Who wouldn't want to be caught driving the Mercedes Icon E Concept?
It’s a simple fact: car designers are obsessed with the past. Look no further than the fifth generation Mustang for proof. It kicked off an era of retro-themed American muscle cars that inspired Chevy and Dodge to build the fifth-generation Camaro and third-generation Challenger. And then there’s the Mercedes SLS AMG, a gull-winged throwback to the iconic 300SL. What all of these cars have in common, however, is that they are modern interpretations of their predecessors. They’re heavily rooted in the present and use only a few carefully chosen styling elements to call back to the glory days.
For regulatory reasons, automakers can’t base their modern cars on the bones of their greatest hits, but those rules don’t apply to rendering artists like David Obendorfer.
Despite being a yacht designer, Obendorfer has a passion for car design and spends some of his free time bending the rules with his art. He does this by drawing up cars that blend the past with the present, cars like this Mercedes-Benz Icon E Concept, that place the needle closer to the past than would be realistically possible. This Mercedes, for example, retains many of the styling cues of the 1968 W115 sedan. It has a similar rectangular grille with large gaps between each of the vertically-aligned headlights. The swooping roof and a character line that begins its ascension from the rear of the car help maintain some sense that this Merc was born in the 21st century, but the past is brought back into play at the rear, were we see the W115’s horizontal taillights.
The fact that Obendorfer took the time to show us the interior is an extra treat. Here, he kept things consistent with a steering wheel straight from the W115, albeit with a thicker outer wheel to keep with times. The interior is simple but elegant. In it we find Mercedes’ current dual screen setup, which has one screen standing in for the gauge cluster and another dedicated to infotainment functions. Mercedes' COMMAND control knob and touchpad are still present, but they rest on an upward sloping center console, just like the center console in the W115. Obendorfer likes to refer to the look of his Mercedes Icon E as "modernist luxury,” and we’ll admit that the classical vibes really give the E-Class bones that underpin this concept a timeless look. Maybe the Sultan of Brunei will commission one for himself?