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Factory Visit: Brabus
Brabus has a long standing record as one of the most well-known tuners world wide. The Germans have gained their position over the last decades and are here to stay. The company was founded in 1977 in Bottrop, a city in the German Ruhr Area. For thirty years, Brabus has individualized the performance, design, and style of Mercedes-Benz cars. Certified to ISO 9001:2000 and with numerous in-house static and dynamic test facilities, they manufacture and upgrade more than 7,500 cars per year.
With a total working area of more than 112,000m2 in three different facilities situated in Bottrop, Brabus is the largest independent aftermarket tuner in the world. To have a closer look at the massive complex, the achievements from the past and the workforce focusing on Mercedes-Benz and Smart, GTspirit.com went to Bottrop to experience the Brabus way of tuning. We were short on words seeing the immense operation, wide variety of business and sheer spread of possibilities the organization offers.
The franchise was owned until recently by Baron Martin Stillman von Brabus, and early lover of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll. The current owner is Bodo Buschmann. The company is now represented in more than 106 countries and opened its first official subsidiary in the Middle East over the past few weeks. It is named Brabus Middle East LLC. The Germans are certified as a manufacturer by the Kraftfahrt Bundesamt (German Transport Authority), and are entitled to apply its own chassis and engine numbers on complete cars built from a shell.
This sounds nice but without visiting the workshops you will never have a real idea what it means. Our tour started in a small showroom filled with at least ten historical cars. All the cars have some meaning to the Brabus organization. They are bought by Brabus, restored up to an automotive piece of art with certified craftsmanship, in all its details, and available for interested buyers. Brabus Classic uses original parts as much as possible and offers bespoke restorations, maintenance & care of young- and old-timers based on a Mercedes-Benz or Brabus. Any kind of craftsmanship is in-house. Especially leather upholstery work, paint jobs and special requests of all kinds can be fulfilled by this special section of the Brabus organization.
From the showroom we ended up in the main workshop where classic, contemporary cars and a wide variety of brands were combined in one single hall with a glass roof offering tons of light. The massive open space is the hart of the complex providing a ‘bridge’ between the main warehouse and the main showroom. It holds the engine workshop, leather workshop and different work spaces for vehicles to be serviced. It gave us a good overview between the different “brands” the company has to offer. Startech offers Jaguar, Range Rover, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep tuning, Brabus focuses on Mercedes-Benz and Smart and Brabus Classic is all about classic cars.
The engine workshop was one of the highlights of the factory visit. The workmanship is directly visible when you look around you. Swapped and overhauled engines were placed in a nice lineup, several machines were processing new engine parts and engineers were working on the latest V12 and V8 biturbo power plants. Everywhere you looked, you felt Brabus’s primary focus of achieving maximum engine performance through the increase of both horsepower and torque.
Two rather interesting sections of the company are pretty unknown; Brabus Yachting and Brabus CRD. The yachting business offers people the option to charter a Sunseeker ship in the Mediterranean. Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera to be precise. Brabus Car Research & Development (CRD) was founded in 1984. Its mission is the development and production of special low volume series for manufacturers from all over the world and it offers a full service for automobile manufacturers and their national importers. CRD provides almost the whole range of services expected of a small series manufacturer, from market analysis, conception and development of special models, accessories and prototypes to manufacture of small series at its Bottrop facility. Not something you would expect from a tuner.
The tour did not end here, but continued in another workshop where complete interior upholsteries and exterior upgrades were fitted to numerous Mercedes-Benz models. The final section of the first building was the showroom where a number of cars were displayed, like the Brabus SV12 R Biturbo 800 iBusiness, SLS AMG 700 BiTurbo and a Mercedes-Benz SL by Brabus. The showroom is accessible for anybody and shows – together with the local car park – a sum mum in Brabus models.
The second building is quite close to the main Brabus headquarters. It holds the Smart-Brabus tuning business and several of their technical facilities. In 2003 the Smart-Brabus company was founded as a joint-venture with the smart division of Daimler AG, for the development of exclusive smart models. Construction of a new 11,000m2 manufacturing and production building with engine test beds, driving simulation systems, and a 14,000m3 high-rise warehouse. Up to know they are the only official tuning company for Smart and similar as AMG to Mercedes-Benz.
The area inside the building offered a great view on the outrageous ways of tuning your smart. The tiny city cars are tailored made in a way many of you would consider a step too far. Highlights of the business are displayed in the main showroom. In the adjacent workshop we came cross two Crossblades and the Smart Roadster-Coupe Brabus biturbo test mule.
Close to the workshop two engine test beds and a high speed dyno are situated, offering the company in-house development and testing of any type of engine or upgrade. The test beds can simulate any type of driving situation using ultra-sensitive sensors and a floating foundation that adjusts to match the engine/prime-mover center. This type of engine simulation shows the high level of development performed by the German tuner.
The visit at the second building ended our tour of the Brabus HQ, but not our day at Brabus. After a short brake and a walk over the car park we were handed the keys to a super sports car tuned by Brabus. A complete road test of the vehicle will follow soon after this story and gives you another in-depth look into the world of Brabus Mercedes-Benz tuning.