Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Mercedes-Benz Museum

My friend and her husband are really into cars. I didn't know this about them until we started driving down the Autobahn and both of them were nearly salivating over all the Mercedes, Porsches, BMWs and assorted European sportscars whizzing past us. So we decided to go to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. The Porsche Museum is right next to it, but we only had time for one.

I'm not a car person, but I'm game for anything. This wasn't something I would have ever done on my own, so embraced the new experience and "went along for the ride." 

The museum itself is a very precise-looking chrome building. When you enter, you're given an audio guide and take the elevator up to the 7th floor. That starts the journey of the German automotive industry -- which seemed very similar to the alleged American automotive industry journey, or so I thought. We learned right away that Benz and Daimler designed the first automobile. I went along with it and then thought - wait a minute. Doesn't Henry Ford make the same claim? So I asked the experts: my two friends. They conceded that Daimler was the first, but we had a nice long discussion on how interesting it was that three different men were working on the same idea at the same time in history.

We moved along, winding down the spiral floors as we traveled in time through Mercedes-Benz history. We looked at cars from the 1930's, then '40's, etc. etc., hitting a different era on each floor. My friends were in heaven. They picked out which cars they wanted and took picture after picture of themselves with their dream cars. The cars meant nothing to me, but I enjoyed watching them ogle the machinery.

That's what they are to me: machines. I can barely tell one car from another and often don't remember the make and model of my own car until I take a moment to think about it. So the cars meant nothing to me. There was no personal connection. UNTIL... we saw Princess Diana's Mercedes. She was criticized for having too fine a car and so got rid of it. Her Mercedes now sat next to the Popemobile in the museum. I found myself inches away from Princess Diana's Mercedes! She'd sat in it, lifted the handle, adjusted the mirrors. She'd touched it! NOW I was interested.

We continued our journey, finishing our journey near the race cars that bear the Mercedes-Benz name. My friends continued taking pictures and dreaming of the cars they'd collect if they ever won the lottery. As we left, they wanted to make sure that I'd had a good time and hadn't been too bored. Bored? No way! I saw Princess Di's car!

This Mercedes-Benz belonged to Princess Diana.


  1. Yeah, I'm not really a car person either, although from an aesthetic standpoint, I definitely have opinions.

    But as your post illustrates, the objects are less important (to most of us) then the stories attached to them. Or rather, the objects become important because they are vehicles (pun sort of intended) for stories.

    That's one of the reasons that a writing mentor I once had told us that the 3 keys to a good story are conflict, a ticking clock, and an object that the reader can follow throughout the story.

  2. The Benz museum is gorgeous! I always wanted to take my family there. I envy you guys for visiting the place. Hmm... it's so amazing to know that you can veiw Princess Diana's car in there.

  3. Thanks, Patrick! I hope you get to see it for yourself someday.