Concept Cars

Vision Mercedes Simplex concept throws it way back to the early 1900s

Rarely do new concepts pay homage to this era.

Mercedes should build 10 of these and host a road race, since that was the original Simplex's jam.

Mercedes-Benz

Concept cars these days are exercises in complexity, often carrying complicated technologies and designs. Clearly, they're aimed at the future, which is why Mercedes-Benz's latest concept is a breath of fresh air that aims to keep it simpler.

Mercedes-Benz on Saturday unveiled the Vision Mercedes Simplex concept. Meant as a new-age look at the Mercedes 35 PS from 1901, this concept eschews some of the complication in favor of a more straightforward tribute, but there are still plenty of futuristic twists in it.

It takes about a millisecond of looking at the concept to realize it's based on something well before our own time. While the outboard wheels and exposed linkages look like something from Minority Report, the rest of the design is straight-up old-school, with ample seating for two and even a clever little luggage bag attached to the back end. The vintage Mercedes logo makes an appearance, but the body is loaded with 21st-century touches like rose gold accents.

The grille is one of the more interesting parts. Behind its rose gold frame is a three-dimensional display that shows a digital version of the early 20th-century Mercedes logo. Whereas the interior of the original Simplex is a hodgepodge of tubes and levers, the concept's interior is radically simplified, with just a few switches on the instrument panel.

Many modern concepts preview future cars, but not this one. There's a snowball's chance in hell something like this would ever make it to production, given the extremely long list of regulations every new car must adhere to, but it's still an interesting exercise in what can happen when an automaker's designers are given the chance to break free from those boundaries. Let's hope there's more like this in store in the future.