The 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show was all about the future. Sure, there were some cool cars and debuts that represented the best of the present but it was really a showcase for how great the future can be. And one of the very best cars we saw there was actually a showcase for how the coolest future for the automobile is actually all about the past — the Vision Mercedes Simplex.
I know, I know, this is BMWBLOG and speaking highly of a Mercedes product is sinful according to many of our readers. However, we’re an objective publication and credit must go to where credit is due. And in the case of the Vision Mercedes Simplex, the Stuttgart-based brand deserves a lot of credit. It’s simply gorgeous. More than just being pretty, though, the Simplex concept proves just how well vintage design and futuristic tech can work together.
The Vision Mercedes Simplex is designed to harken back to some of the brand’s original cars, from 1901-1910. For instance, the original Mercedes Simplex. What really caught my eye, personally, about this concept was the fact that just a month prior, I saw the original Simplex at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. So seeing this super-futuristic concept that has similar design elements to that car really left an impression on me.
It also made me think about the future of car design and how electric cars could be made to look a lot like vintage pre-war cars and they could be really cool. Of course, ancient cars like the original Simplex had no crash or safety regulations of any kind to deal with. So they could be designed purely for the sake of design.
But electric cars will be a lot more flexible than internal combustion engine cars in how they can be worked around regulations. With far less mechanical gubbins limiting space, electric cars can be designed in more interesting ways while still adhering to safety regulations. So not only should car companies make more cars like the Vision Mercedes Simplex but they probably could.
BMW has a few car designs it could recreate with futuristic electric cars that would be genuinely special. For instance, the original BMW 328 is one of the prettiest cars the brand has ever made and could be recreated as a sort of retro-styled electric roadster. In fact, BMW actually did recreate its design, with the 328 Hommage Concept and it was gorgeous. Imagine that but more futuristic looking with an all-electric powertrain? That would be incredible.
It’s not just the BMW 328, though. Cars like the BMW Isetta and the BMW 507 immediately come to mind and could lend their classic styling to more futuristic cars. There’s a lot of potential for the future of retro design and the Vision Mercedes Simplex is the perfect example of it. Obviously, the Simplex concept is a bit too extreme and isn’t possible with modern and future safety regulations but the idea is the same: take vintage, pre-war designs and use them as the basis for future electric car designs. In my personal opinion, it’s a perfect mix.