Beer gardens, bratwurst, and Porsche.
There are many aspects about a culture that help to define it. Food, music, movies, and unique habits are a few of these defining factors, but what about cars? They say as much about the culture in a certain country as anything else, so by taking five examples of a cars from a certain country, we can begin to see a lot about the history, customs, and mentality behind a certain civilization. In an effort to get to know Germany a little better, here are a few of their most notable cars and what each one says about Deutschland.
You knew you couldn't read a list about German cars and not see the Porsche 911. As a spawn of the Volkswagen Beetle, the Porsche 911 inherited all of the stubbornness that its donor car had and has become one of the best and most iconic sports cars of all time. Engine in an impractical spot? No worries, the stubborn Germans will engineer around the problem and make the car one of the best driver's cars ever. In fact, the car is so precise and mechanically raw despite its rear-engine handicap that it seems as if the Germans leave it there as a testament to their engineering might. Germans get a bad rep for being too serious, but the Porsche 911 proves that they can have some fun.
Like Germany itself, the Mercedes S-Class is a class leader in technological innovation, engineering prowess, comfort, and sophistication. It's been around for a long time and outlines some of the country's best qualities by staying ahead of the curve and putting the competition to shame. It isn't necessarily chalked full of personality, but it just pulls off the job of being a great car and does so consistently. Unfortunately, sometimes the S-Class gets so ahead of itself on the technological side of things that reliability becomes an issue. These problems don't last long however, because as soon as problem areas are found, the Mercedes team works together like the German soccer team to fix these problems for the subsequent model years of a chassis.
On the darker side of things is the Volkswagen Beetle. It came at a time when Germany needed a small economy car that was cheap to produce and easily recognizable. Hitler loved the car because it fit in with his dream of a blonde-hair blue-eyed Germany strolling through the country's autobahn like a well-organized ant colony. Despite these negative connections, the Volkswagen Beetle managed to succeed on a level never seen before by any car. With over 21 million made from 1938 to 2003, it holds the crown as being the longest running and most manufactured car of a single platform ever made. Of course in typical German fashion, its compact rear-engine design was a brilliant engineering solution and changed the world forever.
Tourists like to visit Germany for the food, beer, and more, but one of the more deviant reasons to visit is the Berlin Leather and Fetish week. It showcases some of the darker and kinkier sides to Germans that stems from a culture that likes control. On the automotive side of this, Brabus and its crazy cars that come with voracious appetites for the road, showcases this side pretty well. The tuner specializes in taking cars built by the inventors of the first gas production car (Mercedes) and giving them enough horsepower to alter the spin of the earth. Forced induction V8s and V12s display the more gothic side of Germany and the signature black cars fit in very well with the black leather at the fetish festival.
The Volkswagen Beetle may have stood as a symbol of cheap mass produced practicality, but there is no better way to showcase German no-nonsense logic than the BMW 3 series. As a spawn of the epically good BMW 2002, the 3 series has stood as a symbol of one of the perfect cars. It looks good, is one of the best driver's cars ever, is insanely practical, and has enough luxury to make owners feel special. It's no wonder this car is one of the most popular on earth; it comes in many different incarnations including a coupe, saloon, wagon, convertible, and can even be an epic sports car. It seems as if there is nothing that the 3 series can't do. Its reign has lasted from 1975 and shows absolutely no signs of slowing or stopping.