Mercedes clearly has a psychic wunderkind stationed deep within its Stuttgart walls, because it doesn’t build cars, it builds the future.
You’ll know this because every single Mercedes S-Class previews technology you’ll soon be able to find in your toaster, circa 2025. Want your bread to pop out brown and with three-way adjustable vibrating crusts to care for your fingertips while you eat? Look at tomorrow’s S-Class.
But what’s interesting is not where Mercedes is going, but where it has been. Because we found a picture of the original luxury, high-end Mercedes that spawned the S-Class family way back at the turn of the century - and frankly, you’d never be able to tell the relation.
It’s that big red fun bus in the picture above. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Mercedes Simplex 60PS, and it launched in 1903. It was a touring ‘sedan’, apparently, and was owned by Emil Jellinek. Jellinek, don’t forget, was a key player in Merc’s history - it’s his daughter who gave her name to the brand.
It entered the European stage to great acclaim, and even proved itself on the racetrack. Take for example, the 1903 ‘Gordon Bennett’ cup in Ireland; English and American competitors had apparently spent weeks practising on the track and knew every nuance. Mercedes simply hopped into the Simplex, drove from the factory in Germany to Paris, crossed the channel, drove up through Wales to the Irish Sea and then competed.
The press at the time noted how Mercedes “beat everything that could be described as the quintessence of international automotive engineering”.
Mercedes tells us that since the launch of the 220 in 1951, it has shifted around four million S-Class cars. But as evidenced by FunBus above, its history stretches back even further…