Times of Change
Most enthusiasts will be drawn to the exhibit “Times of Change”, covering the years 1914-1945.
The difficult economic environment brought on in the aftermath of WWI left German automakers staggering. A 1923 agreement of cooperation between Daimler and Benz became a full merger between the two oldest automakers in the world in 1926.
Another significant development was the arrival of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche from Austro-Daimler in 1923. Porsche became Technical Director for the parent company where he oversaw the development of twelve new models in a five-year period.
Porsche’s influence was not a mere footnote in Mercedes-Benz history. The new models developed under Porsche’s supervision are among some of the most influential in the company’s history.
The first new model was the supercharged Model K, based on an earlier Mercedes design created by Paul Daimler. The Model K was billed as the fastest production automobile in the world.
The next new model was the mighty Model S, the automobile that would define Mercedes-Benz as a great manufacturer of sports cars.
The Model S, with a 6.8-liter (414 cu. in.) straight-6 engine, produced 120 horsepower—that increased immediately to 180 hp when the supercharger was engaged by pressing the accelerator. A production Model S won the first German Grand Prix on the new Nürburgring circuit in 1927.
Porsche left Mercedes-Benz in 1928. Development of the Model S continued with the team of Hans Nibel, who became Technical Director after Porsche’s departure, to the SS, SSK and SSKL that all rank among the most dominant and beautiful sports cars of all time.
Nibel’s team also developed a new supercharged 3.8-liter straight-8 engine, an engine that would power the Type 380, the car that would become the predecessor to the legendary 500 K and 540 K. Examples of these extraordinary automobiles are exhibited at the Mercedes-Benz Museum, and were featured in a 2010 special exhibit within the museum titled “Mercedes-Benz Super Sports Cars”.