Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Porsche, BMW… most of the German brands have huge car collections housed in extravagant museums – usually free-of-charge to visit. However, Mercedes is the only marque to have opened such a showcase in the UK. Welcome to Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands, Surrey.
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- Mercedes-AMG A45 (2016) review: Two-Minute Road Test
- Mercedes-Benz 190E: Retro Road Test
Mercedes-Benz 190 SL
Taking centre-stage in the foyer of Mercedes-Benz World is this 1960 190 SL, owned by British model, David Gandy. Previous celebrity 190 SL owners include Alfred Hitchcock and The King himself: Elvis Presley.
Powered by a 122hp 1.9-litre in-line four, the 190 SL had a top speed of 120mph. It cost £2,600 when launched in 1955 – the equivalent of more than £100,000 today.
Mercedes-Benz 190 E Brabus 3.6S
Coolest car at Mercedes-Benz World? We think so. Owned by Brabus PR manager, Sven Gramm, this red hot 190 E is actually a replica of a 1988 Brabus 3.6S demo car that never made production.
With no rear seats or air-con, the 268hp 3.6S could hit 62mph in 6.3 seconds and a VMAX of 162mph. That makes it faster than the factory 2.5-16 Evo II – “effectively a 190 E Clubsport”, says Mercedes.
Mercedes-Benz 280 SL
The W113 SL earned the nickname ‘Pagoda’ because of its curvaceous hard-top roof and is still one of the most beautiful cars ever made. This particular SL was driven by Jodie Kidd in the opening sequence to The Classic Car Show.
The Pagoda began life in 1963 as the 2.3-litre 230 SL. The 2.8-litre 280 SL seen here didn’t arrive until 1967, boasting 170hp and 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds. Power steering and servo assisted brakes make it an easy car to drive – even by modern standards.
Mercedes-AMG G 63
The Mercedes G-Class is a classic of sorts, having remained in production since 1979. The testosterone-pumped AMG versions have become the car of choice for wealthy urbanites – albeit usually in black, rather than the ‘Solar Beam’ yellow seen here.
This V8-engined G 63 makes 571hp and blasts to 62mph in 5.4 seconds. With a modest £4,750-worth of options, it would set you back £152,377. We’ll spend the cash on a Pagoda SL and an old G-Wagen for winter, thanks.
The very first car
Lest we forget, the very first car was a Mercedes-Benz. This is a faithful replica of the Benz Patent Motor Car, complete with a 954cc single-cylinder engine, solid wheels, leather brakes and a tiller for steering.
In 1888, Bertha Benz and her sons drove 121 miles from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back in the ‘Motorwagen’. They bought fuel from chemists and used Bertha’s hatpin to clear a carburettor blockage. It was the first long journey ever undertaken in a car.
The first owner of this Smart Crossblade was chirpy British pop star, Robbie Williams. Supposedly, Robbie remarked: “Wow, I just love this car. It’s innovative and unconventional, the two qualities I look for in new projects”. Hmm.
The Crossblade was a special edition of the Smart City Cabriolet without a windscreen, roof or conventional doors. Its Brabus-tuned engine developed 71hp for a (very windy) top speed of 83mph.
Mercedes-AMG GT S
You can buy a car at Mercedes-Benz World – indeed, a large part of the complex is taken up by Mercedes’ Brooklands dealership. This used AMG GT S caught our eye, although it’s slightly beyond our budget…
There’s a near-identical GT S displayed inside, too. Vital stats for this 911 Turbo-rival are 510hp and 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds. Oh, and that Solar Beam paint option? A mere £10,695.
Mercedes-Benz F200 Imagination concept
This radical concept car was based on a 1996 Mercedes S-Class. Active suspension uses sensors operating hydraulic cylinders for each wheel, keeping the car level – even when cornering.
However, the F200’s interior is where things really get radical. Two ‘fly by wire’ joysticks take the place of a steering wheel. The driver pushes forwards to accelerate, pulls back to brake and moves the sticks left or right to steer. Sounds mildly terrifying.
Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Cosworth
If your budget won’t stretch to that one-of-a-kind Brabus, this 190 E 2.5-16 is the next best thing. A homologation special built for the German Touring Car Championship (DTM), the 190’s 2.5-litre 16v engine was tuned by British engineering specialists, Cosworth.
If this car looks a little tattier than the MB-World norm, that’s because it was owned by the late Mike Hall, chief designer at Cosworth. Hall designed both 2.3-16 and 2.5-16 engines for the 190 E in 1984.
Mercedes-Benz 280 SE Cabriolet
We finish with this glorious 280 SE Cabriolet: predecessor to the modern S-Class. A 160hp 2.8-litre straight-six wafts it to 112mph, although the later 300 SEL 6.3 is the one we really want.
In fact, the 300 SEL 6.3 was the car that made AMG’s name. In 1971, the tuning company bored-out the big Merc’s engine to 6.8 litres and took victory in the Spa 24-Hour race. AMG would eventually become part of Mercedes, and the S-Class the definitive luxury car.