The Mercedes-Benz Club was founded in 1952, making it the oldest club for the marque in the world. Ronald Johnson, a great enthusiast for the 1920s supercharged Mercedes, was the man behind it. Founding Members included photographer George Monkhouse (effectively 'team photographer' for the 1930s 'Silver Arrows' Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team) and motor dealer and author of the marque history Three Pointed Star David Scott-Moncrieff. The first Patrons were pre-war racing driver Earl Howe and Edward Mayer, who owned 115 Mercedes between 1904 and his death in 1962.
Recognition and rallies
The Club was recognised and encouraged by both the then UK importers and Daimler-Benz in Germany – the latter giving approval to the Club's badge, which incorporates the company's three-pointed-star logo and is adapted from the steering wheel boss of a 1920s SSK.
1954 saw the Club's first Stuttgart Rally, with those taking part receiving a warm welcome at their destination and free petrol from Shell!
In its early days the Club was focused on pre-war cars, but with the lifting of import restrictions in 1953 and the launch of the 300SL Gullwing in 1954 this soon changed. The Club continues to be open to anyone with an interest in the marque, which ever model they drive – and even if they don't own one at all.
Strong technical support
The Club thrived through the 1960s and had more Stuttgart Rallies in 1962 and 1969. 1971 saw the first of a series of Christmas parties hosted by Mercedes-Benz UK that continues to this day. By 1980 membership had reached the 1,000 mark, but by May-June 1981 financial problems meant the printer couldn't be paid for the Gazette, which had been published every other month since 1957. This was soon put right and membership continued to grow.
In 1992 the Club celebrated its 40th anniversary with a week-long rally and in 1999 made the first of what has become an annual pilgrimage to Techno-Classica in Essen, Germany – the biggest classic car show in the world.
Through the 1990s membership increased considerably, not least because the Club continued to offer strong technical support via a tradition of highly knowledgeable and hard working voluntary Technical Directors and Advisers. In 2000 the Club Gazette started to be published every month with a wide range of event reports, historic features, technical advice and a vigorous correspondence column.
Double World Champion John Surtees OBE became Honorary President in 2001 and the Club celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2002. Since the turn of the century the Club has settled into what seems to be a successful pattern of international rallies, national events and many local pub meetings and representation at regional events.
The national events include social as well as driving, concours and technical assistance elements. Some feature individual models, but all Members – with any Mercedes-Benz model or none – are encouraged to attend them.
Membership is now in excess of 10,000 and in addition to the monthly Gazette, the Club Directory – only distributed to paid-up Members – includes contact details for all Officials, special offers and the 'Good Garage Guide of Members' recommendations. In addition, this website has a substantial Members' section including model forums and a searchable technical reference library.