The Let's Play Archive

Need for Speed: Most Wanted

by Olive Branch

Part 8: The History of Mercedes-Benz; About the Mercedes-Benz SL 500

The History of Mercedes-Benz

A German automibile maker, Mercedes-Benz is currently a division of Daimler AG, but originally it started in 1886 with Karl Benz's creation of the first petrol-powered car, the downright-odd-looking Benz Patent Motorwagen, known today to be the first automobile. The first Mercedes-Benz brand name vehicles were produced in 1926, following the merger of Karl Benz's and Gottlieb Daimler's companies into the Daimler-Benz company. The Daimler group and Mercedes-Benz have undergone numerous renamings and mergers, making the history of Mercedes-Benz a little muddled.

However, like other German automobile makers, Mercedes-Benz also contributed to the German war effort in WW2, creating aircraft, tank, and submarine engines. Daimler also produced parts for German arms, most notably barrels for the Mauser rifle. Unfortunately for the company's image, they also used slave labor to make their parts. Following the war, Mercedes-Benz turned back to making cars, vans, and trucks. They used a letter notation until 1994 to differentiate their cars, and between 2003 and 2009, Mercedes-Benz paired up with McLaren to produce a limited-edition sports car (which is also in the game). Fun fact: the current Popemobile is a Mercedes-Benz M-class sports utility vehicle.

Regarding motorsports, Mercedes-Benz has had a long and colorful history. Some would say too colorful: the Le Mans disaster of 1955 is still considered to be the most devastation accident in motorsport history, where eighty-three spectators and driver Pierre Levegh were killed and 120 more spectators were injured by debris. Mercedes announced it would not participate in motorsports again at the end of that year, and the self-imposed ban lasted until 1987. Mercedes-Benz currently participates in Formula 1, DTM, and Formula 3.

About the Mercedes-Benz SL 500

The SL 500 is one of Mercedes's SL cars, grand tourers that are designed as lightweight sportscars. Spanning (so far) six generations, the SL series has had a number of overhauls and are available both as convertibles or hard tops. The fifth generation SL was in production between 2002 and 2011, and it's the car that appears in-game. The SL 500 is a hardy beast at 383 hp, as well as coming with a variety of engine types, but they are designed less for racing and more for looking sleek. The latest generation of SL cars is made almost entirely from aluminum, and is fully modernized with a bunch of new stuff without losing any of the engine power from previous cars.

Triple A Says...

A car designed for the young rich kid who wants a bit of panache in his life and the finance capitalist with a midlife crisis. Has a big (by European standards) V8 engine, but it was designed with comfort in mind rather than power. Looking at the figures it makes, it could easily get more out of it (from 383 hp to about 450 hp) but it would be too harsh for the average buyer of the SL 500. Still, users aren't really concerned with power: they want to look good and show off, not race.

The "VIP style" is popular in Japan with Mercedes and other high end cars. The best cars Mercedes has ever made were before the 1990s (early 80s, late 70s, when US cars were universally bad), as they were pretty much unkillable. Think of them (especially the Mercedes W123 chassis) as the Avtomat Kalashnikova of luxury Mercedes cars, as some people still keep them working in darkest Africa. The OM617 and OM616 engines alone could last a few million miles. That is because pretty much everything in that era of Mercedes-Benz was ridiculously overengineered in the best possible manner, that being a shitload of high-quality steel and everything done in a simple sensible manner.