WORDS: DAVID LILLYWHITE | PHOTOGRAPHY: MERCEDES-BENZ
Mercedes-Benz has acquired the staff, tools and spares of the now-defunct specialist Kienle Automobiltechnik GmbH, Heimerdingen, and simultaneously launched its long-anticipated Mercedes-Benz Heritage division.
The acquisition of the Kienle company’s assets immediately increase the spares availability from Mercedes-Benz Heritage for the SL models that Kienle specialised in. More importantly, it increases the classic car expertise in the company, and also brings the special tooling required for some of these models – and, of course, it saves many jobs that would otherwise have been lost following Kienle’s downfall.
Mercedes-Benz has always valued and protected its history; for many years, its Classic division has concentrated on showcasing its historic cars at events and within its famous Stuttgart museum. However, in April 2023 it formed a new subsidiary, Mercedes-Benz Heritage GmbH, run by Marcus Breitschwerdt, reporting to Mercedes-Benz chairman and CEO, Ola Källenius.
The additional aim of Mercedes-Benz Heritage is to support owners of classic Mercedes models (including so-called Youngtimers), by supplying spares and expertise as well as offering service, sales and restoration. The division is buying classic Mercedes-Benz models specifically to restore and sell to enthusiasts, but it also offers services to owners. Price-wise, these start with £120 data cards to show the original equipment fitted to a car at the factory, and rise to full expert evaluations of a model for £20,000, to determine authenticity as well as future restoration and preservation options. There are also plans to offer paid-for 300 SL passenger rides in the Mille Miglia, expected to start this year.
Marcus Breitschwerdt explained: “As Mercedes-Benz Heritage GmbH, we have a responsibility to preserve the heritage of this unique brand, and carry it into the future. With the purchase, we secure valuable spare parts, and ensure their best-possible availability. In addition, we are recruiting additional specialists who have acquired knowledge and experience in this highly specialised area over many years, and who will actively support us in the implementation of our growth strategy. My entire team and I warmly welcome our new colleagues.”
As for Kienle Automobiltechnik, until recently one of the world’s best-known Mercedes-Benz specialists, it went out of business in late 2023 following investigations by German authorities into alleged fraudulent business practices – specifically creating a duplicate 300 SL Roadster using the chassis number of a car that had not come to market in decades.