It looks super cool – no questions there. The hot-rod-style Benz concept, branded Vision Mercedes Simplex, pays homage to the first Mercedes while being a window into the future. Its forward-thinking nature is found in both the end product and the build process.
That’s because this is, according to chief design officer for Daimler AG, Gorden Wagener, the first concept from Mercedes to be signed off with an entirely digital and computerised build process, one sans traditional clay modelling.
Instead, Wagener and his team decided to delve into the world of virtual reality at the marque’s all-new design studio located in the achingly beautiful Côte d’Azur in Nice, France. If the designers can’t find inspiration here, they’re unlikely to anywhere else.
According to Wagener, a special building deserves a special reveal. And the Simplex certainly delivers with its unique path from first sketch through to the final concept.
“Typically we’d do a clay model at a certain point. We’ve done virtual before, but then we’d always refine with a clay model to gain that final sophistication,” Wagener said.
However, in this case they didn’t, deciding to take on digitisation from go to whoa. “We just did it all on data … and then I signed it off. It’s actually the first time we’ve done that,” Wagener said.
An ultra-futuristic version of the original – genesis for the modern car layout we have today – the Simplex was created as a celebration and to mark the return of Mercedes-Benz to the region. As Wagener aptly put it, “It’s not a design studio without a surprise.”
In design and final product, 118 years later the Simplex is far removed from the Mercedes 35 PS. That car dominated Race Week in Nice in 1901. It paved the way for the motor vehicle and the brand itself, with the 35 PS being the first car to be labelled a Mercedes. The origins of the title can be found with the car’s creator, Emil Jellinek, who used his daughter’s name for the car.
The concept car “reinterprets the historic Simplex”. Hence the two-seater design features freestanding wheels with transparent trims and a digital radiator grille highlighting its digital transformation. That grille, framed in rose gold, is actually a black panel/3D display and features digitally superimposed ‘Mercedes’ lettering. There’s even a leather bag attached to the rear.
Read next: Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS concept headlines electric pushInside the cabin, one without a roof or windscreen, there’s a dash with minimal instrumentation, harking back to the original 35 PS. A small digital screen displays what’s acutely necessary at the time, while the craftsmanship and clean-sheet design is remarkable. The Simplex is self-described by Mercedes as being “hyper analogue”.
Of course, there are absolutely zero plans to produce the Simplex. Its driving, with an “alternative” drivetrain, will be limited to being pushed onto motor show stands. However, we’re very glad Mercedes created it. Just look at it. Enough said.