San Francisco Bay Area Section

Mr. Perfection

Mr. Perfection

Mr. Perfection Rudolph UhlenhautFor those of us who motor behind the Three-Pointed Star, the history of Mercedes-Benz automobiles is one of excellence in mechanical engineering. The names of famous engineers such as Daimler (founder and son), Benz, Niebel, Maybach and the legendary Ferdinand Porsche dominate. However, the evolution of the Mercedes-Benz passenger car to its ultimate automotive superiority is also due to the work of a man who was not an engineer but a designer Rudolph Uhlenhaut.Rudy worked at Daimler-Benz from the 1930's until the early 1970's, and his chief claim to fame was the development of the world-winning 300SL racing cars and the sporting coupes and roadsters that followed. In order to understand the needs and possibilities in passenger car development, he learned to drive on the racetrack as well or better than any professional racer. He also learned enough about engineering to be able to direct the work of the factory technical staff on new models. Rudy appreciated the importance of exploring new capability in racing, but always translated these lessons to the design of passenger sedans and coupes.Perhaps the most telling example of his demand for overall excellence for the Mercedes-Benz owner is his famous "butter test." He insisted on testing every new model away from the track, spending a day driving through the mountains and around the area just as an owner might. At the start of each test day, he placed a pound of butter in the trunk. If, at day's end, the butter had not melted, he was satisfied that attention had been paid to even minor details like insulation. (Incidentally, he was so engrossed in constantly testing MBZ prototypes and current models, he never actually owned a car of his own.)This concern for the typical Mercedes-Benz owner's enjoyable driving experience is key, and is symbolized by the MBZ motto "The Best Or Nothing."

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