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You have to see Mercedes-Benz’ sculpture of an old car built for today

“Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz”

This probably wasn’t the kind of Mercedes-Benz Janis Joplin had in mind when she wrote and recorded that song. For one thing, it looks like a fancy soapbox derby car.

For another, it doesn’t run. We’ll tell you more about Mercedes-Benz’s “Vision Mercedes Simplex,” a sculpture that pays tribute to the car company’s past even as it looks to the future.

When Mercedes-Benz shook up the auto industry

In 1901 during Race Week in Nice, France, the Mercedes 35 PS, heralded a new era in car design that would be the basis for all vehicles to come. The was no Model T.

The history of the 35 PS is easy to see in how the auto’s frame was sculpted. But take a look at the front grille.

On the grille, there is a  large lens-shaped black panel/3D display. Here, the famous “Mercedes” lettering is digitally superimposed and there are animations that provide information on the vehicle’s status. This is the sharpest juxtaposition between the Mercedes-Benz of the past and its future.

This is not a concept model. Take a good look; it has no windshield or headlights.


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A peek inside the Simplex

The sculptures went out of their way to make sure the interior looks very much like that of the original Simplex. You can see the bench-like seat for two (there are safety belts, however), the exposed steering column, the two-tone colors used in the past and a bucket-shaped rear end.

Now look closely at the panel in front of the steering wheel. It just looks like a clock rimmed in rose-gold. Mercedes-Benz designers like to call this “hyper analog,” because only the right information is shown on the display at the right time, such as speed, navigation instructions or vehicle information.


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Those bright dots you see are a star pattern fused with the material of the instrument panel, creating a large surface on which information can be projected for a certain amount of time. The point is not to inundate drivers with a control panel that looks like a plane’s cockpit.

This Simplex gives drivers the information they need when they need it. If Mercedes were to go back to the future, this sculpture indicates that it might bring back a more simple look — at least on the control panel. In the meantime, don’t forget Mercedes-Benz loves its technology.

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