Monday, July 28, 2014

"Das Beste oder nichts." - "The best or nothing."

A Dream Come True
The title is the motto of Gottlieb Daimler, a German engineer who co-founded one of the world's most prominent automobile companies: Mercedes-Benz (The motto also serves as the company's slogan). On Saturday, I took a personal engineering field trip to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, located next to the company's main headquarters, factory, and sports arena. It was a dream come true for someone who is passionate about cars. And this passion inspired to pursue Mechanical Engineering.

Here are a few highlights from my visit...

The museum has eight exhibit floors with five adjacent galleries between each of the floors. Because of the relatively decent size of the exhibits and galleries, they will all be featured here (except one gallery, in which the theme changes on occasion)...

"I do believe in the horse. The automobile is no more than a transitory phenomenon." - Kaiser Wilhelm II, 1886
The Pioneering Founders (from top to bottom): Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, & Wilhelm Maybach

1886-1900, "Pioneers" - The first exhibit features many innovations by Daimler and Benz in developing the automobile, including their first two models from 1886 (pictured) and the first 1- and 2-cylinder internal combustion engines.
1900-1914, "Mercedes, The Birth of the Brand" - After Daimler and Benz were eventually able to convince the people of the time of the potential of the automobile, the two were able to get investors for the production of these automobiles. One investor made a special request: to name the new cars after his daughter, Mercedes. This floor features five of the first Mercedes-Benz models, considered by many to be the first modern automobiles.
1914-1945, "Times of Change, Diesel and Supercharger" - This exhibit features the cars that help put Mercedes-Benz on the map, including three cars designed by legendary German car designer Ferdinand Porsche (who also designed the Volkswagen Beetle and founded his namesake company renowned for premium sports cars).
1914-1945, "Times of Change, Diesel and Supercharger" - In addition to automobile engines, Mercedes-Benz also produced aircraft engines as well. The top three engines picture were used in German planes during World War II.
1945-1960, "Post-War Miracle, Form and Diversity" - The Mercedes brand was revitalized nearly a decade after the end of World War II. To put itself back on the map, the company decided to diversify its lineup, using mass production techniques to create a model range that included family cars and service trucks, in addition to their forte of sports cars.
1945-1960, "Post-War Miracle, Form and Diversity" - During their revitalization, Mercedes-Benz builds one of the most iconic sports cars ever, the 1954 300 SL, with its unique "gullwing" doors.
1960-1982, "Visionaries, Safety and Environment" - This exhibit features cars that include many safety innovations pioneered by Mercedes-Benz that have become standard in today's cars, such as airbags, safety cells and crumple zones.
1982 and beyond, "The Road to Emission-Free Mobility" - This exhibit features examples of how Mercedes-Benz has been trying to reduce emission levels and increase fuel efficiency for its vehicles, including a plug-in hybrid model for its S-Class luxury executive limousine and BlueTEC/BlueEFFICIENCY technology to reduce emissions for diesel vehicles.
The Gallery of Voyagers, which features various, prominent Mercedes-Benz people-carriers (buses and limousines) throughout the years.

The Gallery of Carriers, which features various service carriers, in which the cargo ranges from gasoline, barrels and other cars, just to name a few.
The Gallery of Helpers, which features various service vehicles including a firetruck, Unimog snow plow, police car, and company service vehicle.
The Gallery of Celebrities, which features various Mercedes-Benz cars associated or owned by celebrities or pop culture, including Pope John Paul II's Popemobile (based on the G-Class); Princess Diana's maroon 500SL; the bus which carried the 1974 German National Football Team, who won that year; and, my personal favorite...
...the M-Class "Observatory" featured in Steven Spielberg's 1997 hit movie, The Lost World: Jurassic Park. At the time of the movie's release, the M-Class SUV was a new model and the company's first new SUV since the G-Class of 1979. Another Mercedes-Benz SUV, a G63 AMG 6x6 concept, will be featured in the fourth movie in the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World, slated for release in summer 2015.
Part of the "Silver Arrows" exhibit - My personal favorite, this exhibit features prominent race cars raced by teams sponsored by Mercedes-Benz and/or powered by Mercedes engines. Pictured here are the modern racecars.
The 2008 McLaren MP4-23 was the last racecar powered by a Mercedes-Benz engine to win a Formula 1 World Championship. This particular chassis was driven by British driver Lewis Hamilton, who secured his World Drivers' Championship (for individual drivers) in the last few seconds of the final race of the season, the Brazilian Grand Prix. Since 2013, Hamilton drives for the Mercedes works team (owned wholly by Mercedes-Benz), Mercedes AMG Petronas (the company reentered the sport in 2010 after a 55-year hiatus). Hamilton currently ranks second in this season's Championship standings with 191 points compared to his teammate, German Nico Rosberg, who ranks first with 202 points.
McLaren's previous World Constructors' Championship (as a team) came in 1998, when it fielded this chassis, the MP4-13. This particular chassis was driven by Finnish driver Mika Häkkinen, who became World Drivers' Champion for that season. Häkkinen is currently involved in driver management, having retired from motorsport in 2007.
The historic "Silver Arrows" of the 1930s into the 1950s. The term "Silver Arrow" was coined by the press at that time to describe the dominance of Mercedes-Benz racecars in grand prix racing in the 1930s. The "silver" part came from the fact that the German racecars, particularly those raced by Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union (now Audi) were not painted. The aluminum body was polished instead (at other times, the cars were painted white). Thus, silver became the official German racing color. The tradition continues into the modern-day, with the now carbon-fiber body of the Mercedes AMG Petronas racecars painted silver.
In 1954 and 1955, Mercedes-Benz (as Daimler AG) secured their first two Formula 1 World Championships with Argentine driver Juan Manuel Fangio driving this "Silver Arrow" chassis, the W196 Monoposto.
At the entrance of the museum stands one of the most iconic, reputable, and rugged 4-wheel drive SUVs ever, the Geländewagen, also known as the G-Wagen or G-Class, which is still being built by hand in Austria. This particular model, a G-Class Professional, is one of a number of G-Classes that were sent over to Japan in 2011 as part of Daimler's aid in the relief effort for the earthquake that hit the nation that year.

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