From nibbling Black Forest Cake in the Black Forest to streaking down the autobahn in your custom SLK 55 AMG, Mercedes’ little-known Munich pick-up program lets buyers first test their new baby on the famed German speedway.
by Ginger Warder
I still can’t decide what was more fun… downshifting on the hairpin mountain curves or hitting fifth gear on the Autobahn with the top down and the Scorpions blasting from the stereo. I had the top down on the silver SLK roadster, the sky was cerulean blue, and I was driving the ultimate sports car through a postcard of Bavaria. With this kind of scenery, it’s a toss-up as to whether you should drive or ride. Around every bend in the road is a mountaintop castle or a quaint white church with an onion dome. I almost wrecked when my passenger screamed, “Look at the llamas!” peacefully grazing in a roadside pasture.
Forget the excitement of driving your luxury wheels off the dealer’s lot. Forget in-town speed limits. And forget “new car smell.” For a real driving thrill, pick up your new Mercedes in Germany and hit the Autobahn for the ultimate test drive. Better yet, create your own automotive adventure with a classic tour of the Black Forest Region, and let your native vehicle show you the ropes.
The Mercedes Benz was born for this terrain. It hugs the mountain curves like a lover, and roars down the 6800 miles of autobahn like a high-speed train. Unless you’ve driven at Sebring or Watkins Glen, there’s nowhere in the U.S. for an ultimate off-track test drive like this one. Head east to Austria, west to France, or south to beer-loving Munich and the ski resorts of Switzerland.
Anybody can go down to the local Mercedes Benz dealer and order a classic sedan or sporty SLK convertible, but few know about the Mercedes European Delivery program. Custom-design your ride, save about seven percent on U.S. retail prices, and get a jump start on a fabulous European vacation-all compliments of MBUSA. They’ll put you up for a night in your choice of 12 exquisite luxury hotels in four countries, give you a V.I.P. tour of the factory, wine and dine you, and then ship your car home when you finish your personal European road rally. They’ll also pick up 15 days of zero-deductible comprehensive insurance and take care of your transfers from the airport or train station. Pick up the new addition to your family at the factory in Sindelfingen and get an insider tour to see just how your custom coach has come to life.
The factory is located just a few miles southwest of Stuttgart, a skyline dominated by a huge, revolving Mercedes three-pointed star on the top of the train station.Designed to represent Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler’s wish for universal motorization by “land, sea, and air,” the star is synonymous with the combination of innovation, tradition, and luxury that the two inventors of motorized transport envisioned over 100 years ago. Visit your new baby’s ancestors at the jaw-dropping Mercedes Museum in Bad Cannstatt to see the genetic beginnings of the powerful engines and graceful styling that have made Mercedes Benz the most revered touring car for a century.
While there, take advantage of the Mercedes travel specialists and add on their Black Forest-Alps Rally Package for an additional $1,300 per couple. The four-day itinerary takes you from the factory into the Black Forest, and then on to the Arlberg Pass in the Austrian Alps near Innsbruck. On day one, you’ll drive the legendary Black Forest High Road to the lush woods overlooking the Rhine Valley, and spend the night at Schlosshotel Buhlerhuhe, voted the number one hotel in Germany for several years. The next day, after a sumptuous buffet breakfast, you’ll wind through the dense canopy of trees that gave the Black Forest its name to reach your retreat at the Parkhotel Adler, an Old World haven for travelers since 1446. Retire after cocktails and a dinner to rest up for a little country-hopping on day three, when you’ll cruise the autobahn to Austria and the Interalpen-Hotel Tyrol near the charming town of Innsbruck. Visit the Olympic site or browse the quaint shops in the Old City before enjoying your five-course gourmet dinner at the hotel. Finally, head south to beer-loving Munich, a cosmopolitan city filled with the best of Bavaria. When you’re ready to go home, simply drop your car keys and documents at the front desk to launch the car on its trip home by sea, and use your complimentary taxi voucher to head to the airport for your transcontinental flight.
Pick Up Lines
A European pick-up typically results in a seven percent savings on MSRP on most of the C, E, CLK, SLK, CLS, and SL models. It’s hard to find a model this program doesn’t apply to, with MSRPs beginning around $40,000. Most of the C300’s, E320 and 350’s, CLK 350 and 550 coupes, SLK 280 and 350 roadsters and SLK550, CLS550 and SL 550 and 600 roadsters all qualify.
Prices exclude taxes, title, registration, tags and all of the dealer add-ons, but the average delivery/shipping fee of about $775 is built in to the package price. Mercedes picks up hotel, insurance and more.
To ensure you get all of the custom options you want, it’s recommended that you order about 4 months before your trip, but if you’re not that picky, you can still purchase through the European Delivery program as little as three weeks in advance.