Mercedes Vision Simplex


In spring 1901, the history of mobility changed radically. At Race Week in Nice, a car the like of which the world had never seen, appeared on the starting line: a high-performance car which Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft had developed at the suggestion of the visionary Emil Jellinek. The standard design for vehicles were based on motorized carriages.

The Mercedes 35 PS (named after Jellinek’s daughter ‘Mercedes’), introduced a completely new vehicle architecture and dominated the competitions in Race Week, which took place on the famous racetrack from Nice to La Turbie (the heart of the current Mercedes-Benz International Design Center Europe).

The revolutionary Mercedes 35 PS is acknowledged as the first modern car, and it heralded in a new era in vehicle construction — a transition from a high, motorized carriage, to a flatter design paired with a light, high-performance engine and featuring a honeycomb radiator in the front. This groundbreaking vehicle design was to become the basis for all car design from then on.

The ‘Vision Mercedes Simplex’ honors this historic moment and reflects the pioneering spirit and the styling characteristics of those days far into the 21st century. This design exploration is intended to signify the passion for luxury and innovation that is part of the Mercedes-Benz brand’s DNA — to set new standards in mobility and drive forward the transformation of the car.

Only a brand that is as strong as Mercedes-Benz is capable of the physical symbiosis of history and future. The ‘Vision Mercedes Simplex’ symbolizes the transformation of the brand-specific luxury of Mercedes-Benz”, says Chief Design Officer Gorden Wagener.


The ‘Vision Mercedes Simplex’ reinterprets the historic Simplex as a two-seater with freestanding wheels, an alternative drive, exciting User Interface and a thrilling design. Its vehicle body features a dominant horizontal alignment sits as a monocoque amid the four large wheels, which form the outer points of the vehicle. The striking vertical color separation — a white front section and a black rear section — honors the original vehicle’s color scheme. The transparent trims on the wheels and aerodynamic surface areas reflect lightness and efficiency. The entire sculpture represents the interplay between clearly and powerfully drawn surfaces, and precise technical details.


The radiator grille, set within a rose gold frame, is based on the original bronze radiator grille and frames a large lens-shaped black panel/3D display. “Mercedes” lettering and animations can be digitally superimposed on it, providing vehicle status information. This cool detail is symbolic of the transformation of Mercedes-Benz into the digital world.

The decentralized wheel location components unite aesthetics and engineering artistry in a unique way. The omission of a windscreen — just like the original — reinforces the uncompromisingly sporty character and allows a seamless transition from the front-end flap to the instrument panel. The slim reversing lamps — horizontally integrated into the rear section — separate the upper section from the lower section of the protective, cocoon-like exterior shell. The tail-end of the vehicle body is trimmed with a hand-crafted leather bag, also inspired by the original.


The entire interior reflects the successful history of Mercedes-Benz and the DNA of the Simplex racing car and the seamless transition between the exterior, interior and User Experience reflects the holistic approach of the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy. This is particularly evident in the flowing, flute-like transition between the hood and instrument panel with its minimized interface, featuring projections.

The design of the steering column and the switches on the instrument panel were inspired by motorcycle and nautical design. Luxury is evident in the numerous, jewel-like details with their high-quality finish, for example the clock in the instrument panel, the precision screws and the belt design. The color scheme features strong contrasts — the black and white between the front and rear section — and the azure blue upholstery.

The high-quality openers for the stowage compartments are inspired by the fashion world and the bench seat takes its cues from stylish furniture — the hand-made Chesterfield quilting is a contemporary interpretation of classically luxurious hand-craftsmanship. The color-and-trim concept, including the azure blue upholstery cover, is inspired by the colors of the Côte d’Azur.


The UI/UX design demonstrates a Mercedes-Benz vision of digital luxury. The driver is only shown relevant information on the digital, rose-gold-colored instrument panel. This combination of mechanical beauty and intelligent digital content is described by the Mercedes-Benz designers as “hyper analogue”. The right information is shown on the display at the right time, e.g. the speed, navigation instructions or vehicle information.

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