A special treat for automobile enthusiasts awaits in Hall 5 at the IAA. Here they will find the world of Brabus. For many years the car maker has enjoyed a reputation for its high performance vehicles. For example, the Brabus 850 6.0 twin turbo “iBusiness” is causing a stir at the IAA – this designation applies not merely to a special luxury limousine with 850 hp based on the new Mercedes S-Class, but also a mobile office, with high-class extras and exclusive multimedia equipment. All the functions, such as iPad, Mac mini, iPod touch and Apple TV, can be controlled by occupants in the front or rear of the car using the Brabus Remote App or an iPad mini. An exclusive ambience is provided by the exquisite, two-tone interior leather finish.
For the first time at the IAA, Brabus is now presenting its recently introduced “Brabus Classic.” Here Prof. Bodo Buschmann, manager and sole shareholder of Brabus GmbH, in Bottrop, is taking a somewhat different path: the classic Mercedes-Benz cars are not being tuned up, but returned to their original state – just as they were “back then,” when they rolled off the production lines in the 1960s and 1970s – for instance the white four-seater Mercedes-Benz Cabriolet 280 SE 3.5 (W 111) with its V8 engine, which can be admired on the Brabus stand. “Our aim is to preserve as many original parts as possible. We condition the chrome, and the wooden interior trims are not replaced but instead a lot of work is put in to restore their original elegance and quality. The entire engine is reconditioned, but keeps its own character. If we replace the seat covers they, too, are based on the original,” Bodo Buschmann explains. He asks his son Constantin Buschmann to join him for a photo with the 280 SE.
Just a few steps away is a blue “Pagoda,” a Mercedes-Benz 280 SL (W 113), built in 1969, complete with beige leather seats and a large ivory-coloured steering wheel. And of course it has a prized “Becker Europa” radio. “In our manufactory in Bottrop we spend over 12 months on one vehicle bringing it up to our standards of genuineness and quality. We have four workshops in Bottrop, and are planning a fifth. We also have our own paint shop and a leather-working shop. All our people are professionals who know their handiwork,” according to Bodo Buschmann. The “brand new” historic vehicles from Brabus come with a two-year guarantee.
And where do these “treasures” come from? Bodo Buschmann explains: “Brabus has a presence in 106 countries around the world. Our customers include many people who have very beautiful older vehicles in their garages – often with low mileages. The owners come to us instead of putting them up for sale.”
Business is booming and 60 classic cars are currently being restored. “We are doing well with ‘Brabus Classic’ and our growth rates are in the high double-digit range, Buschmann says.
In Bottrop the firm employs a workforce of 350, and another 150 are to be hired just in the next twelve months. In China Brabus’ models are especially popular – both the new cars and the historic vehicles “straight from the factory”. Brabus has opened its own exclusive showrooms in excellent locations in 40 Chinese towns and cities, and has plans for another 20. In total, Brabus employs 550 people in China, and outside of Germany and China it has another 2,500 employees. Where are the markets? Buschmann mentions Moscow, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and California – along with Europe and Germany.
Sven Gramm, Head of PR & Advertising at Brabus, asks for the new “Executive Van,” a Mercedes-Benz Viano in black metallic, to be shown to a visitor. The van “wears the fur on the inside”: 40-inch screen, all-round cameras with which the occupant can observe the “outside world” in detail (the curtains are drawn, the windows are tinted), a retractable sound-proof partition between the passengers and the driver, a safe with fingerprint access, the most varied range of scent modules, a refrigerator, the most advanced Apple iPads, Internet and TV of course, the finest leather, electric seats, a star-covered ceiling in various patterns …
“Our customers want the Executive Van because it is not only an ‘office on wheels’ but has a very comfortable interior and provides customers with privacy that they value, especially in congested cities,” Sven Gramm explains. The customers come from Russia, many European countries, and the Arab Emirates. “We make every wish come true,” Gramm stresses. “A Russian singer wanted the Brabus with a sound studio, and a fashion designer naturally wanted a large .clothes stand.” Depending on what the customer wants, the Brabus Executive is available as a two or four-seater, although most customers choose the version with two seats: “It’s more private,” according to Gramm.
Bodo Buschmann is “very satisfied” with the IAA so far: “We have had many talks with customers and already done some business. It is going even better than at the IAA in 2011.”