Club History

Origins of the Mercedes-Benz Club of South Africa.

The history of Mercedes-Benz in South Africa by far outstretches the history of the marque’s club here. Although the enthusiasm, interest and involvement of “fans” of the marque throughout its history here, cannot be denied and underplayed, it was not until the late 1970’s that this was harnessed and organised into the beginnings of the Mercedes-Benz Club.

The first car that ever-set wheel on South-African soil was a Benz Velo.
Although the “horseless carriage”, which had been imported by a local businessman, John Percy Hess, arrived in SA at the end of 1896, it did not run under its own power until January 4 of the following year. This was due to the fact that there was a delay of a month in the arrival of the benzene fuel for the engine! The first public demonstration of the Benz Velo took place at the Berea Park sports ground in Pretoria in front of Paul Kruger, the President of the Transvaal Republic. The publicity blurb urging Pretorians to attend this “red letter day” event proclaimed that “the motor car, like the bicycle, has come to stay and will be the craze of the century.” Download flyer
Hess went on to become the sole agent for the Benz brand in South Africa. The car was subsequently driven in Johannesburg as part of his initiative to promote “a revolution in locomotion.”

Since then history records Mercedes-Benz as it is known today.

It was in 1952 at the van Riebeeck Festival in Cape Town, where an impressive array of post-war Mercedes-Benz cars, commercial vehicles and trucks, including Unimogs were displayed. This event led to the establishment of Mercedes-Benz dealerships throughout the country and eventually to the local manufacture of the marque.

1975 – 1977: a loose arrangement of interested supporters and owners of Mercedes-Benz cars got together and appointed a chairman, Frank Liebenberg, who started the formation of the 1st unofficial Mercedes-Benz Club of South Africa and designed the original Green and Gold badge. Hennie Lottering took over the reins from 1977 – 1978.
One newsletter named the “Merc-nut” saw the light. Sadly, no formal structure and constitution was introduced, and although they had monthly meetings, it soon ran aground.

Another attempt at forming a club, this time for Mercedes Enthusiasts in Kwa-Zulu Natal, was started in 1978. Geoff Scallon, Chris Carlisle-Kitz and Jack Green were instrumental in getting proceedings under way. The first KZN meeting was on Friday, 14 July 1978 at the Rugby Hotel in Pinetown.  Obviously, they were not recognized by Daimler-Benz AG. Sadly, there were too few people who stayed the course and the KZN region disbanded.

In 1981, with the assistance and guidance of Herr. Henner von Eisenhart of Mercedes-Benz South Africa, the energies and enthusiasm of a few loyal owners of the Mercedes-Benz marque, once again attempted afresh to establish a formal Mercedes-Benz Club. Under the chairmanship of Steve Rademeyer; this attempt was to succeed. On the 19th of November 1985, the Trade Mark Users’ Agreement  between Daimler-Benz AG and the Club was officially signed at the Company’s Headquarters in Pretoria. This time an official Constitution was drafted and submitted to Daimler-Benz AG for approval. Legal assistance with the use of trademarks and logos was sought, and under the guidance of MBSA established a club logo.

A legal reality at last, the Club was officially launched on 23 November 1985, with the inaugural Dinner, held at the Hotel Hamsin, in Pretoria. 75 Guests attended this meeting and the club got underway with Steve Rademeyer at the helm as President, assisted by Pierre de Villiers as Vice Chairman. 11 Committee members held portfolio. Several senior executives from MBSA were in attendance and what a send-off they gave us!

Since this event, the club has experienced rough rides and good times, ever increasingly strengthening, growing and being enjoyed by its members. Today the club boasts with a central National Committee and six active Regional Committees. The addition of specialised registers were a natural development, with the appointment of Register Captains for the following Ponton, Fintail, W108 and W116 registers.
The highlight of our Events Calendar is the Annual AGM and National Gathering with our Mercedes-Benz SA sponsored Gala Evening, hosted on rotation by regions. Another major event is our annual National Concours, hosted by the Northern region, where members get the opportunity to proudly show their cars.
The Club’s newsletter, THE BENZ LENS, is published quarterly and is available in digital format.
We are also active on Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
We are glad to develop this new website with the help of the MB International Club Management.
We also have a unique set of Club regalia for sale to members.

Club highlights

The Century of the Car in South Africa 1897 -1997