So, after coming back from Munich with John John, Stacey, and Diana, JJ, Stacey, and I hit up the Mercedes museum. I had already been to the outstanding Porsche Museum and the less outstanding but still good BMW Museum so I was really looking forward to the supposed king-of-all-car museums, THE Mercedes Museum.
The museum is not too far from the center of Stuttgart in an area called Unterturkheim. Mercedes has their headquarters there along with a factory or two and the museum. I enjoy this part of town because they have industry in bottom of the river valley and wine grows on the hillsides all around. It's a lovely juxtaposition.
A view of some of the many Mercedes, or "Daimler" as it's referred to locally here in Stuttgart, buildings taken from the inside of the museum:
The outside of the Mercedes Museum is a curvey, gray metal and glass office-looking building. It's good looking but not as futuristic as the Porsche museum (but better than BMW's). The outside, though, gives you no indication of what's inside. I was blown away by what I saw just inside the door. This is the atrium with modern style including the crazy, pod-like elevators:
Actually, the interior reminded me in some ways of Oakley's mega futuristic headquarters in California. Like Porsche and BMW, the museum is spread over multiple floors and shows the history of Mercedes from the first motors all the way up to modern, Formula1 cars. This shot shows some motors, an airplane, and, way off in the distance, some classic cars:
The tour works it's way from the top floor and ends back on the ground floor. It starts out with the Mercedes Patent Wagon like the one Diana got to ride on not too long ago and the Grandfather Clock motor that I first saw at the Gottlieb Daimler Memorial. This relatively small room shows the origins for many motorized vehicles that have been developed over the last 100 years or so. It was pretty impressive to see so much history in one small place.
One of the things that I've learned since moving to Germany was that some of the first non-car vehicles to be designed and built were trucks that were used to...guess...we are in Germany after all...yep, they were built to move BEER! Here's John John drinking a "light" beer celebrating one of the first beer trucks:
Mercedes has chosen to lay out the museum mostly by vehicle types with rooms dedicated, for example, to "classsic" cars from over the years (note the silver gull-wing off to the left side of the photo):
...and some heavy vehicles:
The museum is chock full of old cars, new cars, trucks, buses, motors, boats, airplanes, and, well, you get the idea. My favorites included this one-off car transporter that was apparently built to transport race cars to the races. Something like this would have been helpful to own back when I owned my MINI and needed to take it for repairs...
One of the rooms was a "Celebrity Car Room" where they had famous cars from famous people. The highlight, at least for me, was (a copy of?) the original Popemobile:
One of the final rooms that you go through in the museum has this display in it. At first, I didn't realize the scale of what I was seeing and this photo doesn't do it justice. Realize when you look at it that these cars and trucks are real, full-sized vehicles and you can appreciate just how damn big the room is.
If you've read my blog for a while, you'll probably know that I love Formula1. I got to go once a couple of years ago in Barcelona and I still watch it on TV regularly so I was stoked to see Lewis Hamilton's 2008 car. Oh how I'd love to take a spin in something like that...
I once half-jokingly asked my German teacher what Stuttgart's culture was. After all, Munich's got the Octoberfest thing, Barcelona's got Gaudi, Los Angeles has Hollywood. What's Stuttgart got? Surprisingly to me, and without even pausing, she responded Technik ("engineering" in German). If that's the case and technik's what Stuttgart's got, then Mercedes has done a great job showing off the local culture. In this case, without the leather pants.
Oh, and what's better than spending the day checking out a cool, car-related museum? Getting to go to happy hour out front afterwards and drinking locally-made wine with great friends! That's what!!! JJ and Stacey, thanks for the super fun, way-too-short weekend. Let's do it again soon.
A side note to John and Stacey's visit. After visiting with us, they went on to Austria to a friend's wedding. A couple of days later, John asked Stacey to marry him and she said yes. Stacey, having known John for almost 25 years, I know that I've never seen him happier than when he's with you. You guys make a great couple and I wish you the best of luck. Congratulations!!!