The history of modern mobility begins in Mannheim – with the invention of the car by Carl Benz. The museum revealing this history is located in Ladenburg – set in scene by Winfried A. Seidel who turned Carl Benz’s former factory halls into a monument of automotive culture. Smell of oil inclusive.
This is where he worked – the presumably most influential start-up entrepreneur of the modern era. In an old clinker brick building in Ladenburg, just a few minutes drive from Mannheim, where, on 29 January 1886, he made his historical invention setting the world in motion: the motor-car.
Test drives frequently led Carl Benz along the Neckar to Ladenburg. Here, he opened his own automobile manufacturing company together with his son Eugen in 1906. Round about 100 years later, the vintage car collector Winfried A. Seidel opened an impressive museum in the old halls of the manufactory – drawing more than 20,000 visitors each year to its premises.
In the midst of the renovated halls, there is a little room preserved in its original condition. Just a workshop. But it still looks exactly like in Benz’s time. The plaster on the wall of the little room is dirty, the work bench full of tools. And it smells just as it did in the old times – of motor oil. When Winfried A. Seidel bought the historical halls from Carl Benz’s descendants he was pleased to find the place untouched by time. The patina of sweat and hard work was still sticking on the walls.
That this authentic atmosphere has been preserved is due to the automobile expert’s special care. He had to renovate a lot in order to turn the factory halls into a documentation centre for his unique vintage car collection – without stripping the place bare of its history. On the contrary: Seidel’s private museum is an emotional hoard of preservation. Car enthusiasts from all over the world come here each year and discover “what others often wanted to get rid of” – as the museum’s owner, who restored many of the exhibits himself, puts it. Legendary vintage car originals are to be discovered here featuring brightly polished bonnets, chrome-plated details, plus the stories that come along with them.
About 120 vehicles reveal some kind of cultural history of mobility accompanied by a fascinating presentation of the historical background information.
The collector gathered wonderful pieces ranging from the mobile sawing machine to the racy sprint and touring car: The legendary “Benz Patent-Motorwagen” found its place here – as a loan from the Daimler Benz Museum in Stuttgart – as well as a shiny Formula One racing car of the multiple world champion Michael Schumacher or remote-controlled model cars on a scale of 1:5 like the “Lanz Bolldog” from 1929 – along with Karl Drais’s bicycle and Julius Hatry’s rocket airplane another path breaking invention “made in Mannheim”.
It is thus not surprising that next to all these automobiles there is also an impressive collection of memorabilia on display – ranging from spark plugs to stop watches – the latter so to speak as a symbol of the aspect of time, which radically changed with the invention of the motor-car. For up until today, it is after all the car which shortens our ways and makes great distances appear easy to overcome. By contrast, the former reception room of the company called “C. Benz Söhne” with its red silk wall covering looks as if belonging to an altogether different era.