They call them the ‘holy halls’. Most car manufacturers have a museum somewhere, and Mercedes-Benz’s is a bit special by most standards.
But not everything in Mercedes’ archive fits in its museum – this is a company with a 125-year history, after all.
So, as you or I might put school reports and old photos and letters in a drawer at the back of the wardrobe, behind a series of nondescript doors around Stuttgart lie the holy halls, seldom seen highlights from the annals of Benz history.
I say ‘seldom seen’, but that’s slightly misleading. Most of the cars Mercedes keeps under dust sheets run; this is an active archive and many are used at events. It’s just that, well, there are so many, many cars that plenty don’t see the light of day too often.
Some will go on rotation into the Mercedes museum. Some won’t. The Vision CLS Concept won’t get rolled out much, you suspect, nor lesser SLC rally cars, nor Helmut Kohl’s old armoured S-Class.
Some cars, well, you’re not really meant to see. Like the Smart ForMore Concept (which I didn’t see on my visit, but does lurk somewhere) that was canned just days before it was meant to get a motorshow debut. And the racing version of the SLR. Merc had 20 made; they weren’t very good, so Mercedes had them crushed. The curator saved two.
There are other racing cars, too. Lots of racing cars. Le Mans cars and pre-war cars that were hidden in Dresden during the war which, along with three million detailed blueprint drawings, miraculously survived unscathed.
Then there are single seaters. So many, many, single seaters and DTM cars, that they put them in wooden boxes stacked against the walls.
I wondered, if I were to creep in at night and liberate a not-too-successful F1 car, how long it would be before anybody noticed that it wasn’t there because it was stapled to my living room wall?
Enjoy the gallery. I know I enjoyed the tour. The pictures are from a brief look around two of the smaller halls.
In total, there are six…