The beauty of open-top driving 

The SL Roadster series is an important chapter in the history of Mercedes-Benz. 

Introduced in the 1950s, these cars are as well known for their elegance as their performance. From its elongated hood to its muscular rear, every line and curve of the SL Roadster is designed to captivate.  

The option for either a hard or soft top ensures that drivers can enjoy the best of both worlds: the freedom of a convertible and the quiet, cosy experience of a coupe. This makes the SL Roadster as versatile as it is beautiful. 

A 1957 Mercedes 300 SL Roadster in a Mercedes showroom.
A 1957 Mercedes 300 SL Roadster. Image by Mercedez-Benz Media.
A Mercedes G-Class driving off road in a desert.
A Mercedes G-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz Media.

G-Class SUV: The luxury tank 

If Mercedes-Benz sedans and roadsters are all about elegance and sophistication, the G-Class SUVs are about ruggedness combined with luxury.  

Introduced in the late 1970s, the G-Class or “G-Wagen” was originally designed for military use. Its boxy shape and utilitarian features bring a different aesthetic to the Mercedes-Benz line-up.  

This tough exterior juxtaposed with a luxury interior soon caught the eye of civilians. Today, it’s still popular among those who want to conquer both city streets and rugged terrains without compromising on comfort – or luxury. 

Mercedes-Benz at the movies

Mercedes-Benz has had a lasting impact not just on the roads but also in the pages of pop culture. Which of these movies have you spotted Mercedes-Benz in? 

  • The Rookie (1990): This 90s action thriller stars Client Eastwood as a detective, and Charlie Sheen as his rookie assistant. In one iconic scene, Eastwood drives a Mercedes-Benz 500 SL out the fourth-floor window of an exploding building in a daredevil stunt. 
  • The Bourne Supremacy (2004): A Mercedes-Benz G-Class takes on a villainous role in this action movie. Driven by Karl Urban’s character, who’s hot on the heels of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne, this 1990 G-Class is more than just a set prop. From the W463 generation, the SUV is powered by a 5.0-litre V8 engine churning out 296 horsepower. 
  • The Hangover (2009): This comedy film features both a 1965 Mercedes-Benz 220SE and a 1969 280SE. As well as being driven down the iconic Vegas strip, these cars suffer a series of unfortunate mishaps during their cinematic journey – including famously transporting Mike Tyson’s Bengal tiger. 
  • A Good Day to Die Hard (2013): This was the fifth film of the Die Hard series starring Bruce Willis. Set against the dramatic backdrop of Moscow, Mercedes-Benz truly had a starring role in this movie. It featured several models, including the G-Class, the Unimog, the Sprinter, a GL-Class and a Maybach 57. 
  • Jurassic World (2015): In this instalment of the Jurassic Park series, you may have spotted a few different Mercedes-Benz motors including a G-Class SUV, heavy-duty Unimog truck, and the extraordinary G63 AMG 6×6. These vehicles were part of the theme park’s transportation fleet. 

Five fun facts about Mercedes-Benz

From the story behind the iconic logo to its status as the maker of the worlds most expensive car, how many of these interesting facts about Mercedes-Benz did you already know? 

1. The history of the Mercedes-Benz logo

The Mercedes-Benz logo, the iconic three-pointed star, represents the brands ambition to dominate land, sea, and air transportation. Image by Mercedes-Benz Media.

 2. The Mercedes-Benz ‘popemobile

The brand has a long history of creating custom vehicles for the Pope, commonly known as thePopemobile”. The first Mercedes-Benz Popemobile was a Nürburg 460 Pullman saloon used by Pope Pius XI, and it was delivered to the Vatican in 1930. Image by Ramac on Wikimedia Commons.

3. Famous owners

As well as the Pope, several other celebrities, royals, and high-profile individuals have been Mercedes-Benz owners. Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage purchased a Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3 in 1993, while Lady Diana, the former Princess of Wales, drove a 500 SL in 1991. Other famous Mercedes-Benz owners reportedly include Elvis Presley, Coco Chanel, and John Lennon. Image by Valder137 on Wikimedia Commons.

4. The Chicken Tax

To avoid a 25% import tax on light trucks imposed by the USA (known as the Chicken Tax), Mercedes-Benz used to ship its popular Sprinter vans in pieces from Germany to South Carolina, where they were then reassembled. Image by Mercedes-Benz Media.

5. The most expensive car in the world

A 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe set a record when it sold for an astonishing $142 million at an auction held at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart in 2022. This silver beauty, complete with iconic gullwing doors and distinct exhaust pipes, currently holds the record of the most expensive car ever sold at auction. Image by Jan Saudek via Wikimedia Commons.

The Mercedes-Benz community: Car clubs & events

There’s a loyal network of Mercedes-Benz fans across the UK. Since the formation of the first Mercedes-Benz Club over 70 years ago, there’s been many gatherings and events for enthusiasts. Mercedes-Benz cars, including vintage models, are also commonly seen at car shows. Here’s how you can join the Mercedes-Benz community, through car clubs, events, and more: 

Mercedes-Benz Club 

Established in 1952, the Mercedes-Benz Club was the first of its kind anywhere in the world. The club is for all kinds of Mercedes-Benz fans – those who may own a classic Mercedes, or those who just love the brand itself. Members can enjoy access to an online forum to connect with likeminded Mercedes enthusiasts, exclusive car listings, a monthly magazine, and access to various meet-ups and events around the UK. 

Mercedes-Benz World 

All Mercedes-Benz lovers should experience Mercedes-Benz World at least once in their lives. Located in Weybridge, Surrey, it’s a true haven for enthusiasts. With driving experiences – on track and off-road, passenger rides, attractions such as the F1™ simulator, and a little learner’s area with mini Mercedes-Benz cars to ride on, there is fun for all ages.   

Mercedes-Benz Owners Club

Mercedes-Benz Owners (MBO) is a community based subscription organisation that provides owners and enthusiasts with greater pleasure from their interest in the Mercedes marque with various benefits.

By becoming part of the MBO you will immediately feel the benefit. There is also an active forum that people use to chat with other Mercedes-Benz owners. We ourselves are members and actively answer any insurance queries that the members have.

Mercedes-Benz events 

Please check the event websites for dates and more information.  

  • Classics & Coffee: If you find yourself in Stuttgart, and you’re a classic car fan, a trip to the Mercedes-Benz Museum is a must. Make sure you visit on a Sunday for their weekly Classics & Coffee meet-up where you can see a whole host of vintage Mercedes-Benz models. If you can’t make it to Germany, they sometimes host similar events at Mercedes-Benz World. 
  • Simply Mercedes: An unmissable gathering for Mercedes-Benz owners, the Beaulieu Simply Mercedes show is typically held every August. From custom G Classes to restored SSKs, expect to see a wide range of Mercedes-Benz models to admire. Participants also have a shot at the coveted People’s Choice Award, making it not just a showcase, but a competition for enthusiasts. 
  • Benz on the Green: Perfect for all the family, this annual charity fun day is typically held in May in Finchdean, Hampshire. The event promises a day full of stunning Mercedes cars and tasty BBQ. Free car checks are also available, and you can even showcase your own Mercedes-Benz. 

We can’t guarantee this is a complete list, so if you don’t see your club or event on here, please ping us a message and we will add it. Just send us an email!

Are you the proud owner of a classic Mercedes-Benz?

We’d love to help you give your Mercedes-Benz the cover it needs, and we offer great benefits like free agreed value, European driving cover for continental jaunts, and club member discounts.  

If you’re interested in finding out more about our specialist Mercedes-Benz insurance, get in touch today for more information and a free quote. 

Sources