Within the confines of what remains of the Brooklands circuit in Surrey lies Mercedes-Benz World, a complex that manages to be a museum, car showroom and driver training track all in one, all owned and operated by Mercedes-Benz. For a photographer, this means that there’s historic old cars, shiny new cars and action all in the same day.
At the start of March my father-in-law, who is doing a photography course, asked me down there with a friend of ours to have a look around and get some interesting photos.
Right by the entrance was this vehicle. Annoyingly I didn’t think to take quick snaps of the signs telling me what everything was. Fortunately Google is here to help. That was the front of a CLK GTR Roadster, one of only a handful ever built. This is the side.
Given all of the interesting reflections on the car, and the window in the background, I decided to shoot a HDR version of this shot.
Further inside in the main foyer – pictured at the top of this post – was this wonderfully livered Gumball 3000 car.
Deeper into the foyer was the first of many AMG Mercedes on display, and one in the Mercedes red that I really fell in love with on this visit.
I quickly developed a fascination for the chrome of the iconic Mercedes logo.
There were cars of all ages at the museum. Just behind the 1980s (maybe) AMG there was a 1930s (possibly) Merc.
I tried to take a shot of the hood emblem but didn’t realise that my aperture was too big to get both the logo on the front and the emblem on the top in focus. I still quite like the result, even if it isn’t quite what I intended.
I also took a wide shot of the car but the wide angle lens I’ve borrowed distorts a little at wider angles.
Right next to this car was an even older one, one that predates the Mercedes name itself: what looked like the world first motorcar, the Benz Patent Motorwagen – or perhaps a replica of it. What appealed to me about it was its exposed cog work.
I turned back to the other car, and hit upon something that I would continue to shoot throughout the trip: shots of wheels. This time I shot the spare wheel; in hindsight I should’ve shot one of the wheels touching the ground.
Surrounding these two cars was a history of Mercedes in models. And they were pretty sweet models.
Nice looking car, isn’t it? We’ll see the full size version a little later on.
We circled upstairs and found ourselves in an area for selling new cars. Here I continued my new theme of photographing wheels, this time a far more modern one.
We were soon back amongst older cars, where my wheel shooting continued.
Just along from this vehicle was another older machine, so of course I processed the images in monochrome.
There was probably an order to Mercedes-Benz World but we were really just wandering around aimlessly seeing what we could find. There were several sections as I recall, but I can’t remember what any of them were, with the exception of the AMG area.
This 300 SL may look pretty mundane, outside of its stunning classic look, but that bonnet is up for a reason.
The original engine has been replaced by a 6.3-litre AMG engine. It’s a shame it’s covered but I like the shot regardless.
One of the problems I encountered in the AMG area was the lights. There were a lot of coloured lights turning on and off and the predominantly white or traditional Mercedes silver cars showed every tint. Fortunately a lot of the time I was able to remove it.
This image had a bit of a green tint to it thanks to the lights. I was able to remove it, and at the same time deepened the hue of the indicator light to make it a bit more orange and stand out more.
Where I had the patience I also sometimes waited until the lights turned back to more neutral colours, like when I shot the bum of a more modern Merc.
And other times I just had to go with the lighting.
I closed out the AMG section with some closeups of the AMG marque on a wheel and a brake calliper.
We wandered from the AMG area into what must have been the Formula 1 section. It was the large deconstructed F1 car that gave it away.
This was described as an art piece rather than an authentic representation of a modern Formula 1 car (probably because they didn’t want any competitors having a crafty look, although this year’s big rule change probably negates that) but it is truly fascinating to see all of the inner workings of these machines.
The rest of the F1 cars there were at least fully assembled.
The assembled car gave me yet another opportunity to get a photograph of a wheel.
My favourite part of this shot is that, despite being quite obviously a slick racing wheel, the tyre still needs “not for highway use” written on the side.
The Formula 1 section of Mercedes-Benz World was given over not just for the famous Silver Arrows racing team, but for some of the other teams using a Mercedes engine, like Force India with their gorgeous orange and green livery.
Seeing the Force India car reminded me of the time my friend Catherine had the opportunity to photograph one near her hometown. She’d managed to get a bunch of interesting images of the car and it was that I was trying to recall as I explored the angles myself, not just on the Force India car but the McLaren that was parked behind it.
Alongside these F1 cars was an example of the engine that brought connected them, hanging from the ceiling and looking fantastic in clean chrome.
After pausing to pop outside to watch a display of drifting and car control (the images of which will be along shortly in a separate post), we moved on to the last area, which contained a bunch of mid-20th century cars alongside lots of great photography. There’s no images of the latter, obviously, but the cars were great.
And of course, more opportunities for my newly patented wheel shots.
With this car I had another go at shooting the hood emblem. This time it worked a lot better.
There was a lovely beige car with a soft top that right long side it.
It had wheels too.
At some point whilst walking about Mercedes-Benz World I noticed that effort had been made to get every wheel arranged such that the Mercedes logo was the right way up just about every time. That’s pretty good attention to detail.
In the corner of the display area was a 2007 McLaren-Mercedes F1 car which we could walk all around and have a good look at. The images of that will also be along in a separate post.
Our last stop on our visit was to the sales area. Here, what caught my eye was the lovely blue paintwork of this new Merc, which I prefer even more than that lovely red.
With every corner seemingly explored, we returned home, and I left the brochure for the drifting and track experiences where my wife could see them, casually mentioning that it’s my birthday in November.