Juan Manuel Fangio II. (W 196 R streamliner, links), Stirling Moss (W 196 S "658", Mitte), Hans Herrmann (W 196 R open-wheel version), Mercedes-Benz Classic, Goodwood Revival 2011
Stuttgart, 5 January, 2011
125 years of the automobile was a momentous anniversary – and celebrations of this milestone represented the main focus of our activities in 2011. “Over the year, Mercedes-Benz Classic was able to demonstrate the fascination of the Mercedes-Benz brand on a world-wide basis. We were able to move both people and vehicles,” commented Michael Bock, Head of Mercedes-Benz Classic and Managing Director of the Mercedes-Benz Museum GmbH. “Vehicles from our own collection alone played a part in 1,400 events – almost twice as many as would be normal in a year without such an anniversary. A truly extraordinary achievement and a great result for the year.”
Just a few key data to show just how much was achieved in 2011: the three-wheeler patented by Carl Benz in 1886, for example, and which is considered to be the world’s first automobile, made 160 appearances at events all over the world. What is more, in spring 2011 the patent for the first vehicle to be powered by an internal combustion engine was made a UNESCO World Heritage Document. The company’s own collection of vehicles includes several replicas of this first Patent Motor Car.
The first long-distance journey with an automobile, undertaken in 1888 by Bertha Benz from Mannheim to Pforzheim in an improved version of the Patent Motor Car, was re-enacted over a distance of some 180 kilometres in the summer of 2011 by Germany’s South-West Broadcasting (“Südwestfunk”) radio station SWR 1, with support from Mercedes-Benz Classic. This was automotive history brought to life, and was extremely well received, both by people encountered along the way and as a response to the daily broadcast reports. The original route was in fact extended for the rerun as far as Stuttgart and the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
A review of the year reveals some impressive figures: in 2011, more than 1,400 vehicles were made available for appearances at nearly 470 events around the world. Altogether, the collection these days comprises more than 900 vehicles that represent the long history of Mercedes-Benz – passenger cars, commercial vehicles and racing cars. In fact the collection would be quite justified in describing itself as one gigantic museum on wheels. In 2011 alone 35 new vehicles joined the collection. One of these was the final car to leave the production line of the R 230-series SL: the last vehicle to be built went straight into the collection, ahead of the launch of the new SL in January 2012.
Mercedes-Benz Classic also took part with selected vehicles in numerous events in the international classic car calendar. These included, for example, participation in the Mille Miglia with a total of 18 vehicles; at the Goodwood Revival in honour of racing driver Juan Manuel Fangio, who would have been 100 years old in 2011; and in the “London to Brighton” veteran car run. A new participant in this year’s activities was a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE, which has been rebuilt by the Mercedes-Benz Classic engineers as a track vehicle for historical motor racing events and competed during the 2011 season in various events promoted by the historic racing vehicle series “Fahrergemeinschaft Historischer Rennsport e. V.” (FHR).
The Mercedes-Benz Classic Archive is considered one of the most extensive corporate archives in the whole of Europe, and probably the most comprehensive in the automotive industry. The figures make the scope of the archives very clear: if all the material in the archives were to be lined up a row, it would cover a distance of 15 kilometres. Adding to this are more than 3 million photos and 2,500 film media. The Mercedes-Benz Classic Archive and Collection themselves celebrated a round anniversary in 2011, having been officially established 75 years ago, in December 1936.
About 701,000 visitors from more than 175 countries visited the Mercedes-Benz Museum during 2011. 4000 guided tours in ten languages were given. This was due not only to the anniversary celebrations marking “125 years of the automobile”, but also to the attractive programme of events that has become a regular feature of the museum's activities. Since it opened five years ago, in May 2006, the new museum has welcomed 4.2 million visitors through its doors – around a third of them from outside Germany. The majority of visitors come from Germany, followed by China, the US, France and Switzerland.
Mercedes-Benz maintains various heritage sites as reminders of the inventors of the automobile. As just one example, in 2011 over 20,000 visitors from countries all over the world came to visit the birthplace of Gottlieb Daimler in Schorndorf, while well over 10,000 also visited his former workshop, the so-called “greenhouse”, in Cannstatt.
The Mercedes-Benz Classic Center is the main centre of expertise for all the technical aspects of classic vehicles dating back through the history of Mercedes-Benz. Again and again the Center sets new standards for the quality and authenticity of restoration work undertaken. Over the course of the year, for example, a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL that had been restored there to its original condition was sold to a customer – a superb example of a top-class collectors’ piece of this model. The determination to maintain authenticity is supported by an excellent replacement parts service for the brand: the warehouse inventory currently comprises some 35,000 active line items, and any part can be delivered to a customer in Germany within 24 hours. In 2011, replacement parts provision for the 124 model series was transferred to the Classic Center, adding a further 12,000 items to the inventory. Total revenues for the year from the sale of replacement parts for classic and “young classic” vehicles amounted to 126 million euros.
As always, Mercedes-Benz Classic continues to work closely with officially recognised brand clubs, which provide an important link between the classic vehicle scene and Daimler AG. The latest figures reveal that altogether the clubs currently have around 80,000 members, in all corners of the world, and held more than 200 events of their own in 2011. The German clubs alone saw almost 1,400 new members joining. Some of the clubs had anniversaries of their own to celebrate, in Germany for instance the Mercedes-Benz SL Club Pagoda (30 years), the Mercedes-Benz Veteran Car Club of Germany (30 years), the Mercedes-Benz Model Car Club (25 years), and the Mercedes-Benz R 129 SL Club (10 years). But Mercedes-Benz Classic also held its own events: in the spring of 2011 a group under the heading “Mercedes-Benz & Friends” travelled to the Côte d’Azur, where they were able to retrace the early history of the brand. August then saw some 2,000 vehicles and 1,800 club members from more than 30 countries, along with 200,000 visitors, gather at the former Tempelhof airport in Berlin to mark the anniversary of “125 years of the automobile” in what was the biggest celebration of the Mercedes-Benz brand ever to have taken place.
The division’s activities in the area of new media have also proved extremely successful. Over 21,000 fans follow what the world’s oldest automotive brand is up to on Facebook. The new Mercedes-Benz Classic app for iPhone® and iPad® has also already been downloaded more than 200,000 times. The app provides a state-of-the-art way to find out more about the heritage and the legend of Mercedes-Benz.