by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

More than 200,000 visitors to “Mercedes-Benz & Friends” in Berlin, Tempelhof

Over 200,000 visitors celebrated the automobile’s 125th birthday at the former Tempelhof airport under the slogan “Mercedes-Benz & Friends”. Mercedes-Benz and the official fan clubs invited friends, interested people and automobile enthusiasts to the big party. “We are happy that this one-off event has been such a resounding success, generating huge interest among collectors, fan clubs and above all the residents of Berlin and our international guests who spent two days celebrating with us” said Anders-Sundt Jensen, responsible for brand communications at Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Exhibitions and driving tracks

Visitors had the opportunity to admire around 2000 classic and current vehicles as they wandered around the 250,000 m3 plot, which until 2008 had been dedicated to aviation. The driving track enabled them to experience being a passenger in the smart ed, Unimog, G-Class, S-Class, CLS-Class and E-Class with a variety of assistant systems or even Mercedes-Benz trucks. A total of around 3500 kilometres were driven around the tracks and on test drives in the course of the two events. There were many smiles on the faces of those who were able to take to the track in a DTM racing taxi, an SLR or one of the AMG Performance vehicles – chauffeured by current drivers in the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) series such as Bruno Spengler, currently top in his class, or his colleagues Gary Paffett, Jamie Green, Ralf Schumacher, Maro Engel or Renger van der Zande. Other guests included Jutta Benz, the great-granddaughter of Carl Benz, and Baroness Ewy Rosqvist-von Korff, who in 1962 became the first woman to win the demanding long-distance race “Gran Premio Internacional Standard Supermovil YPF” in Argentina driving a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE.
Somewhat calmer but no less interesting were the test drives on the roads of Berlin with the current range of vehicles, as well as battery or fuel-cell powered vehicles.

One particular highlight that really drew the crowds were the driving demonstrations of the five historical Silver Arrows from the 1930s and 1950s. These were driven by racing legends Hans Hermann (W 196 Streamline), Dieter Glemser (W 196), Roland Asch (W 165) Jochen Maas (W 125) and Klaus Ludwig (W 25). Bernd Schneider, five-time DTM champion, was also there in Mika Häkkinen’s world championship winning McLaren-Mercedes MP4-13 from 1998. Due to huge interest, the drivers made another appearance on the Sunday afternoon in addition to the three that had originally been scheduled.

Visitors and exhibitors came from all over the world

Passionate Mercedes-Benz owners from all over the world made the journey to Berlin in order to be at the largest Mercedes-Benz convention ever. One collector from Tehran in Iran drove for three weeks in his 1968 Mercedes-Benz 280 S in order to meet like-minded people. Owners of rare and beautiful models also came with their vehicles to Tempelhof from a number of European countries.

The festival was complemented by a varied stage programme including live bands, DJs, discussions on the subject of 125 years of innovation and competitions. The children were strangers to boredom. Apart from the many cars on show, there were also climbing walls, bouncy castles and a game aimed at educating them on road traffic safety with Moki, the Mobile Kids mascot.

The invention of the automobile

On 29 January 1886, when Carl Benz registered his “automobile fuelled by gas” under patent number 37435, nobody could guess how the modern automobile would flourish over the next 125 years. Less than 100 kilometres away, the Swabian tinkerer and entrepreneur was successfully working almost simultaneously on his motorised carriage, which he completed within the same year. Neither of them knew the defining achievement they had made, as commercial success would not come until some years later.

Source: Daimler AG

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