In the well-oiled, petrol-powered pantheon of reliable cars, no four wheels sit higher than those of the Mercedes-Benz W115. Renowned for its trustworthiness, the first of these German machines rolled off the production line in 1968 — destined to rack up mile-upon-mile during their lifetimes.
In fact, in 2004, a Greek taxi driver donated his W115 to the Mercedes-Benz Museum Collection with almost three million miles on the clock — the most ever recorded on a Mercedes-Benz. So we can see why accomplished car concepter David Obendorfer decided to honour this iconic model with his latest design.
The Mercedes-Benz Icon E is Obendorfer’s modern take on this legendary car. Elegant, understated and timeless in its design, the characteristic front end with those vertical headlights mirrors that of the 1960s vehicle — and it was this feature that the designer used as his starting point.
“The Icon E Concept is also based on the mechanical underpinnings of the tenth-generation E-Class,” Oberndorfer explains. “My aim was to revive the seemingly contradictory concept of ‘modest luxury’, free of ostentation, through a genius comfortable car characterised by clean volumes, balanced proportions and carefully handled surfaces.”
Obendorfer also reveals that his project is a tribute to two very significant chief designers of Mercedes history. Paul Bracq headed up Daimler-Benz’s design studio in Sindelfingen for ten years and styled — among many others — the W115. And Bruno Sacco, Obendorfer’s second styling influence, served as the head of design between 1975 and 1999.
Inside the concept of this executive sedan, there are yet more nods to the W115. It may be a minimalist space, with few decorative elements, but the steering wheel is a direct reference to classic 60s Mercedes-Benz design. Like older models, the thin metal insert introduces a vintage flavour — and is both at odds with, and complementary of the sleek digital display.
We can’t get enough of Obendorfer’s rendering — and hope Mercedes-Benz take note. For these little heritage twists on modern designs are honest, celebratory callbacks — and a well-earned nod to the famous three-million mile motor.
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