by Philipp Deppe | 8.August 2011
The representative vehicle boasts a distinguished appearance befitting its status. For an imposing car that makes a big impression does not merely serve as an end in itself as it transports passengers.
Through its very presence it has the effect of reinforcing impressive appearances – whilst it is true to say that appraisals will inevitably vary, depending on the particular epoch in question and the cars used in each case. They are always also a reflection of their time, and a representative car does not just impress with its stature and style; it often documents technical progress, too, and is admired for its outstanding comfort.
The tradition of representative vehicles from the Mercedes-Benz brand and the predecessor companies Benz & Cie. and Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) is a story characterised by various interruptions. Having said that, up until 1981, the year in which production of the Mercedes-Benz 600 finished, it was absolutely indisputable that the brand had to be present in the exclusive vehicle category. Around another two decades would pass before the then DaimlerChrysler AG once again established itself in the high-end segment: with the Maybach brand in 2002.
The era of representative vehicles began at the beginning of the 20th century, some twenty years after the invention of the automobile. It was initiated by the same circle from the wealthy bourgeoisie that made a name for itself as sponsors of motor racing. The businessman Emil Jellinek, for instance, was one of the friends and promoters of the car who repeatedly made significant contributions to the vehicles’ advancement by providing some valuable food for thought in the early days. One of the results of this work was Jellinek’s 1907 touring car, which can now be admired in the Mercedes-Benz Museum, and which already embodied some of the fundamental characteristics of a representative vehicle. When he had a touring car built, Jellinek, who was always wont to think a little further ahead than many of his contemporaries, did not opt for one of the widespread tourer or phaeton carriages. Instead he chose a comfortable, imposing saloon, which – with an engine output of 60 hp (44 kW) – was in the upper echelons of the model hierarchy of the day. In contrast to many of his peers, Jellinek even thought of the driver, who was also protected from the elements by a fixed roof, doors and windows.
It should be pointed out here that back in those days the open carriage was the usual body form and the closed vehicle the special, exclusive variant, and in many cases this applied up until the end of the 1930s – for representative cars, too.
The nobility, predominantly lovers of horses and coaches, only discovered the car for representative purposes after the moneyed bourgeoisie. Tsar Nicholas, for example, is reported to have been a riding enthusiast who valued old customs – but not the car, at least not to start with. The German Emperor Wilhelm II is said to have had a similar attitude. Nevertheless the automobile gradually found its way into the aristocracy’s stables and slowly but surely turned them into car parks.
Source: Daimler AG