This One-Off Mercedes-Benz Adenauer Is A Rolling Laboratory


Technological advances have helped automakers run tests on their vehicles even before the test mules were launched. But long before the advent of computers, manufacturers had a different way of collecting data and testing vehicles. The guys from Mercedes-Benz came up with a rather ingenious solution that involved the one-off ‘Adenauer’ 300.

Dubbed the Gauge Car (or Messwagen), it was a heavily modified W189 that was converted into a two-door wagon. But why use a flagship sedan as a data-gathering vehicle and not an inferior model? Mercedes-Benz says it takes a fast, big vehicle to keep up with the test car and haul the big gauges.


The Messwagen began its service in 1960. Despite its workhorse goals, it was somewhat stylish thanks to its stretched rear end, panoramic windows and tail fin. The gauge plus the onboard generator is in the back of the car. That said, the windows definitely made the back warmer for the data-gathering engineers at the back.

Powering this unique car is a 3.0-liter, straight-six engine that produces 160 horsepower (118 kilowatts). While it doesn’t sound like much these days, it was one of the most powerful engines Mercedes-Benz produced at the time. Top speed is around 75 mph (120 km/h) with all the equipment on board.

So how does this mobile laboratory help engineers? The Messwagen is connected to other vehicles via a 30 meter cable. The line sends data to the gauges in Messwagen. Sensor data from the car is recorded on magnetic tape which will be analyzed after the road test.


The Messwagen served Mercedes-Benz until the early 70s. Technological advances mean the need for all the big wires and equipment is reduced, bringing the car into retirement. These days, computer simulations and wireless connections make it easier to measure and collect such things. Still, it’s nice to see a car like this get the spotlight instead of ending up unloved and left in a landfill.


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