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Mercedes-Benz 300 Messwagen - 1960: The Rolling Laboratory

After the post-war crisis, Mercedes quickly became one of the main beneficiaries of the Wirtschaftswunder, Germany's economic boom in the 1950s. Only a few years after demolishing factories and solving the problem of Obtaining basic raw materials, the famous Stuttgart manufacturer again built representative limousines like the 300 Adenauer, the carefree 190 SL roadster and the 300SL supersport.

So, in 1960, Mercedes-Benz designed and built a one-of-a-kind mobile test lab called the Messwagen, a German term loosely translated as "measurement car." The development of such special solutions required special tools. Those familiar with the dimensions of the later Polish Odra computer know what challenges such a mission involved. The equipment at that time took up too much space and was too heavy to just throw in a regular passenger car. It took something else ... much crazier.

The Messwagen was essentially a Mercedes 300 W189 (built between 1957 and 1962, the model included a VHF frequency mobile phone, voice recorder, and a window separating the driver from the people in the back) which was converted from a sedan to a station wagon in order to transport bulky equipment that recorded information such as the power generated by an engine, the amount of fuel it used and the heat it made. The backseat was thrown away to make room for equipment, but Mercedes installed a pair of wicker chairs so engineers could monitor the testing process in real time. To connect this equipment to the car under test at a time when not only health and safety, but also Wi-Fi or Bluetooth have not yet been heard. There was only one solution. As frantic as you might expect from this era, a mast was mounted on the roof of Messwagen, from which emerged a harness of cables connected to the car under test. They sent data from sensors that recorded parameters in as many as 14 different categories.

Such a combined Mercedes tandem, as the company's engineers at the time called it "the umbilical cord", could travel along the Untertürkheim research track at a speed of up to 120 km / h. Memories of those taking part in these tests have not survived to this day, but you can imagine what emotions accompanied driving at highway speed from a secret prototype that is hooked up to a large station wagon chasing it, loaded. several hundred kilograms of equipment like in a science fiction movie.

Under the hood, no Diesel but a 3.0-liter twin-carburetor inline-six petrol engine producing 118 kW, that was the minimum kilowatts required to move the weight of the equipment.

Although this is a unique solution to a delicate data collection problem, Mercedes-Benz has only built a single copy of the Messwagen.

To accommodate the gigantic equipment required at the time, the body lost the second pair of doors, but it was extended and finished with glass that was very fashionable at the time at a negative angle. The whole thing could easily aspire to a production car, albeit a futuristic one, taking into account those that straddle the plexiglass side windows. The expanded space supported by a solid cross frame easily accommodated a dozen recording, search and sensor devices and two additional seats that Mercedes engineers sat on (back to each other, with no backrests or seat belts). safety - you can see the company cared more about the lives of customers), the seat benches, and instead left a hilarious, mismatched wicker chair for the flight crew.

As is often the case with Mercedes, the Germans were aware of the historical significance of this particular model. Therefore, they have preserved and still maintain it in perfect condition, thanks to which it regularly appears at the exhibition of the brand's factory museum. To this day, it remains a living testament not only to Mercedes' uncompromising approach to creating new models, but also of the unimaginable challenges that had to be overcome 60 years ago.

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