Mercedes-Benz car museum opens in Stuttgart
19 May 2006, STUTTGART - The Mercedes-Benz Museum, a collection of 160 historic cars in a spiral-shaped building designed by Dutch architect Ben van Berkel, was inaugurated Friday in the German city of Stuttgart.
19 May 2006
STUTTGART - The Mercedes-Benz Museum, a collection of 160 historic cars in a spiral-shaped building designed by Dutch architect Ben van Berkel, was inaugurated Friday in the German city of Stuttgart.
DaimlerChrysler said the showcase, set to attract 1 million visitors annually, was the world's biggest automotive museum.
The German-American auto group's chief executive, Dieter Zetsche, defended the 150-million-euro (190-million-dollar) cost, saying it was an investment adding value to the Mercedes brand and underwriting the prestige of German-made cars.
"It is dedicated to a technological quantum leap that changed the world like nothing else since the wheel itself," he said Friday.
The 16,500-square-metre museum, directly outside the group's main factory, displays a replica of the world's first car, designed by Carl Benz, as well as buses, trucks and a current Formula One racing car. It was to open to the public for the first time Saturday.
Visitors are taken up 42 metres by lift to begin their tour at the top of the extraordinarily shaped museum, descending ramps in the form of a double helix, a shape inspired by on the DNA molecule.
Van Berkel's design replaces a smaller Mercedes-Benz car museum dating back to 1923 that had no room for the group's trucks and buses as the collection grew.
Many of the 80 classic cars, 40 commercial vehicles and 40 racing and record-setting cars from the company's 120-year history are reverentially displayed on plinths and are polished every day like jewels so that they sparkle under the spotlights.
Analysts say the museum may help restore some of Mercedes-Benz's pride after the ignominy of recent recalls to fix electronics bugs in its luxury cars. The marque has been overtaken in global annual sales of premium cars by its German arch-rival BMW.
The city is set to acquire a new Porsche Museum within a year, making Stuttgart a magnet for fans of automotive of history.
Entrance costs 8 euros, with children up to 14 allowed in free.
Visitors to the Mercedes-Benz Museum can proceed straight afterwards to a showroom of new cars and a service centre.
Subject: German news