Out looking at Porsche cars for sale with a mate last Sunday, we found ourselves close to Mercedes-Benz World in Weybridge, Surrey and decided to drop in for a coffee. The coffee shop is great and worth a visit on its own.
I used to work around the corner from Mercedes World and the huge facility alongside Brooklands was usually deserted: I could never understand how it paid for itself. On this particular Sunday, the place was absolutely packed. With the queue for coffee more than twenty people deep, we opted for a quick scoot around the exhibits before getting back on the road.
MB world used to house many classic models in its beautiful interior, but there are fewer classics now and plenty of new cars. We had a good look at the SLs on show – of course I thought my SL was nicer than their R129 – and then whipped through the technology part on the top floor. Inside was the 1996 Mercedes F200 concept from 1996 (above). This spellbinding car with double-joystick technology and cutting edge ideas for the time is still a handsome machine: recognisably Mercedes.
Porsche Prototype Exhibition
Seeing the cool Mercedes concept reminded me of an exhibition currently running at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. Featuring a number of Porsche development mules and work-in-progress prototypes, the “Project: Top Secret” show running until January 11, 2015 opens a door into the workings of Porsche engineering development.
Sixteen Porsche cars form the core of the exhibition, including concept cars, camouflaged test beds and one-off experimental vehicles. Notably, these are development survivors, as most test cars and working prototypes get scrapped when their work is complete: common practice amongst manufacturers.
Cars I would most like to explore in detail include the 964 Targa, chopped up to disguise the mid-engined chassis layout of the original development Boxster, and the 984 Roadster development car. The display also includes a rear-engined Porsche 965 project, and the four-door 989 family sports car, which set the design tone for later models. The 918 rolling chassis seen in many Youtube videos is also on show.
The Porsche Museum is open from 9am-6pm Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is €8 for adults. More information at www.porsche.de/museum.