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Mercedes-Benz.

Motorbooks International (Motorbooks).

Dennis Adler.
ISBN 978 0 7603 3372 3
Published 2008. (Softback, 254 pages).
Book about Mercedes-Benz motorcars

UK RRP 12.99

Buy this Book:
Having owned a few old Mercedes-Benz cars over the years, of fairly recent manufacture rather than classic, I was interested to come across this book charting the history of the marque. The author Dennis Adler has written a number of books about Mercedes-Benz, and was senior editor of The Star - publication of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America - so knows the subject well.
The 254 pages take the reader through a chronological account of the company's products, chapter by chapter, from the earliest days creating such machines as the Daimler "Riding Car" and the Benz Patent Motorwagen, right through to their cars for the 21st Century which, while outside the remit of this site, serves to bring the story right up-to-date. The bulk of the photographs within this compact publication are in colour, and taken in recent years, although there are some period images to be found dotted within this book's pages.
Chapter one deals with vehicles of the 19th Century, while subsequent chapters concentrate on later cars, split into decades. Key models from each decade are discussed in turn, following on from a general overview of the decade in question. Chapter five for example, 1930 to 1939, looks at the following models: 500K Special Sport Roadster, 540K Chassis, 540K Special Coupe, 540K Special Roadster, 540K Cabriolet A, Sport Cabriolet, Type 320 Streamline Limousine, and the Type 170 H.
It's worth noting that, by and large, only road cars are reviewed, the Grand Prix cars for example - so much a part of bringing the marque to the attention of the general public in the 1930s and into the 1950s - are not given coverage. Nor are the Formula One cars of recent times either, although this is due to the publication year of the book. Sports racing cars do feature here and there but not to any great degree, which is perhaps a surprising omission given that a competition car - the 300SL racing car - features on the cover of this book, although this car does have an entry. However, approach this title as a review of road-going cars that the man or woman in the street could have bought from a local showroom, either from a catalogue or in the case of rarer models to special order, and no-one should be disappointed.
The fact that this is an American book rarely matters as most of the cars are similar to those on sale here as well as in the States. Page 184 makes reference to the introduction of the new E-Class cars for the 1980s, which are generally known as the W124 series cars. Yet on the following page slightly confusingly the author discusses the all-new E-Class of 1993, yet this was still a W124, albeit facelifted slightly with an updated range of engines. While UK buyers knew the 190E as just that, in this book they're referred to as the C-Class, but generally-speaking most of the book will make sense to the UK reader.
The author's enthusiasm for the marque is plain to see, and while cars such as the later W210 series E-Class were no doubt received with rave reviews when they were new, it would have been interesting to see mention of the criticism that cars of this era received due to problems of quality control, rust in particular, which has arguably done Mercedes-Benz's reputation for impeccably-built cars so much disservice throughout the 2000s. To many enthusiasts the W123 and later W124 series Mercedes cars were perhaps the last properly-built, ie built to a standard rather than a price, models that the company has produced, although strenuous efforts have been made in recent times to regain this hard-earned reputation.
Highlights of recent years include the SLR McLaren, evoking memories of distant Mille Miglia success with the 300SLR, various AMG models, and the uber-luxury Maybach range.
While never pretending to be a comprehensive, in-depth, history of the brand, for the price this is a useful overview of Mercedes-Benz, from the pioneering days of the horseless carriage, through to the recent times, and for that reason can be recommended as an introduction to the marque.
RJ
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