The 2007 Mercedes Benz Display at NAIAS

Mercedes-Benz has some winter fun to celebrate 100 years of all-wheel drive vehicles. If you’re at Cobo next week, don’t fall on the floor.

The award for coolest display-literally-at this year’s Detroit show has to go to Mercedes-Benz. When I first stepped onto the main show floor this past Sunday, the first thing I saw was a giant ice rink with young skaters circling an S550 4-matic. I sat, waiting for one of them to slip up and slide skate first into a fender.

The press conference commenced, and out came a series of SUVs-R-, ML-, and GL-class-guided by a hockey team. Next came figure skaters and the S- and E-class 4-matics, and finally a red carpet rolled across the ice for Emmitt Smith and the fabulous Ocean Drive Concept. Even without Bobby Flay, this presentation had the most spice of the day.

Obviously, though, ice isn’t safe for wingtip-wearing journalists, and something had to be done. I went back to the M-B display later in the afternoon and the ice was now rough and grippy. “What did you guys do to the ice?” I asked one of the Benz PR folks. “Oh, well ice is too dangerous, so we smashed broken glass into it to make it safe.” I looked at him with a stunned face. “Yeah, our lawyers were skeptical, too.”

The floor at the Mercedes stand will stay frozen all through the public days at Cobo, thanks to a complex series of pipes holding the ice at ten degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a chance to go, look closely at the rear wall. It’s frozen, too, and has 4-matic badges lodged inside it.; Congratulations to Mercedes-Benz for 100 years of building four-wheel drive vehicles, and congratulations for making a display worthy of the anniversary.


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