I can’t believe I haven’t been to Mercedes Benz world before now. You’d think that having lived just eight miles from it for the past year I’d have found the time.
Still, after listening to numerous recommendations of how good it was to kill a few hours, I saddled up the Focus this weekend and went.
And blimey, it was good.
Nestled right at the heart of the Brooklands circuit, the modern architecture of the Mercedes building really stands out. Plus, of course, that tri-star immediately helps to identify who owns the building. Since Brooklands is now a registered heritage site Mercedes isn’t allowed to build any more on top of the original circuit, so visitors to the ‘overflow’ car park are directed to park up on the famous circuit itself.
Even on this wet and windy April afternoon the building was busy, and it’s easy to see why. As well as doubling up as a servicing and sales centre for Mercedes Benz and Smart, MB World also houses one of the most impressive collections of cars I’ve come across. It’s a museum of automotive creation, and, if you fork out £2.50 for the guided tour, a source of some of the best automotive pub facts ever.
Try these on for size as an example:
- The first Mercedes “silver arrows” weren’t designed to look that way. The original paintwork was removed to save weight before a race. The Mercedes team had arrived to find their cars just over the 750kg weight limit, so something had to go. The public so enjoyed the spectacle of the race, which Mercedes won, that the team decided to enter all its cars that way in future.
- There’s a working example of the Benz Motorwagen at the site, which is occasionally taken out for a run. However, because the engine is so simple it can’t handle the complicated additives in modern petrol. Some time ago the museum switched to running it on floor polish.
- The modern Mercedes SLS racing car had to be fitted with explosive door bolts, because drivers could literally be trapped inside the car if it rolled over due to its gullwing door design.
That’s just the start, because as you can see from the gallery below Mercedes Benz World is so much more than a museum.
I can now join the countless others who have been and recommended it as a fun family day out. Though, a word of warning, if you plan on spending any time at all in the gift shop bring your most flexible credit card.
It’s also interesting to note that, aside from Mercedes Benz, I can’t think of another car manufacturer which has a similar site in the UK. Sure there are brilliant collections of cars such as the ones at the Coventry Transport Museum or the Beaulieu National Motor Museum, but are there any similar sites which are manufacturer owned? Let me know in the comments below if you can think of any.
You can find out more about Mercedes Benz World by visiting its website, here.